— Roger Ascham
So, teachers of English as a second language (ESL) are always looking for easy conversation activities good for such purposes as they provide students with the optimal opportunity to speak as well as enhance their vocabulary and grasp the subtle grammatical nuances of English as a language. These activities also act as good warm-up games and backup exercises that require little to no preparation. However, it is essential that these exercises have a clearly defined structure with a clear beginning and end. In order to achieve that, the following card game to initiate and strengthen the speaking skills of a student can be played in class anytime.
This activity does require a little bit of advance preparation, but once you’ve readied the props, you can reuse them over and over again with no planning. The first step is to create a list of 52 questions or topics corresponding to the 52 cards in a standard playing card deck. Your list must have the name of a card written on the left with the corresponding question or speech topic assigned to it on the right. For example:
- Ace of Spades: What would you do if you won the lottery?
As for the content of the questions or topics, the sky is the limit. This activity can be used as a "getting to know you" activity, for grammar practice, or as a way to discuss thought-provoking issues.
When you have created the list, print out enough copies for each group in your class to have one. Since this game is flexible, groups can contain 2 to 6 players. The game also works well in one-to-one situations. You can collect the lists from students at the end of class so that you can use them several times over.
You’ll also need one deck of playing cards for each group. The game can be played with less than a full deck, but there must always be enough cards for each player to have a minimum of three cards.
With the materials at hand, you can play this game anytime, anywhere. The rules are also very simple and take almost no time to understand.
- Each player takes three cards from the deck and silently reads the questions corresponding with the chosen cards.
- On the arrival of an individual's turn, the player shows one card and answers the corresponding question after the teacher or another group member has read the question out loud. Optionally, other players can check the student’s grammar for correctness and fluency. If the grammar is correct, the student keeps the card. Otherwise, the card is discarded.
- The player who gets to keep the most number of cards till the end is the winner. For more free form conversation practice, a player can choose to pass cards to another player who must then answer the question. In this version, no scoring takes place.