Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"Qui est-ce?"

Joanne Thomas is a superstar French teacher from Atlanta, Georgia that I met on Twitter 3 years ago. A couple of weeks ago, I convinced her to join the "Mystery Hangouts for Foreign Language Teachers" Google+ community and to do a Practice Mystery Hangout with us, which I have been hosting every Monday night (8pm, EST).

Well, after the Hangout, she suggested that we try a different game with our students. Where she came up with this, I have no idea, but the moment I heard it, I knew that it would be brilliant.

In a nutshell, instead of playing "Mystery Location", we would play a game of "Guess Who?".

Here are the steps:

1. Each student creates a profile of him/herself. Click here for one of my student's. Click here for one of Joanne's. Note that it does not matter if the profile outlines are different.

2. Teachers email all students' profiles to each other and print them out.

The following steps are flexible. Joanne's were slightly different from mine.

3. Students get into groups. Teacher distributes profiles of the other class to each group, handing out 2-3 profiles/student.

4. Teacher practices game with students. She has a copy of all of the profiles of the other class. She chooses one and pretends to be that student. Her students ask her questions, trying to guess who she is. For example: "Est-ce que tu es une fille?" (Yes/No answers only). Teacher answers "Oui, je suis une fille" or "Non, je ne suis pas une fille". Click here for a wonderful document that Joanne put together to help my students with questions for her class. Click here for the document that she made to help her students with questions for my class. This can be photocopied and handed out to the students (note that the questions are different in each class because the profiles are different).

5. Students turn over all of the profiles of girls (or whatever the case may be).

6. This questioning continues with students turning over profiles as they are eliminated one by one, until someone tries to guess: "Est-ce que tu t'appelles....?"

7. Teacher: "Oui, je m'appelle...." or "Non, je ne m'appelle pas....". Game continues until identity is discovered.

8. Teacher continues game choosing a different profile (or a student can choose a profile and pretend to be the student) until all profiles are guessed or until class time runs out.


Teachers explain that it will be a game to see which class can guess the most number of students in the least amount of time. Game will be played in rounds and a timer will be used.

Students wear disguises in class (hats, wigs, sunglasses, etc.). One student will be picked by the teacher to be the first "Personne Mystère". He/she goes in front of the camera. Students from other class start to ask him/her questions. "Personne Mystère" must answer in full sentences.

When the student's identify is discovered, the timer stops and the time is recorded for Round 1.

Now the other class puts a "Personne Mystère" in front of the camera and the other class tries to guess their identity. Time is recorded and a winner is declared for Round 1.

Continue playing as long as time permits.

Post Hangout

Brainstorm with your students and the other teacher how you can improve the activity for next time. For example, Joanne and I were very pleased with the Hangout overall, but remarked that the students were slow to get to the camera to ask their questions and this dragged down the activity significantly. I think that with more experience playing "Qui est-ce" and Hangouts, our students will get better and faster with the questions. However, Joanne has some ideas on how to improve the activity which we will try out and I will blog about at a later date.


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  3. Bonjour Sylvia,

    This is a great game to play with students who are learning French and I think that it could be modified for several ages. I am a student teacher and I always feared teaching intermediate grades because I knew that I would have to teach them French but my current French teacher taught me how games are a great way to help students learn French. I wish that my core French teachers had known how to make French a little more engaging and fun as opposed to memorizing and regurgitating information.

    I like how there are so many different elements to this game. The students first have to answer questions about themselves (written) then they have to read the "mystery" persons answers (reading) and then they have to go around and ask/answer other students questions (oral/listening). It combines all the core elements of learning a new language.

    I also like how you debriefed with the students after the lesson to ask them if there was anything that they would change about the game. I am always happily surprised by the feedback that I receive from my students, they notice things that I wouldn't have on my own.

    Thank you for sharing this game,

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