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Vol 34 No 3, July - September 1996 Page 38 PREVIOUS ... CONTENTS ... SEARCH ... NEXT


English Cards
TEFL with Nothing but a Full Deck
by Terrence M. Gardiner


Many of us often find ourselves teaching under conditions that do not always make photocopying, overhead projectors, VCRs, cassette recorders, lights, chalkboards, or even the basic four walls possible. It may also be the case that many of us are just tired of all the paper waste and chalk dust that go into our jobs. Necessity being the mother of invention, I have developed a series of exercises for beginners, or for students that simply need practice speaking, that allow your basic deck of playing cards to function as an all-in-one visual aid. English Cards allows you the opportunity to experiment with your choice of language teaching methodologies in an assortment of practical tasks while never having to resort to translation. All that's needed to teach with English Cards is one complete deck of playing cards for every four students (desperate teachers can manage on one deck for an entire class), paper and pens/pencils. If the students are younger, or if playing cards are not available, with paper and scissors, you can create as many decks of playing cards as you need.

Each Exercise is separated into Tasks and each task is separated into three or more of the following: Preparation, Instructions, Visualization, Vocabulary, and Review. Preparation, Instruction , and Vocabulary sections are self-explanatory. The Visualization section provides a time to write out the vocabulary so students can make connections between the sound of each word and its spelling. This can also be a time to explain minor grammar points (in English). The Review section is a time to measure what vocabulary/phrases the students have retained or forgotten. One method of review is to start the sentence and allow the students to finish it; ex., (from Exercise 2) January is____________ (in the winter). Another good review method is to form questions/answers (Q/A) without the use of the cards; ex., (from Exercise 3) Q. "What month is this?", A. "This month is April."




EXERCISE 1: Cardinal numbers


Instructions: Use the playing cards to demonstrate the numbers, the Ace being 1, and the ten being both 10 and O (the Jack, Queen, and King are not needed here). A restricted use of the Audiolingual Method followed by the Silent Way functions well here. Take the time to drill the students until they have a good grasp of 1-100, and 100-1,000.


Task 1:


Preparation: Separate each deck of playing cards according to suits (hearts, diamonds, spades, and clubs). Give each player in a group of four a different suit of cards (ex., player one will have the Ace of hearts to the 10 of hearts, player two will have the Ace of diamonds to the 10 of diamonds, etc.)


Start


Player 1: Displays on the table one card or a series of cards that make up a number (ex., Ace + 2 + 3 = 123).


Player 2: Says the number out loud - "one hundred twenty three." If player 2 can answer, s/he gets a point; if not, player 3 can try to answer and earn the point.


Player 2: Displays.(continue in this fashion, play up to ten points) Finish


Task 2:


Preparation: Each player has a suit of cards from Ace to 10.


Start


Player 1: Says a number out loud.*


Player 2: Displays Player 1's number on the table with his/her cards. If player 2 is correct, s/he gets a point; if not, player 3 can try to answer and earn the point.


Player 2: Says a.(continue in this fashion, play up to ten points)


Finish


*This is a listening drill. Students are not allowed to write.


Task 3:


Exercise 1: Bingo Variation


Preparation: Each player has a complete suit of cards from Ace - King


Diagram:




Jack Queen King
------- ------- -------
------- ------- -------
------- ------- -------


Start


The row of Jack, Queen, King serves as the Bingo row. Players put the rest of their cards in any order in the remaining spaces. As in Bingo, you call out a number such as Jack-Two. Those who have a 2 in the Jack row can turn that card over. The first player to have three turned-over cards in a row (across, down, diagonal) yells out Jack, Queen, King.


Finish


Visualization: See paragraph 1


Vocabulary: Cardinal numbers, Jack, Queen, King


Review: See paragraph 1




EXERCISE 2: Months


Instructions: Use the playing cards to demonstrate the months-(Ace) January, (2 )February, to (Queen) December. Take time to drill the students until they have a good grasp of the months.


Arrange the cards in a square formation, with three cards to a side: (Queen)Dec. (Ace)Jan. and (2)Feb. on one side representing winter, (3)Mar. (4)Apr. and (5)May on another side representing spring, (6)Jun. (7)Jul. (8)Aug. on another side representing summer, and (9)Sept. (10)0ct. (Jack)Nov. on the last side representing fall as in the diagram below.




