Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Card Game

In my B.C.I (Before Comprehensible Input) days, there were lots of vocabulary activities which I loved playing with students, because they enjoyed them so much. Now that I am a CI teacher, I realize that many of them really do not lead to true language acquisition, but at the same time, does that mean I should throw them out? However, with a slight twist here or there, they can be adapted and be used easily for CI purposes. The Card Game is one of these activities.

I learned the Card Game years ago from my district's world language coordinator. It sounds like a very basic activity, and quite honestly, when I first explain it to students, it sounds the stupidest game ever. However, the Card Game was one of my students' favorite activities, because it was so competitive. NOTE - because my class is deskless, it is almost impossible for me to play this game, but if I were to have desks, I would definitely play it.

  1. 5-6 different colored stacks of 3x5 index cards, with each stack being 20-25 cards. Depending on the number of students, you may need more or less.
  2. A list of 20-25 vocabulary words which students already know. Again, depending on the number of students, you may need more or less. You can also use short phrases if you want. I would not use sentences because they are too long.
  1. In each stack of colored index cards, write one vocabulary word VERY BIG in the target language per card. By the end, you will have 5-6 different colored stacks, with each stack having the same vocabulary words.
  1. As the teacher, take one of the colored stacks of cards.
  2. Divide the class into 4-5 different teams (depending on how many stacks of colored cards which you have left).
  3. Give a different stack of colored index cards to each team.
  4. Have each team distribute its cards to its team member. Each team member may not necessarily have the same amount of cards. Usually 5-6 words is a good amount of cards for each student.
  5. On the board, write the names of the colors of the cards in the target language on the board. Each color represents a team.
  6. Have students lay their cards out on their desks FACE UP so that they can read what is written on the cards. Each student should have between 4-6 cards. 
  7. Now ask students if there are any words which they do not know and to ask you for the meaning. This is really important in order to establish meaning. 
  8. Explain to the students, "I am going to call out the English definition of a word. If you have that word, then hold up the card as high as you can as quickly as you can. HOWEVER, there are 4-5 other teams who have that same word. The first correct card which I see gets a point. Also, just because I call a word once does not mean that I cannot call it again."
  9. As the teacher, pick a card from your stack, and call out the English definition.
  10. If students have that word, they are to hold up that card. Whatever team's correct card you see first will get a point.
  11. As the teacher, put the card back in your stack, and pull out another card. Repeat the directions - the first team which gets 10 points wins.
  12. At the end of the round (when a team gets 10 points), have teams switch cards within themselves, e.g., students with green cards will switch stacks between each other. Now students have a new set of vocabulary words. If students do not know the words, they are to ask the student who just had them.
  13. Play another round.
  14. After 2-3 rounds, tell students that they are to either:
    1.  do a writing in the target language which involves the words which they have in their stack OR
    2. draw a picture which uses the words in their stack 
  1. This became my students' favorite game (when I had desks). I played it as an adult when I learned it, and WOW, it is a very competitive game.
  2. This game is FAST, so this can frustrate the slower processors.
  3. What I like about this game is when students switch stacks and I call out a definition, students, who just had the card but switched with someone, can get very frustrated, because they no longer have that word. This shows me that those students know that word now.
  4. Although you can have students do a writing afterwards, I have found that drawing a picture was easier for students and did not require as much thought as preparing to write something. 
  5. Because this can be a fast game and students will argue which card was held up first, I will also pick a student who will help me judge which team held up its card first.

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