image from Flickr by Aaron Lanrdy 
                 used under CC Attribution Non-Comercial license 


I’m quite sure most of you are familiar with this wonderful game. Just in case, I will briefly describe how it is played under its usual rules and later, how I have upgraded it to get the most out of it.

Taboo is a classic board game which I love to use with my students to revise vocabulary. From the very start of each school year, I start creating a new set of taboo cards with the vocabulary that derives from the syllabus and many of those other words that naturally come up during a class.

You can find printable sets online, but I prefer creating them myself to make sure it does cover the vocabulary we have worked on as a class.


This game can be played with the whole class and whoever guesses the word is up next, or even more exciting, create teams so they can compete against each other.

Teams of 2 or 3 students each is ideal, this way different members of the opposing team can watch over to make sure the rules aren’t broken and keep track of the time limit.


  • Explain to your team the word at the top of the card, without mentioning any of the taboo words below, within a certain time.
  • No miming or making gestures/sounds related to the word.


Keeping to the game element  and excitng energy of competing against fellow classmates, one thing about this version is that the pace is slowed down a bit, which gives students the time to reflect more on each of the words that come up.

This is because more information about each word will be demanded from students.

Points are awarded for:

  1. Guessing the word
  2. Marking the stress in the word
  3. Guessing the/some taboo words ( they can be asked to say a maximum of 2 or 3 related words that come to mind)
  4. Use it in a sentence.

They won’t need any help for the first three since all the information will be on the card. I usually mark the stress placing a little green box below the syllable or typing it in bold. (Whatever you normally use to mark the stress when you write words on the board).

As for the sentences, they must write them down and wait for feedback once they have finished playing. Go over them with the whole class. Give the students the opportunity to correct each other. Only once it has been corrected will they be able to assign a point for it. This keeps the possible winners in suspense until the end of the lesson. 🙂

A record sheet is given to each team so they can keep track of all this.

Answer Where is the stress? Taboo words Example sentence

Have fun!

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