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Private Joke ® in the MFL Classroom = Creativity + Confidence.

Secondary MFL teacher Julia Rowe reflects on trialling Private Joke ® with her students. Julia was one of five UK-wide teachers accepted to trial Private Joke ® (physical & digital) in Winter 2023.

Picture this: October half term, an idyllic loch surrounded by mountains in the middle of nowhere in Scotland, and no reception. Well, no phone reception, but just about enough WiFi connection to schedule a call between myself and Olive. Sat in those beautiful surroundings, Olive and I spent 45 minutes discussing teaching and learning, exam challenges and, above all, our love of language learning and enthusiasm for others being able to develop their own love of languages.

I discovered that both of us are passionate about languages being accessible for all learners – regardless of social, economic and academic background. Languages have the ability for all learners to access different cultures and learn about the world outside their own communities.

Above all, language learning encourages learners to aspire to become a part of the global community.

This shared ethos is what particularly attracted me to become part of the PJ trial, especially the idea that learners of all abilities can access the game and compete on a level playing field with their peers.

Physical Private Joke ®

Olive sent me a physical copy of the game and I trialled this with three different groups of Sixth Form students. I first trialled the game with a group of three students – all of whom studied German. I took the role of observer, as I did not want to restrict their freedom and creativity whilst playing. The

students initially found it a little tricky to understand the instructions, but, once they had got the

hang of the game, they really enjoyed it.

They laughed a lot at the cards and created words to describe the scenario on the cards. The students were able to describe the words that they had created and why they had created those particular words – some of the words were ridiculous and they enjoyed pointing that out to each other. One of the students enjoyed the game so much that she asked for a copy of it for Christmas.

I also trialled the game with my Year 12 German class. It is a small class and so I played the game with them. I think that my presence initially restricted them and that they felt a little awkward; however, after a couple of rounds, they then relaxed a bit more and we were able to play the game well together. I have to say, I felt a little pressured to create great words being the teacher, but I then relaxed myself and we all enjoyed creating new words and then learning whether there were actual words to describe the scenarios on the cards.

Digital Private Joke ®

In addition, I trialled the online version of PJ with one of my Year 10 German classes. We initially

trialled the game with me as Carte Meister but I think that there were too many of us playing the

game at once, as it was quite slow waiting for students to choose their letters and make their words.

We then played with small groups of students of 5-8 so that they could play with the students that

they felt most comfortable and confident with, whilst I circled around the room, checking that the

students were okay and getting feedback. That worked much better and their confidence levels and

creativity then rose as they could work with students that they knew and could have a laugh with.

The feedback from students was really positive and my second Year 10 German class asked me why they weren’t able to trial the game as it was “all the other class were talking about, the game”.

I then managed to move classrooms and the students cheered when I told them we were trialling the

game as well, because the feedback from the first class had been so positive. The feedback from this

class was very positive as well. We immediately split the class into their own groups, rather than me

being Carte Meister. They enjoyed making their own words and, the only slight issue they had, was

with the Carte Meister having the final choice as to their favourite word, if it was a tie, as they didn’t

think that was fair!

Creativity =


From my experience of playing both the physical and online game versions, learners really enjoyed

experimenting with words, they laughed a lot when creating their own words. Playing PJ enabled students to develop confidence in their own abilities – they were able to be creative and it didn’t matter who the strongest students academically were – they were all equal.

The students really enjoyed making the literacy links between their native languages and between languages that they are learning, have learned or even have never seen. Students were able to put the principles of knowing how words work into action and then enjoyed trying to pronounce the words.

I can really recommend PJ – it gave the students creative freedom and accuracy wasn’t an issue so they could just have fun and experiment with language.

Author: Julia Rowe

Private Joke can be purchased direct from our site here. Games cost 29.99 GBP and can be played with 30+ students at a time. Please email Olive @ if your school would like to purchase 5+ and we can set you up with a discount code.


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