Lies, Damned Lies and … Video
The theme of this lesson is lying and telling the truth. It consists of a predicting activity (video), conversation questions and three suggestions for speaking games. It is probably best suited to upper-intermediate and advanced students.
NOTE : Depending on your teaching context, some of your students may find the end of the video a bit picante. Obviously, you are the best judge of this!
Watch the video first, then go through the steps below!
The Video : The Closet
Step One : Predicting
- Tell your students that they are going to listen to a sound story, a story which is told with sound rather than words or images. Tell them that you want them to listen and make notes on what they think is happenening.
- Play the soundtrack of the video until 0.54 (don’t show them the video yet).
- Pre-teach the following vocabulary: to shoot, machine gun, to chase, chainsaw, to cut down a tree, log, waterfall, saw mill, closet (wardrobe). Tell your students that all of these words are relevant to the story.
- Play the soundtrack again.
- Give them time to prepare and then ask them to explain what they imagine is happening to each other. Encourage them to be as imaginative as possible.
- Finally, show them the full video, including the subtitles in English at the end.
Step Two : Conversation questions on lying
- Introduce the topic of lying by talking about the video and why it is funny. At this point you might like to introduce some vocabulary e.g. to lie, a liar, to tell the truth, a white lie, gullible, to believe sb, unbelievable, a fib, to make up a story, to exaggerate, convincing, honest, dishonest etc
- Put your students in pairs or groups and ask them to talk about the following questions.
Step Three : Lying games
A nice way to finish off the lesson is to play one of these well-known “lying games”.
1. Call My Bluff
Based on a popular British quiz show, this game is often used to practice defining relative clauses. Divide your students into two teams and give each team a list of different words which you are pretty sure nobody will have seen before (e.g. seesaw, slaughterhouse, buoy, lumberjack etc). The teams take it in turns to give 3 definitions (the true definition and two false definitions) for each of their words. The opposing team asks clarification questions and then has to guess the right definition. If you have a lot of students, it’s worth dividing them up into smaller groups. Groups of six, with three students in each team work best.
2. Which One’s the Lie?
This game is typically used to practice the Present Perfect and/or Past Simple question formation. Students think of three first-person statements, one of which is a lie (the other two must be true) e.g.
- I have met President Zapatero.
- I went to Tenerife last weekend.
- I have jumped out of a plane with a parachute.
The other students ask clarification questions and then guess which of the three statements is the lie.
3. Alibi (and 2 variants)
One of the classic games! If you’ve not come across it before, here’s how it goes. Put your students into groups of four. In each group, two students must imagine that they are police detectives and the other two bank robbers. Tell the students that there was a bank robbery yesterday near your school and that the detectives have arrested the robbers, who they obviously suspect of committing the crime. The robbers deny that they had anything to do with the robbery and give an alibi in which they claim that they spent the whole day together (e.g. on a picnic in the countryside). The detectives have to try to find holes in the robbers’ alibi by interviewing them separately (Step 1 : Detective A interviews Robber A and Detective B interviews Robber B | Step 2 : Detective A interviews Robber B and Detective B interviews Robber A | Step 3 : Detectives compare and explain any differences they have found between the robbers’ alibis). Give enough preparation time for the detectives to think of appropriate questions and the robbers to make up their alibi.
Variants on the same game :
a) Two UFO freaks who claim they were abducted by aliens are interviewed by two skeptical journalists.
b) Green Card – Immigration officials investigating a suspected marriage of convenience. The “couple” have to convince them how well they know each other. Not very nice this one, but at the time (1990) fitted in well with a romantic comedy called Green Card).