Summer

(Jun)  (Jul)  (Aug)

6    7     8

 

Spr. (May) 5
(Apr) 4
(Mar) 3

 

9 (Sept)
10 (Oct)
Jack (Nov)
Fall

 

2    Ace Queen

(Feb) (Jan) (Dec)

Winter


Is vs. are: Use the card formation to help explain the following sentences.


December, January, and February are in the winter. March, April, and May are in the spring. June, July, and August are in the summer. September, October, and November are in the fall (autumn).*


January is in the winter


April is in the spring.


July is in the summer.


October is in the fall (autumn).


Winter is cold.


Spring is wet.


Summer is hot.


Fall (Autumn) is cool.


*A bit of acting is required here. Take time to drill the students until they have a good grasp of when to use is vs. are in the example sentences above.


Task 4: America/Australia


Preparation: Set up two diagrams of the months, one representing America and one representing Australia. Demonstrate to the students that summer in America is winter in Australia, that spring in America is fall (autumn) in Australia, etc. A map would be helpful here to assist in teaching a little geography.


Start


Begin by calling out AMERICA to begin the game, but rotate throughout the course of the game between AUSTRALIA and AMERICA .


Player 1: "January is in the______."


Player 2: "January is in the winter ." If player 2 answers correctly, s/he gets a point; if not, player 3 can answer for the point.


Player 2: March, April, and May are in the______."


(continue in this fashion, play up to ten points)


Finish


Visualization: See paragraph 1


Vocabulary: Months, seasons, and, in, the, are, is, cold, wet, hot, cool, America, Australia.




EXERCISE 3: This month, next month, the month after next, last month, the month before last


Instructions: Arrange the cards in the same month/season diagram like below.




Summer

(Jun)  (Jul)  (Aug)

6    7     8

 

Spr. (May) 5
(Apr) 4
(Mar) 3

 

9 (Sept)
10 (Oct) Fall
11 Jack (Nov)

 

2  1   Ace  Queen 12

(Feb) (Jan) (Dec)

Winter


Point to the cards in the diagram to help explain the following sentences.


This month is April.


Next month will be May.


The month after next will be June.


This month is April.


Last month was March.


The month before last was February.


Take time to drill the students until they have a good grasp of when to use the italicized words.


Task 5:


Preparation: Each group has a diagram of the months/seasons like above.


Start


Player 1: Puts his/her left finger on January.


Player 2: Says the name of the month, "This is January."


Player 1: Puts his/her right finger on February.


Player 2: Says, "Next month will be February."


Player 1: Puts his/her right finger on March.


Player 2: Says, "The month after next will be March."


Player 1: Puts his/her right finger on December.


Player 2: Says, "Last month was December."


Player 1: Puts his/her finger on November.


Player 2: Says, "The month before last was November."


Player 2: Puts his/her finger.(the game continue in this fashion, points are scored for every correct answer, play to 25).


Finish


Visualization: See paragraph 1


Vocabulary: Month, this, next, after, last, before, will be, was.


Review: Q and A.




EXERCISE 4: Ordinal numbers


Instructions: Use the cards to display two identical columns as follows:




(Cardinal) (Ordinal)
Ace (one) Ace (first)
2 (two) 2 (second)
3 (three) 3 (third)
4 4


Use these columns to help explain the difference between cardinal and ordinal numbers: one-first, two- second, three-third, etc. Take the time to drill the students until they have an understanding of ordinal numbers up to 100.


Use the cards to help diagram the dates below.


(April 24th) 4 24, (May 12th ) 5 Ace 2,


(June 1st ) 6 Ace, (December 7th) Queen 7, etc.


(drill enough dates until students understand the concept of month plus ordinal number).


Task 6:


Preparation: Each player has a suit of cards from Ace to Queen.


Start


Player 1: Displays a date on the table using his/her cards.


Player 2: Says out loud the date the displayed cards represent (emphasis here on ordinal #'s) If correct, player 2 gets one point; if not, player 3 can answer for the point.


Player 2: Displays a date.(continue in this fashion, play to 10)


Finish


Task 7:


Preparation: Each player has a suit of cards from Ace to Queen.


Start


Player 1: Says a date out loud, ex., April 26


Player 2: Displays the date on the table using his/her cards. If correct, player 2 gets a point; if not, player 3 can try to answer for the point.


