- Keywords: Communication skills, follow-up questions, communicative competence
- Learner English Level: Low-intermediate and above
- Learner Maturity: High school and above
- Preparation time: 10 minutes
- Activity time: 30 minutes
- Materials: Note cards (four per student)
This exercise focuses on conversation skills, particularly follow-up questions and communicative competence. As with the classic ‘Two truths, one lie’, students try to trick their groupmates with plausible lies. However, ‘Two truths, two lies’ involves students creating two true and two false memories. These are written on separate cards. In groups, the students take turns being the reader, and the remaining students are guessers. The reader reads one card selected by the guessers and is then subjected to their questioning.
Step 1: Prepare four cards containing two truths and two lies. A good example has a time, a place, and something that happened, such as, “When I was 26, I was a postman in Iceland, and one day I dropped all of my letters in the snow”.
Step 1: Explain to the students that you have four cards containing two true and two false memories, and that they will need to ask questions to decide whether a memory is true or false.
Step 2: Place the cards face down on the desk or board and invite a student to choose one.
Step 3: Read the memory on the card, for example, “In my mid-20s, I was a postman in Iceland”.
Step 4: Set a timer for two minutes. Prompt students to ask you who, what, when, where, why, how questions, and help them formulate questions as needed. For example, “How long did you stay in Iceland?”, “How did you become a postman in Iceland?”, etc.
Step 5: When the time is up, have the students guess whether it was a truth or a lie before revealing the answer.
Step 6: Having modelled the activity, make groups of three or four students. Give each student four cards. Give them about 10 minutes to secretly write two true and two false memories. Explain that a good truth sounds like it could be a lie (something strange or unique that happened to you), and a good lie could be true.
Step 7: Ask the students to place their truths and lies face-down in front of them and to play rock, paper, scissors to determine the first reader.
Step 9: Ask the guessers to select what card the reader will read.
Step 10: After the readers read their cards, give the guessers two minutes to ask related questions.
Step 12: When two minutes are up, let the guessers guess whether it was a truth or a lie.
Step 13: The reader then reveals whether they were telling the truth or a lie.
Step 14: Have the next group member take the reader role and continue the activity as such. Because there are two truths and two lies per person, each student can be the reader twice, as it will be possible that the second card could be a truth or a lie.
This exercise can be easily adapted for different group sizes. Furthermore, the time can be shortened by asking the students to create one truth and one lie.
This exercise can be used as a warm-up activity or as part of a lesson plan focusing on asking follow-up questions or general conversation skills. It helps students practice follow-up questions in the guesser role and develop communicative competence as the reader, who answers questions while trying to trick the guessers.