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Using Logic Puzzles as a TEFL Speaking Activity for Adults

When I was teaching English to university students in China, I would sometimes open the class with a quick logic puzzle written or drawn on the board. I would present the puzzle and then put students into pairs or groups to try to discuss the answer (in English of course!) and then move around the groups to listen to what the groups had come up with and to see if any student could get the answer to the problem.

Using logic puzzles and logic problems is a very effective TEFL warmer or speaking activity for adults and teens, as everyone loves logic puzzles and it gets students speaking, thinking in English and interacting with you and each other right from the get go. Best of all, logic puzzles are easy to set up in your classroom, need very little preparation and lots of language will be produced. They’ll also save your bacon if something has gone wrong and you need to cover an unexpected ESL class which you don’t have a lesson plan or teaching material for. It’s also a great way to expand and teach new vocabulary to older ESL students.

Below are three logic puzzles for you to try to solve and to jot down so you can use them the next time you are teaching adults and teens.

Logic Puzzles as a TEFL Speaking Activity for Adults 1: The Car

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A guy is at home making coffee and realises that he doesn’t have any milk, so he grabs his keys from the table, unlocks his car and drives to the local shop. He buys the milk and leaves the shop and then notices that his keys are still in the locked car. The car doors are all locked and the windows are all done up. After thinking a while, he is driving home to make his coffee. How did he get into his car to drive home? (He didn’t break the lock or windows and didn’t have a spare key).

Answer at the bottom of this page.

Logic Puzzles as a TEFL Speaking Activity for Adults 2: The Lift

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Everyday, Beth Anderson leaves her London flat on the 24th floor and takes the lift down to the ground floor, where she takes a taxi to her job at the bakery. She works there all day selling London’s finest cakes sausage rolls. After work, she goes home, gets in the lift and goes up. However, she always gets out at the 20th floor and walks up the final four flights of stairs home. If it’s raining, she doesn’t walk, but goes all the way to the 24th floor using the lift. Why?

Answer at the bottom of this page.

Logic Puzzles as a TEFL Speaking Activity for Adults 3: The Light Switch

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You are in an empty room with a three-way light switch. Outside the room is a long corridor and up the stairs is another empty room with three ceiling lights. The switches in the room you are in control the three lights upstairs. Your job is to find out which switch controls which light. The problem is that you can only visit the room with the lights in once. How can you work out which switch controls which light if you can’t go back and forth to look?

Answer below!

Do you know any other logic puzzles? Please do send us a message with the logic puzzle you use in your TEFL classroom! We’ll publish it on TEFL Lemon and credit your idea!


Answers to the Logic Puzzles

The Car

A guy is at home making coffee and realises that he doesn’t have any milk, so he grabs his keys from the table, unlocks his car and drives to the local shop. He buys the milk and leaves the shop and then notices that his keys are still in the locked car. The car doors are all locked and the windows are all done up. After thinking a while, he is driving home to make his coffee. How did he get into his car to drive home? (He didn’t break the lock or windows and didn’t have a spare key).

ANSWER: It’s an open-top car and he climbed in, started the car and drove home.

The Lift

Everyday, Beth Anderson leaves her London flat on the 24th floor and takes the lift down to the ground floor, where she takes a taxi to her job at the bakery. She works there all day selling London’s finest cakes sausage rolls. After work, she goes home, gets in the lift and goes up. However, she always gets out at the 20th floor and walks up the final four flights of stairs home. If it’s raining, she doesn’t walk, but goes all the way to the 24th floor using the lift. Why?

ANSWER: She is very short and can’t reach the 24th button. On a rainy day, she carries an umbrella and uses it to hit the button she needs. On a sunny day, she has to walk.

The Light Switch

You are in an empty room with a three-way light switch. Outside the room is a long corridor and up the stairs is another empty room with three ceiling lights. The switches in the room you are in control the three lights upstairs. Your job is to find out which switch controls which light. The problem is that you can only visit the room with the lights in once. How can you work out which switch controls which light if you can’t go back and forth to look?

ANSWER: Turn on two of the switches and leave the other off. Wait for thirty minutes, then switch off one of the two switches which was on. In the room with the lights, one will now be on and the other two will be off. Of the two lights which are off in the other room, one will be hot (because it has been on for 30 minutes) and the other will be cold (it was never turned on). Simply walk to the other room and see which light is still on, which bulb is hot and which is cold, then you’ll know which switch controls which light!