Two Truths and a Lie


This August I jumped into a new school using Bryce Hedstrom’s Persona Especial activities. I think it is a brilliant way to build a sense of community while scaffolding language for students with various backgrounds and  interests. I ran into a bit of an issue that I did not expect. In this small school the students already know each other. The input they were providing did not meet the compelling requirement because the details weren’t new.

Luckily, I remembered something that Latin teacher/CI guru Bob Patrick shared last year. He used the team building game called Two Truths and a Lie. Here is what I did below with level 2 and 3 Spanish students.

  1. I asked students to think of interesting details about what they own, like, want, have done, places they have gone, or people they have meet. I provided index cards so they could record them.
  2. As class discussion in Spanish, I asked students about their 3 details. I briefly used TPRS techniques to provide Target Language input with the information they provided.  This included writing the information of about 5 students per class on the board (75 minute period).
  3. As I wrote on the board I asked students to write down each detail of each student (see images) so they could find the lie.
  4. We picked a student to sit in the “hot seat” in the middle of the room and each student asked a question in the TL about any one of the details. This was a guided and safe activity since not all students are ready to provide such output.
  5. After asking a dozen questions we recycled the details in order to determine which was the lie.
  6. The “hot seat” student explained and shared their answers.


click image to view student work.



The students were engaged the entire 75 minutes, listened to a ton of Spanish, wrote in Spanish about themselves and their classmates, were encouraged to develop target language questions to their peers, answered questions, and didn’t realize that this was a lesson about high frequency present and past tense verbs and an introduction to present perfect grammar feature. Although I can see this particular student was into writing the above notes, the students were only asked to write about their classmates in order to keep track of details.

These students needed guidance when writing their details or posing questions to their classmates. These were not previously taught TPRS students.  This activity required lots of pointing and pausing to question words and grammar and vocabulary on the board.  During this lesson it was easy to find the magic of TPRS which included story-asking and personalization. The activity was focused on creating language about the students in the room and for that reason I loved it (for the students and about the students).

Two Truths and Lie worked so well today and I see that this activity can take several weeks of TL interaction and is perfect for second and third year language students. After this week, I plan to incorporate this game for class discussions after holiday breaks when we can ask about things that recently happened. On this day two big teaching and learning objectives were met with this lesson.

Students will understand spoken Spanish.
Students will read and understand written Spanish words.

Here is more about playing the game.

Two Truths and a Lie 

Start out by having every team member secretly write down two truths about themselves and one lie on a small piece of paper – Do not reveal to anyone what you wrote down! Once each person has completed this step, allow 10-15 minutes for open conversation – much like a cocktail party – where everyone quizzes each other on their three questions. The idea is to convince others that your lie is actually a truth, while on the other hand, you try to guess other people’s truths/lies by asking them questions. Don’t reveal your truths or lie to anyone – even if the majority of the office already has it figured out! After the conversational period, gather in a circle and one by one repeat each one of your three statements and have the group vote on which one they think is the lie. You can play this game competitively and award points for each lie you guess or for stumping other players on your own lie. This game helps to encourage better communication in the office, as well as it lets you get to know your coworkers better.

About This Author

1 Comment

You can post comments in this post.

  • Hey Mike, thanks for the report. I’ve had similar feelings about the Persona Especial and how we can keep it compelling in an environment where the students already know each other so well.

    I asked Bryce this weekend, and his response what quick, “But we don’t know everything about one another? I know you guys well (Grant B and me) but I want to know more.”

    Bryce seems to take these superficial details and go deeper than I had understood before, ratcheting up the questions to get to higher levels on Piaget’s taxonomy of human needs.

    I’m not saying I have accomplished it… but now I have more impetus to try again.

    Jim Tripp 3 years ago Reply

Post A Reply