Card Games & Class Control in Tokyo

(There are lots of videos in today’s post, so if you are on email then click here to see them!)

Today we had a workshop in Shinjuku Tokyo right outside the Ministry of Defence!

One of the requests for was for some card games using the Mini Cards. Now to be honest I don’t really like card games as although they are really fun, the kids tend to spend more time sorting out the cards than speaking English.  But if you really have to use them….

* First do the Do you have any pets? song to get the English in their heads (or whatever theme you are teaching that day)

* Then you could try the   Do you have.. ? Card Game

But as you can see from the video below, you really have to have really good control over the class as otherwise it just turns into chaos!

Shut it down!

I also have no hesitation in shutting a game down right away if the kids stop listening – even the teachers below were a bit surprised!

It is important as otherwise no English gets practiced.

If you forget a rule…

Part way through I noticed I’d forgotten an important rule “Only English during the game” (of course it’s important to use the kids’ native language when explaining the game, but not during the game!)

The clap technique that I show in the Beginner’s Workshop Video doesn’t work when they have cards in their hands, so I had to teach them another class control technique!

Normally you would do only one game for one lesson, but seeing as the teachers wanted to see some more games we just re-used the same English with Island Hopping

And then the minicards version of the Leapfrog Game:

So as you can see I’m not a big fan of card games in class!  I much prefer “no preparation” games like the ones I wrote up in the Genki English Manual as the kids spend way more time actually speaking.

But what do you think?  Answers in the comments please!

Richard Graham

Hello, I'm Richard Graham. And when I was a kid I found school to be sooooo boring... So I transformed my way of teaching. I listened to what the kids were really wanting to say and taught it in ways they really wanted to learn. The results were magical. So I'm sharing it all with you now...

6 Responses to “Card Games & Class Control in Tokyo”

  1. Margit

    I haven’t watched all the videos yet, I’ll need a bit more silence for that.

    About the card games:
    I agree that card games aren’t really of much value when teaching big classes. I’ve tried it a few times when teaching ES, but it’s too much explanation, too many things to copy, too few people really involved in the game and so much less outcome than teaching the other type of games.

    BUT, for smaller classes (for me this means up to 8,)
    they are great. The kids love them, and if they come early, or between the lesson have to be on their own for some minutes, they play them very disciplined on their own.

  2. richard

    Ah, good point! That might explain why they are so popular!

  3. Gumby

    Hmm Interesting. Are you including card games like the Name card game, Make 10 game (students have one number and have to the card that adds up to 10) and karuta? These seem to work fine with me. There is a lot of prep for the first time but then you just keep them in separate bags to use with multiple classes.

  4. richard

    Yeah, basically any activity that requires each kid to have their own cards/sheets. It’s not the preparation as such, it’s the ratio of the amount of English spoken compared with time spent handling the cards. When you see the videos like this its especially startling how little English is spoken compared with the no preparation games.

  5. Martin

    I always have to remember that point, Margit. My BIGGEST classes are ONLY 12 kids. I actually tend to stay away from card games unless the class has 6 or fewer students (because the only card game I usually play is the ONE CARD LEFT game as a review/reward), though “Do you have any …?” is a PERFECT time to play a GO FISH type game or a little more chaotic mingling GO FISH.

  6. Emmanuelle

    I like to alternate genki, high energy games with card games…the card games help the kids calm down when they are tired…if I can play the game with 6 or less kids, it gives me the opportunity to check whether they actually know the vocabulary

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