Identity theft

IMG_20170308_083830Here’s a report on another no-prep activity I tried with a couple of my classes.  As the title reveals, I call it Identity theft.

The inspiration came from spy movies. The story usually goes like this: to assume the identity and physical appearance of a ruthless terrorist, for example, an agent undergoes a face-transplant surgery or puts on a type of synthetic skin.  Then, by memorizing every single detail about the terrorist’s life, he makes it so that nobody (not even the terrorist’s mother) can tell that it’s actually not that terrorist. 🙂

This is how the activity goes:

1. Demonstrate first (see point 3 below).

2. Divide the class into groups of 3 or 4 (based on my experience, 3 is the minimum while 4 is the ideal number).

3. Demo stage:

a) Invite one student to sit on the chair at the front of the classroom. Tell him/her that he/she has stolen somebody’s identity, i.e. is a secret agent who’s going to pretend to be somebody else. It’s best if he/she chooses somebody in the class he/she knows well.

b) Ask the student some easy questions which you think he/she will be able to answer without major difficulties, but add some tricky ones as well:

  • What’s your full name? > My name’s … (the name of the person whose identity has been stolen)
  • Have you got any brothers or sisters? 
  • What’s your address? (this is actually quite tricky and so far, everybody has struggled to answer this)
  • When’s your birthday? (not easy either)
  • What’s your favorite color?

4. Group work: Tell the class that in each group, person A is going to be the secret agent – the one who steals person B’s identity. Person B listens carefully and indicates with thumbs down if a question was answered incorrectly or inaccurately. Person C (or C and D if it’s a group of four) ask(s) questions. After some time they change roles.

5. Sts go back to their places: Ask Sts to write a couple of sentences each about something they learned during the activity (it should be a fact they hadn’t known before), i.e. Jane has three sisters.

From a grammatical point of view, as you can probably guess, this activity is great for practicing question formation. From an interaction perspective, it works best with groups where the students know one another quite well, but it can also be a great team-building activity.  I’d like to add that I left the actual grouping up to the students, but it’s not a condition, I guess.

And, yeah, it’s fun.




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Hana Tichá

I'm an EFL teacher based in the Czech Republic. I've been teaching English to learners of all ages and levels for almost 30 years. You can find out more about me and my passion for teaching here on my blog.

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