Telepatia: Activating Prior Knowledge

Telepatia: Activating Prior Knowledge

June 11, 2021

Our students have such a breadth of knowledge and a base of vocabulary that can be widely varied, especially if they come from different teachers at the prior level.  Not one student leaves my class without acquiring some of my favorite phrases: 


Chao chao, nos vemos

Ya veo…

But if they come from Andrea’s class, you’ll hear them say 

No hay problema and ¿EN SERIO? all the time.  

Not to mention, as we spiral our way through the curriculum at all levels, lots of words just keep coming up, right?  So Telepatia is a great way to get them thinking of all of the things that they do know, and it’s a game, so they have fun with it! Extra bonus.  It requires zero prep.  ZERO.  Like, literally nothing.

To play:

Have students pair up.  They should sit back to back with their partner, each with a piece of paper and a pen or pencil.  If you have mini-white boards and enough dry erase for everyone, even better.  


  • Give students a topic.  For example En la escuela (in school, for you non-Spanish speaking people).
  • Set a timer for one and a half minutes (or just keep an eye on the clock). You may want to reduce this if you see a category is particularly difficult. Students should write down every word they can think of.  It can be things like teacher, student, etc. or clubs, popularity, etc, depending on their level.  At upper levels, you can even categorize those words and give extra points for more ‘advanced’ words.
  • When the timer is up, students will compare the words and earn a point for every word that they have in common, hence the name Telepathy!
  • Then, move to the next topic!  

Just think about how many different topics you could use, and how you could scaffold to activate prior knowledge!  

Some examples:

At home → the bathroom → things we waste 

Those would all lead SO WELL in our La huella hídrica unit! 

At school → Relationships → why people are mean to others

This goes from basic to essential question focused in the Digamos no al bullying unit.


And if you have NOVICE level in those first days of class?  I know what you're thinking..."won't work!" So try this:  Comidas en español, Lugares, Famosos, and depending on where you live, there could be street or city names. For example, here in San Diego, there are cities like Rancho Bernardo, Encinitas, and streets like Via de la Valle... Consider starting with an example for each category:

Puerto Rico
Pedro Pascal get them started and see where it goes!  You can even put students in pairs and have them compete against another pair to help generate ideas.

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