Player 2: says a date.(continue in this fashion, play to 10)


Finish


Visualization: See paragraph 1


Vocabulary: Ordinal numbers


Review: Try to review the ordinal #'s orally without the help of the cards.




EXERCISE 5: Today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, yesterday, the day before yesterday


Introduction: Use the playing cards to help diagram the following sentences.


Today is April 23rd (4) (23).


Tomorrow will be April 24th (4) (24).


The day after tomorrow will be April 25th (4) (25).


Today is April 23rd (4) (23).


Yesterday was April 22nd (4) (22).


Take the time to drill the students until they have an understanding of the underlined words.


Task 8:


Preparation: Each player has a suit of cards from Ace to Queen.


Start


Player 1: Displays a month and day on the table with his/her cards; ex., April 23rd (4) (23).


Player 2: Says out loud the date displayed, "April 23rd," and proceeds to go through the pattern, "Tomorrow will be April 24th. The day after tomorrow will be April 25th, Yesterday was April 22nd. The day before yesterday was April 21st." Player 2 receives one point for each correct answer.


Player 2: Displays a month.(continue in this fashion)


Finish


Visualization: See paragraph 1


Vocabulary: Today, tomorrow, day, yesterday


Review: Q and A




EXERCISE 6: Years


Introduction: Use the playing cards to help diagram the following years.


Today is April 24th, 1996 (Ace 9 9 6).


1974 (Ace 9 7 4)


1925 (Ace 9 2 5)


1776 (Ace 7 7 6)


Task 9:


Preparation: Each player has a suit of cards from Ace to10.


Start


Player 1: Displays a year with his/her cards on the table


Player 2: Says the year displayed out loud. If correct, player 2 gets one point; if not, player 3 can try to answer for the point.


Player 2: Displays a year.(continue in this fashion, play to 10).


Finish


Task 10:


Preparation: Each player has a suit of cards from Ace to 10.


Start


Player 1: Says a year out loud


Player 2: Displays with his/her cards on the table the year spoken out loud by player one. If correct, player 2 gets one point; if not, player 3 can try for the answer.


Player 2: Says a year.(continue in this fashion, play to 10).


Finish


Visualization: See paragraph 1


Vocabulary: Numbers in years




EXERCISE 7: This year, last year, the year before last, next year, the year after next.


Introduction: Form the diagram below with the cards.




8

7

1996

5

4


Use the diagram above to help the students understand the following sentences.


This year is 1996.


Next year will be 1997.


The year after next will be 1998.


This year is 1996.


Last year was 1995.


The year before last was 1994.


Drill.


Task 11:


Preparation: Each player has a suit of cards from Ace to 10.


Start


Player 1: Displays his/her cards on the table for a particular year; ex., 1975 (Ace 9 7 5)


Player 2: Says the year out loud and begins the pattern, "This year is nineteen seventy- five, next year will be nineteen seventy-six, the year after next will be nineteen seventy- seven, last year was nineteen seventy- four, the year before last was nineteen seventy- three." Player two gets one point for each correct answer.


Player 2: Displays his/her cards.(continue in this fashion, play to 25)


Finish


Visualization: See paragraph 1




EXERCISE 8: Birthdays


Introduction: Use the playing cards to help diagram the following sentences.


I was born on February 27, 1968.


I am 28 years old.


He (King) was born on April 3, 1985.


She (Queen) was born on May 7, 1981.


You were born on February 27, 1968.


Drill.


Task 12:


Preparation: Each group has a deck of cards.


Start


Player 1: Displays cards for his/her birthday, ex., Feb. 27, 1968.


Player 2: Says out loud, "You were born on Feb. 27, 1968."


Player 2: points to the King and displays cards for a birthday; ex., May 6, 1972.


Player 3: Says out loud.(continue in this fashion, play to 10)


Finish


Visualization: See paragraph 1


Vocabulary: I, born, am, years, old, he, she, you, were.


Review: Q and A




EXERCISE 9: Days of the Week


Introduction: Use the playing cards to diagram the days of the week as below to help explain the sentences.




Ace 2 3 4 5 6 7
Sun. Mon. Tue. Wed. Thu. Fri. Sat.


Today is Wednesday.


Tomorrow will be Thursday.


The day after tomorrow will be Friday.


Today is Wednesday.


Yesterday was Tuesday.


The day before yesterday was Monday.


Drill.


