By Kevin Fabris

November 2, 2016

10 - 20 Minutes, 15 - 20 Minutes, Card Game, Easy ESL Games,, EFL, ESL, Fun, Game, Games, Guessing Game, High School, Learn It, Some Materials Required, Speaking, Teams, Use It, Vocabulary

The Details about Routines:

  • The only materials required are a deck of playing cards plus a pencil and a piece of paper to keep score.
  • This game is ideal for a small class of either 2 or 4 students.  If you have a larger class simply divide your class into groups or pairs.
  • I love this game because it uses so much concentration students forget the amount of target language repetition involved.

The target language is “(person) (verb + noun) at (number on the card) o’clock.  E.g. “I watch T.V. at 9 o’clock.” “She goes to school at 7 o’clock”.

How To Play Routines:

  1.  Introduce the target language.  In this example I’ll be using routines and time.
  2. Take the 1 – 9 card out of a regular deck of playing cards.
  3. Shuffle the cards and lay them face down on the table in a 3 x 3 grid.
  4. Player one turns over any card and uses the number on the card to make a sentence using the target language. E.g. “I go to school at 3 o’clock.”  From now on that card is the first card in the routine.
    Player one is then awarded 1 point because they turned over one card and used the sentence correctly.
  5. Turn the 3 card back over so that all of the cards are face down once again.
  6. Player two must then turn over the same card player one tuned over and repeat player one’s sentence.  In this example it was the number 3 card and the sentence was “I go to school at 3 o’clock.” Next, Player two must then turn over a second card and make a new sentence using the number on the card as the time. E.g. “I wake up at 8 o’clock.
    I go to school at 3 o’clock. I wake up at 8 o’clock.”
  7. Player 2 is then awarded two points because they used the target language correctly for the first and second card.
  8. Now player one has to turn over the the first and second cards in order and use the target language correctly before turning over the third card (they can choose any card that hasn’t been turned over yet) . E.g. I go to school at 3 o’clock. I wake up at 8 o’clock. I eat dinner at 6 o’clock.
    “I go to school at 3 o’clock. I wake up at 8 o’clock. I eat dinner at 6 o’clock.”
  9. Repeat the process using one extra card every time until either one player turns over a card out of order or forgets the correct sentence.
  10. If a player makes a mistake they forfeit their turn and the competing player gets another turn.
  11. Once all nine cards are turned over in order while using the correct target language: it’s time to tally the points.  The player with the most points is the winner.

This game is great in both adult and high school level classes.  Students realize that there is a lot or repetition of the target language however the difficulty of the game ensures everyone still has a great time.

You can easily adapt this game to work with almost any target language.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Teach singular vs plural with “I have (number) dogs.”
  • Teach food + countable non-countable  with “I want 3 hamburgers”, “I want nine plates of pasta”, etc
  • Write a list of verbs, nouns or adjectives that correspond to the numbers 1 – 9.  If number 1 on the list = the verb “play”, the student must use the verb “play” in a sentence when the 1 card is flipped over.   
  • Teach want vs have with “I want 3 cars”, “I have 6 brothers”.


I love using this game because it’s easy to set up, effective and lots of fun.  Give it a try in your next ESL class and let us know how it goes.



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