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Our Ambiguous Language: Paper Folding Energizer

Brief Description/Purpose

Great energizer with a point; that even with very simple tasks, it's incredibly easy for a "listener" to interpret something differently from another, or the speaker.


Physical demonstration energizer

Age Appropriate

Any Age

Ideal Group Size

Any size, since it's done at front of class.

Time For Exercise

5-10 minutes


Communication, language

Detailed Instructions If Needed

Select four participants and ask them to stand in the front of the room, facing the group.

2. Give each of the four a sheet of paper. Explain that there are two rules. - Each person must close their eyes throughout the exercise. - They may not ask questions.

3. Ask them to fold their paper in half and to tear off the bottom right corner. Tell them to fold the paper in half again and to tear off the upper right corner, then to fold the paper in half again and tear off the lower left hand corner.

4. Ask them to open their eyes and to display the unfolded paper to each other and the audience. 

$   Discussion questions: - What words in the instructions could be interpreted different ways? - How could the directions have been clearer?

Additional Information if Available

(Courtesy of UNICEF)