Task 13: Modification of Task 8 can be applied here.


Visualization: See paragraph 1


Vocabulary: Days of the week


Review: Q and A




Exercise 10: Time


Introduction: Arrange the playing cards into the clock diagram as below.




Queen
Jack Ace

10

2

9

3

8

4

7

 

5

 

6

 


Use two different size pens/pencils/sticks and the diagram to help explain the times below.


It is 1:00.


It is 1:15.


It is 1:30.


It is 1:45 etc.


Drill .


Task 14:


Preparation: Each group should have a clock diagram.


Start


Player 1: Moves the arms of the clock to a time, ex., 2:30.


Player 2: Says the time out loud, ex., "two-thirty."


Player 2: Moves the arms.(continue in this fashion, play to 10).


Finish


Vocabulary: Numbers


Review: Q and A


Task 15:


Preparation: Same as Task 14


Start


Player 1: says a time out loud, ex., "three fifteen."


Player 2: Moves the arms of the clock to match the time, ex., 3:15.


Player 2: Says a time. (continue in this fashion, play to 10).


Finish


Visualization: See paragraph 1




Exercise 11: Prepositions


Instructions: Use the deck of playing cards to demonstrate drawing a card "from the top, from the middle, from the bottom," and placing a card "on the top, on the bottom, or in the middle."


Task 17:


Demonstrate an example of over, under, in-between-shuffle the deck and place down two cards face up. The object is to tell whether the next card will be over, under, or in-between. If the guess is correct, the player keeps the three cards. The player with the most cards at the end of the game is the winner.


Task 18:


Variation on telling time as in Task 14 and Task 15 using instead "five after one" or "five before one."


Visualization: See paragraph 1


Vocabulary: To draw, to place, from, top, middle, bottom, on, in, over, under, (in) between, after, before.




Exercise 12: Directions


Instructions: Use one of the face cards (Jack, Queen, or King) to demonstrate left, right, behind, above, below, next to, by, across from, on. This can most easily be done by standing the card up as it is itself standing, another face card standing up can be used to demonstrate "next to, by, across from, on".


Task 19:


Player 1: Creates a situation that player 2 must describe. Example, "The Queen stands (is standing) behind the Jack."


Task 20:


Player 1: Dictates a situation that player 2 must create (same situations as in Task 19).


Task 21:


(Demonstrate "to go" or "to walk" north, south, east, west, forwards, backwards, "to turn", using a face card) Player 1 creates a situation that player 2 must describe. Example: "The Queen walks (is walking) north." Other cards can be used for streets to make things more complicated (1st Ave., 2nd Ave., etc.)




Exercise 13: Schedule


Instructions: Set up the card as in the following diagram:


Prepare 40 square sheets of paper that have a description on one side; the other side is blank. There should be two sets of 28 sheets that match each other; ex., two sheets with French class, two sheets with gym class, etc. The 40 sheets should be shuffled and placed face down to fill in the card diagram below.




Mon. Tue. Wed. Thu. Fri.
Ace 2 3 4 5
9 sh sh sh sh sh
10 sh sh sh sh sh
jack sh sh sh sh sh
Que sh sh sh sh sh
ace sh sh sh sh sh
2 sh sh sh sh sh
3 sh sh sh sh sh
4 sh sh sh sh sh


Task 22:


Player 1 dictates a time and day (Monday at 3 o'clock) and player 2 overturns the corresponding sheet so both players can see what is written. Player 1 then dictates another time and day. The object is for the players to remember what is written on the sheets and force the other player to overturn a pair of sheets that match. The player with the fewest pairs of sheets at the end of the game is the winner.




Exercise 14: Idioms and card games


Instructions: Demonstrate the following idioms while teaching the following card games (age/cultural discretion is advised).




Idioms:


  1. Ace up one's sleeve.
  2. Go for broke.
  3. Hit the jackpot.
  4. In the chips/money.
  5. Lay one's cards on the table.
  6. Play one's cards right.
  7. Poker face.
  8. hen the chips are down.




Games:


  1. All fours
  2. Bango
  3. Go fish


(The description of the rules for these games and a wealth of other card games can be found in Hoyle's Modern Encyclopedia of Card Games by Walter B. Gibson.




Terrence M. Gardiner has taught English in Japan. He is currently a Peace Corps Volunteer in Turkmenistan.
 

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