Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Craft(y) Project: Creative ESL Card Game

A year ago, I was working at a Hyundai Oilbank refinery outside Daesan, in the middle of nowhere. The other woman living and working with me, Jules, found the basic rules for this game online, and we just kept adding onto it. That's the beauty of it: you can not only continuously add more cards and people to the game, but you can change the difficulty level with new topics, more complex sentence structures, longer exchanges, and so on. It even works when you mix cards of different topics in, and that makes it especially challenging. Plus it kills a lot of class time and is great for kids who enjoy drawing and making things.

Okay, so how it works is that: 

1) You fold a piece of printer paper into 6 boxes. Use a marker, coloured pencil, or crayon to draw lines between the boxes. Whip out all the colouring implements you have, actually. Let each kid do it their own way, with pencil, pen, whatever, but definitely encourage colouring.

2) At the top of each box, write the key word, depending on the topic you've chosen. If it's jobs, it'll be "Doctor", "Reporter", and things like that for lower-level speakers or younger kids, or "Pastry Chef", "Game Designer", "Zoologist", and more complex and creative ones for older kids who understand more and have more specific interests.


I really love that first one; stylistically, it's so cute. It came about because I had to explain to the very clever, funny kid who did the one on the far right that being drunk is not a job, and neither is being an alien. The kid who did the first one wanted to know if searching for aliens was a job, and sassy far-right kid immediately went from "drunk" to "teacher". That's his tie tied around his head, after he's been drinking beer.

If you're doing countries, hopefully you have a big world map on the wall in the room or something so that the kids don't need to whip their phones out to figure out the flags. I like to have them add those under the country's name. 
Be sure to tell them with this and all other topics that it'll be no fun if everyone pics the same basic countries or jobs, so if they've heard about anything interesting, now's the time to show off. Make sure friends sitting next to each other aren't doing all the same ones.


I dubbed this masterpiece, "Fear and Loathing in the Holy Land" and wanted to frame it.

3) Illustrate the cards. The illustration is probably going to be the "why". 
One sample dialogue would be, "Where do you want to go?" for lower-level speakers, or "Which country would you most like to visit?" if you want to make it more challenging. "I want to go to Brazil (because I want) to play soccer", or "I'd like to go to China to see the Great Wall" are both responses and the basis for the picture.


These are the ones I did. The Thailand one is supposed to be, "... because I want to see the beautiful beaches", and the Australia one, "... to see (the) interesting wildlife".

4) Cut out the cards and start playing when everyone is ready.

5) Have the kids line up in two rows, facing each other. Each round will consist of Kid 1 asking the question and Kid 2 answering, then asking Kid 1 the question and having him or her give their answer.

We added in rock scissors paper at the end because Koreans are super cereal about it and use it all the time. Maybe there's a different game or something you could use in other countries. After both kids have both asked and answered, they rock-scissors-paper, and the winner keeps the other's card. The one with the most cards at the end wins.

At the end of each of the exchanges, have the kids move down the row to the next partner, and continue for as long as seems appropriate. Every time I played this the kids got really into it because of how competitive and quick it became, and they were pretty much flipping out and yelling the questions by the end.


Here are my career cards after they'd gotten rained on in a side pocket of my bag. They were for a class of all girls, so they're a bit skewed toward the cute, fun side.

Save the cards and keep playing to get whatever vocab and structures you're using drilled into kids' heads. Write sample questions and answers on the board to help kids who need to be prompted. This is a great way to study for tests, too.