Telling the Truth about Extensive Reading

Jasna Dubravcic, Showa Women s Junior College, Tokyo



  • Key Words: Extensive Reading, Pair Work, Group
  • Learner English Level: Low Intermediate to Advanced Learner
  • Learner Maturity Level: Jr. High School and above
  • Preparation Time: None
  • Activity Time: One class period or less

Literature on teaching reading has pointed out the importance of extensive reading for improving reading skills and expanding vocabulary. As a result, many language programs have built up their library of graded readers and made them an integral component of reading classes. Besides improving students' reading skills, graded readers also provide excellent opportunities for speaking activities. However, speaking activities can be a problem since all students in class do not usually read the same book. "Telling the Truth" is a solution to this problem.

"Telling the Truth" is a game in which several students claim that they have read a particular book, but only one of them is telling the truth. The other students in class have to find out which one of the students is telling the truth by asking them questions about the story.



Students are put into groups of three or four. Members of each group have to decide which story they are going to say they have read. They have to select a story that only one of them has read. After they choose a story, a student who has read the story tells the members of his or her group as much about the story as possible.

When all of the groups are ready, one of the groups comes in front of the class and each member of the group says, "I have read [title of story]." Then the other students in class start asking them questions about the story. They may start with more general questions, such as "Who are the main characters?", "Where does the story take place?" or "What happens at the beginning/end of the story?" After students get some information about the story, they should ask about details. If some students have read the same story, they should particularly be encouraged to ask such questions.

For example, questions for details about Erich Segal's Love Story may be:

  • How old was Jennifer/Oliver?

  • What did Jennifer/Oliver major in?

  • Where did Jennifer die?

  • Who was with Jennifer when she died?

The student who asks the question decides which member of the group in front will answer a particular question. The same question can also be asked to all of the members of the group in front. If a student does not know the answer to a question, s/he may decide to make up an answer or say, "I do not know."

After asking questions for about seven to ten minutes, the students vote on who they think told the truth -- who read the book. After the vote, the group who was questioned reveals which one of them read the story. Then another group comes in front of the class and the whole procedure is repeated.


Suggestions and Options

When playing the game for the first time. the teacher should brainstorm with students about questions that they may ask. For this practice, the questions can be about a story that is familiar to most students.

To encourage students to ask questions, groups can earn a point for each question asked by a member. The teacher can keep a record on the blackboard and at the end give an award to the group who asked the most questions.

This game can also be done as a warm-up activity at the beginning of class or to fill in time at the end of class. In this case, a few students can be asked to leave the classroom for about seven minutes to decide on a story and to prepare themselves for questioning.



This game is beneficial in several ways. It combines speaking and reading practice while adding the tone of entertainment to class. In addition, it gives students an opportunity to practice their speaking skills in a meaningful and purposeful way. Students carry on a meaningful conversation among themselves for the purpose of finding out which student is telling the truth. Furthermore, this game may increase students' motivation in reading. As students learn about the books that their classmates have read, they may become interested in reading the same books. Finally, doing this activity enables the teacher to get some information on what students read and how much they understand.