The game “Routines” is a brilliant method to instigate a balance of concentration and language repetition among ESL learners. Utilizing a simple setup of a deck of playing cards along with a pencil and paper for scoring, this game is a perfect fit for a small class of 2 or 4 students. For larger classes, dividing them into pairs or groups solves the issue.

The essence of this game lies in its ability to immerse students so deep in concentration that the repetitive usage of the target language happens almost unnoticed.

The language focus is on constructing sentences using the pattern “(person) (verb + noun) at (number on the card) o’clock,” such as “I watch TV at 9 o’clock,” or “She goes to school at 7 o’clock.” Kickstarting the game requires introducing the target language and pulling out the number cards 1 through 9 from a standard deck of playing cards. These cards are shuffled and laid face-down on a table in a 3x3 grid.

As the game unfolds, Player One flips any card and crafts a sentence following the target language pattern, integrating the card number as the time in the sentence. For instance, turning a card number 3 could yield “I go to school at 3 o’clock.” This card now becomes the first card in the routine, earning Player One a point before it's flipped back to face-down.

The torch then passes to Player Two, who must remember and flip the same first card, reciting the sentence Player One created, before flipping a new card and adding to the routine with a new sentence. For instance, flipping a number 8 card could be followed by “I wake up at 8 o’clock.” Now the routine is: “I go to school at 3 o’clock. I wake up at 8 o’clock.” Player Two earns two points for correctly following and extending the routine.

Player One resumes, aiming to recall and enact the established routine, then flipping a new card to add another sentence to the routine. This alternating pattern continues, with the routine growing longer with each turn as players turn over one additional card and craft a new sentence.

The challenge hikes up as players strive to remember the routine, turning over the cards in the correct order, and articulating the sentences accurately. A misstep, like flipping a wrong card or faltering on a sentence, costs a player their turn, handing another turn to the competitor.

This engaging drill continues until all nine cards have been correctly turned over in sequence, adhering to the target language. The curtain falls on the game as the points are tallied, crowning the player with the highest score as the victor. Through “Routines,” students get a creative and engaging avenue to practice and reinforce their language skills, all while diving into a fun, competitive learning atmosphere.

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