Doodles: Psychoanalysis

This is a simple speaking activity that can provide practice for describing personalities. The lesson is designed for adults but could also be used with older teenagers.

Derek Spafford

Level: A2+

Age: Adults or Senior YLs

Make one copy of the worksheet per student.


  • On the board write Do you doodle? When do you doodle? Ask students if they know what doodle means. If nobody knows, invite students to speculate. Offer a few clues: Most people doodle when they are waiting or bored. You need a pencil or a pen to doodle. Finally explain the meaning or invite a student to look up the word in a dictionary and explain to the rest of the class.
  • Give each student a copy of the handout and tell them to spend three minutes doodling. They should doodle in each box. They should concentrate on their doodling and not copy or speak.
  • When students have finished doodling, put them into pairs; A and B.
  • Draw this key on the board:

1 = The way you see yourself

2 = The way other people see you

3 = The way you want to be seen

4 = The real you

  • Explain that they are going to pretend to be psychoanalysts. They should take turns to analyse each other’s doodles, using the key as a guide.
  • Put students into new pairs to repeat the speaking part of the activity.


Collect the worksheets in and then hand them out again in a random order. Students write a brief analysis of their doodler using the key as a guide.

Language Level


Submitted by doina.obuzic on Sun, 11/14/2010 - 13:55


great idea for a very weak and desinterested class!

interesting thing to make teenagers pretend they are psychoanalists and they can describe some other kid's personality.

Submitted by Viera on Wed, 02/06/2013 - 17:11


I do not understand this activity. The worksheet is just some shapes, where is the key? Have I missed anything? viera

Submitted by Paul Braddock on Thu, 02/07/2013 - 08:35

In reply to by Viera


Hi Viera There isn't a key. I think the idea is that the activity is fairly free without specific answers. Thanks, Paul

Submitted by carolina contreras on Thu, 12/03/2020 - 17:58

In reply to by Viera


Hi Dear friends there are just shapes, I didn´t find the worksheet about descriptions, I would like to practice this activity. 

Thanks for your comment - the idea in this activity is that students doodle freely on the worksheet (which has four boxes with different shapes). Then their classmates can "analyse" what they have drawn using the key - so the doodles in the first box represent how they see themselves etc. This "key" is in the main description of the activity above (not on the worksheet). The idea is that students can have some fun interpreting each others' doodles, whilst thinking creatively.

Submitted by nidaburneikaite on Wed, 02/06/2013 - 17:25


My students would need some help with the structures they are expected to use. It would be nice to have a list. Thank you :)

Submitted by Paul Braddock on Thu, 02/07/2013 - 08:41

In reply to by nidaburneikaite


Hi Nidaburneikaite I think the nice thing about this activity is that it does not demand use of any particular structures.

However, it is a good opportunity to look at certain fixed phrases like:

I think I'm someone who / the kind of person who/that...

I think people see me as someone who/that...

People think that I'm / I have...

I want people to see me as a...

I wish people would see me as...

I think these, rather than 'structures' can be more useful for language development sometimes.

Submitted by sheleen1 on Thu, 02/07/2013 - 10:12


I used this exercise with my adult class last night and they loved it!!! They embraced the concept fully and made both profound and light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek analyses. Great idea, thanks!!

Submitted by lisahj65 on Wed, 02/13/2013 - 15:01


I had something similar to this years ago from (IIRC) Recipes for Tired Teachers or some such Friday afternoon-y type of book. It always went down brilliantly at all levels. Thanks for reminding me of it!

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