Disappearing text memory games (TEFLtastic Classics Part 38)

This is another activity that I’ve used regularly as long as I can remember and I’ve finally got around to writing about, inspired by its appearance in my new e-book. If you like anything here and want more, please support TEFLtastic.

This is perhaps the best game of all for memorising things which are comparatively fixed like beginnings of phone calls and shopping conversations.

I first started play the Disappearing Text Game without worksheets, and that simple variation can still sometimes work. The teacher puts a short text such as a presentation introduction or a meeting someone for the first time dialogue up on the board. One student reads out the whole thing and then asks for one word to be deleted. The next student reads out the whole thing, including the missing word, then asks for a second word to be deleted. This continues around the class, with another word deleted each time, until nobody can remember the missing words or the whole text has gone. If you want to score, everyone else gets a point if someone guesses wrongly. The teacher should praise any guesses which can go in the gaps, but only accept exactly the words that were originally there.

The good points of the up on the board version of Disappearing Text Game include being able to improvise (somewhat) and the teacher being able to give lots of feedback, but in all but very small groups it can be so long before someone’s next turn that they don’t really concentrate and so are not able to fill enough of the gaps when their turn comes to make the activity worthwhile. I therefore prefer to play the game in small groups. This can be done by making worksheets with the dialogue in a table with one word per gap, and making cards the same size as the boxes in the table to cover the words with one by one. You obviously need to make sure that students can’t see through the covering cards, by using coloured paper, printing “XXXXX” on each card, etc. The students can then play exactly the same Disappearing Text game in groups, with the added advantages that they can look under the cards to check their guesses of the missing words if they need to, and that they can keep the worksheets afterwards for reference.

Here are some worksheet-based Disappearing Text Games that I prepared earlier:

Ending presentations disappearing text memory game (in this e-book) – NEW

Starting presentations disappearing text memory game (in this e-book) – NEW

First Certificate Speaking Part Two disappearing text memory game

Shopping dialogues jigsaw text

Meeting people disappearing text game (in this e-book)

Disappearing texts instructions, playing cards and blank board (in this e-book)

Ending a phone call disappearing text (in this e-book)

Leaving and taking messages disappearing text memory game (in this e-book)

Not getting through disappearing text game (in this e-book)

Starting a phone call with someone who you know disappearing text (in this e-book)

Other things which work well with this game and will be in future e-books include:

Starting meetings disappearing text memory game

Ending meetings disappearing text memory game

IELTS Writing introductions disappearing text memory game

IELTS Speaking Part Two disappearing text memory games


The third variation that I’ve used is with the same cards as jigsaw text activities, before or after putting the cards together as a jigsaw. For example, if students have just put a phone conversation with one line on each card into order, they can then turn their choice of cards over one by one, saying the whole conversation each time. However, in this variation it is impossible for students to remember every word perfectly, so you’ll also have to allow other guesses which fit the gaps.

For many other jigsaw activities, many of which are suitable for this activity as well or instead, see:

TEFLtastic classics: Jigsaw games for EFL learners

and for the other most adaptable games in TEFL, see:

TEFLtastic classics parts 1 to 40

This entry was posted in Photocopiable worksheets, TEFL games and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Disappearing text memory games (TEFLtastic Classics Part 38)

  1. alexcase says:

    I just used with a Zoom class with one person in each breakout room deleting the words that each person chooses from their copy and worked really well.

    It wasn’t what I did, but suddenly realised this would work really well with a whole recipe for countable/ uncountable practice.

  2. alexcase says:

    Another possibility with an electronic copy is for students to change the words to white to hide them, which has the advantage that they can change them back to black if they forget what they were.

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