Password: Vocabulary Review

Here’s a tried and tested one that works well with zero preparation and it always fun!

1. Cut up a piece of scrap paper and hand out a few slips to the participants (2-4 slips per person).

2. Ask them to look through their notes/worksheets/book for interesting words they learned in the last few lessons and write one word per slip of paper.

3. Put the slips in a pile in the center of the group (or make smaller groups of 3-4 people if you have a large class).

4. Participants take turns drawing a slip of paper and describing the word to the others.  The first to guess the word wins that card. 

5. Continue around the circle until all the cards are gone.  Count up the cards and declare a winner.


1. What if some words occur more than once?  No problem, then you can check if they have learned it really!  I usually don’t allow someone who has won a word to claim the exact same word again.  Also, this word was obviously interesting/important to more than one learner.

2. What if they take a word from the pile and don’t know it?  No problem, just put it at the bottom of the pile.  As they hear another person describing the word, it might click and they will actually learn the word.

3. What if two people say the word at the same time?  No problem, just rip the slip of paper in half and they have a half point!

Note:  I usually write some words myself and play the game with the participants.  I think it’s good to be a part of the game and model the language.

The participants have a real need for the language and are creating real language based on this.  They contextualize the words so the others can understand.  It’s very interactive and personalized.  And it is realistic:  how many times do you forget a word in another language (or even in your own) and need to communicate the idea to someone.  For example: (in a hotel/shop) “Excuse me, I need a new thing to put on my pillow” “Oh, a new pillow case?  Sure, here you are”.


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