Culture Lies

This is good for B1-C2 levels especially when discussing intercultural communication, but also when discussing modal verbs for advice and obligation.

  1. Print out (or better, have the learners research) a few culture tips from a website. These could be tips on body language, how to address someone, punctuality etc.
  2. For large classes, have the learners work in pairs or small groups. For small classes, have them work individually.
  3. Ask them to read the information you give them (or that they find) and write 4 sentences about the culture they are assigned. For example, if a learner is assigned Japan, they might write: 1. You should always take off your shoes when entering a Japanese home. 2. Japanese people bow when they meet each other. How long and how low they bow depends on the amount of respect they want to show. 3… etc. However, tell them that of the 4 culture tips they write, ONE MUST BE A LIE.
  4. Now, have the pairs work with another pair (or individuals with other individuals, or if it is a very small group, do it as a whole-class exercise) and read their culture tips to each other. The other pair (or individual) should guess which one is a lie and why.

Alternative: Ask the learners to write the sentences on cards (tip per card). Then they stand up and find a partner and tell their four tips. If the person does not guess the LIE, they have to take a card from their partner (so now one person will have 5 cards and one will have 3). This means that there may be multiple LIES or NO LIES in each telling. The object is to get rid of all your cards, if possible. Make sure the learners write T or F in the corner of the card so if they are swapped the new owner of that tip knows the correct answer.

1-1 This can also work for 1-1 situations, but then the learner must research a culture and the trainer must research a culture (in the lesson or at home).

This exercise will open discussions on similarities and differences among cultures and raise awareness of different cultures. Of course you can then discuss how the learners would react in each situation as well.


One Lie, Two Truths

Many already know this one and the name about says it all. It’s great though for new groups or groups that (think they) know one another well. It’s also great to practice a particular grammar point be it present simple, past simple, future etc. So, it can be used several times in new contexts.

  1. Tell the participants you are going to give them three facts about yourself (for more advanced groups the facts could be little stories/anecdotes, for lower levels keep them to one sentence). Then tell them the facts, for example in an A2 group practicing past simple: “I climbed Mt. Fuji in 1999.” “I was on German television in 2006.” “I met Lady Gaga last summer in person.”
  2. Then allow the class in pairs or small groups to discuss which fact is a lie. They should reach a consensus in their groups and report their answer.
  3. Reveal the lie (in this case I did not meet Lady Gaga) and award points to the pairs/groups.
  4. Now let them individually prepare statements about themselves and repeat the exercise. The pair/group with the most correct answers wins! NB: When one person in a group is reading their statements, they clearly are excluded from deciding if their own statements are true or false.

1-1: This works perfectly in 1-1 lessons.