Communicative Activity for Verb Tenses: “Reincarnation”

(Originally published in my book Brainstorming. Moscow: Manager, 2001. This is an updated version.)

Language Focus: Activating the simple future tense and used to + (base verb).

Level: Intermediate.

Format: Whole class.                                                                                 

Objective: To guess one’s identity in past and future lives.


STEP 1: Define “reincarnation”.  (Tip: Present this concept as a personal belief some hold, not necessarily as an aspect of any particular religion. Avoid digressing into a discussion of different faiths.)

STEP 2: Select one student to be in the “hot seat”. This student should sit with his/her back to the board, facing the class. The teacher writes a past and future identity on the board.  Example: DUCK (past) – ASTRONAUT (future).

STEP 3: The class will call out clues to help the student guess first what or who s/he was in the past and then what or who s/he will be in the future.

MODEL A:            

S1 – “You used to live in water.”                         

S2 – “You used to fly south for the winter.”                                                                                 

S3 – “You used to say quack a lot.”                                                                  

S in hot seat: “I used to be a duck. Right?”                                                                                                      

Class: “Yes!”


MODEL B:                                                                                              

S4 – “You’ll fly to the moon.”                                                                                  

S5 – “You’ll live in a space ship.”                                                                     

S in hot seat: “Will I be an astronaut?”                                                                                                             

Class: “Yes!”



  • If done in pairs, hand out lists A and B (2-3 sets of identities per list). Student A and Student B take turns providing clues for the other to guess about past and future lives.
  • If done in small teams with the same number of members, each team member can have a turn in the hot seat. If done in large teams, select three members from each team to take a turn in the hot seat. Time how long it takes for each team to guess all the identities. The team that completes the task the fastest wins.
  • If done with lower level students, you may restrict the game to only past lives or only future lives.
  • If done with more advanced students, you may increase the difficulty by including practice of the simple past tense or “going to + BASE VERB”.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Amy says:

    Excuse me, I have a question for English.
    What is the “be” mean?
    Why sometime they use “will” sometime they use “will be” or should be, going to be, could be. What is “be”?

    Thank you ma’am

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