This is a game invented by Breton, Prévert, Tanguy and Duchamp, four friends who were part of the Surrealist movement back in the first half of last century.
When they first came up with the idea of the game, a sentence stood out: “Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau” which literally translates as “The exquisite corpse will drink the new wine.” The name of the game “Exquisite corpse” stayed on from then.
Play this game when you have a quarter of an hour ahead of you.
For this following model, the focus on form is on the conditional tense as it’s a good way for students to use “you should (tu devrais)” which is so used in our daily speech. It could have been “you could (tu pourrais)”.
You can adapt the model to trigger off other incongruous scenarios. For instance, it could be about “boy meets girl in a special place, he said and she said and the consequences are …”
- Your students sit in a circle with a pen in hand.
- You give them a blank piece of A4 paper.
- On the board, you write down the incomplete sentences that they fill in one at a time.
- After each sentence they have completed, they fold over their sentence so the next student won’t be able to read it.
- On the teacher’s signal only (whistling/clapping/”Pass on to your left!”), the students pass on their piece of paper to their classmate on the left.
- At the end, when all the sentences have been written down, your students can unfold the sheet and read a 5-line story that shouldn’t make much sense but stimulates the imagination.
- Let your students share them with the whole class. Some of them will be quirky or hilarious (for example, the problem is that “I pee in bed” and the solution is “you should go to sleep!”).
Here is the template for the 5 sentences to complete one at a time:
- My name is … (je m’appelle …)
- I am … + age (j’ai … ans)
- I have a problem, I … (j’ai un problème, I …): the problem can be real or imaginary
- What do I have to do? (qu’est-ce qu’il faut que je fasse?): here get your students to write down the question as it is.
- You should … (tu devrais …)
If you want to use this activity to practise the subjunctive tense in French, you can too. Just change the last sentence to: Il faut que je … and that will force your students to use the subjunctive.
- Start with one round of writing and if your students are keen, you organise another round