Using Playing Cards for Oral Fluency
GAME 1: 1-MINUTE TOPICS
In this fluency game, which can be played with any number of
students, the four suits each represent a category:
Diamonds = the material world
Hearts = the emotional world
Spades = life’s dark side
Clubs = the future.
Sort the pack into the four categories and shuffle each category
so that the cards are in a random sequence.
Ask each student to pick a suit and take a card from the appropriate pile. They must talk
about the topic indicated:
Aces = superlatives
Kings = a man
Queens = a woman
Jacks = the student as a child
10 = home
9 = work/school/college
8 = holidays
7 = transport
6 = music
5 = clothes
4 = books/poems
3 = food
2 = films/TV
Ace: Talk about the possession you most value.
King: Talk about the most successful man you can think of.
Queen: Talk about the richest woman you can think of.
Jack: What was your favourite toy as a child?
Ten: Describe the furniture in your home.
Nine: What is the most useful piece of equipment in your place of work or study?
Eight: Talk about your last holiday.
Seven: What is your favourite method of transport?
Six: What kind of music do you listen to for relaxation?
Five: Describe the clothes you are wearing.
Four: Talk about the last book or poem you read.
Three: Give instructions for making an omelette.
Two: Describe the last film or TV programme you saw.
Ace: Talk about the most important person in your life.
King: Describe a male member of your family.
Queen: Describe a female member of your family.
Jack: What sort of child were you?
Ten: Describe your favourite room in your home.
Nine: Talk about the person you most respect in your place of work or study.
Eight: What is your idea of a romantic holiday location?
Seven: How do you feel about sea travel?
Six: What piece of music makes you feel really happy?
Five: What clothes do you feel most comfortable in?
Four: Talk about a book or poem that you like to read often.
Three: Describe your favourite food.
Two: Describe a film or TV programme that has made you laugh.
Ace: What was your most embarrassing experience?
King: Describe the qualities you most dislike in men.
Queen: Describe the qualities you most dislike in women.
Jack: What made you afraid when you were a child?
Ten: What would be the worst aspect of being homeless?
Nine: What do you like least about your job or your studies?
Eight: What would you do if you lost all your money and your passport on a holiday?
Seven: What are the disadvantages of modern methods of transport?
Six: What piece(s) of music would you never wish to hear again?
Five: Which kinds of clothes do you dislike wearing?
Four: Describe a book you had to read at school that you hated.
Three: Which foods do you detest?
Two: What TV programmes do find really boring?
Ace: What is your biggest ambition?
King: Which man would you most like to meet?
Queen: Which woman would you most like to meet?
Jack: What do you hope will be better for today’s children in the future world?
Ten: Describe the house of your dream.
Nine: If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
Eight: Describe holiday of your dream.
Seven: Which car would you really like to own?
Six: What piece of music would you choose for your wedding or the next great occasion in
Five: What would you wear to a very fashionable party?
Four: What book would you like as a present?
Three: What would you like to eat and drink on your birthday?
Two: What film or TV programme would you recommend your friends to see?
Shuffle the entire pack and let students choose cards at random.
Students work in pairs. Shuffle the entire pack and give students
a list of the categories and topics. One student picks a card at random and asks question
on the given topic of his or her partner.
GAME 2: ENGLISH IDIOMS
In this game, the four suits each represent a category:
Clubs = cats and dogs;
Hearts = farm animals;
Spades = birds and fish;
Diamonds = wild animals.
Each card corresponds to an idiom using an animal, bird or fish.
Deal each student 3 cards and give each student the idiom list below. Students take turns
in order of the value of the cards they hold, Aces, Kings etc. in descending order from
Diamonds, Spades, Hearts and Clubs. If the student knows the meaning of the idioms in his
or her hand, then all he/she has to do is to explain the meaning with an example of how it
might be used. If the student doesn’t know the meaning then the object of the game is
“bluff” and to give a very convincing false meaning. If you wish to score, then give
each student a point for every correct explanation and every successful bluff, i.e. when
the majority of the group votes that the explanation is correct.
Ace: A dog’s breakfast.
King: Set a cat among the pigeons.
Queen: Let the cat out of the bag.
Jack: A dog in the manger.
Ten: A dog’s life.
Nine: Curiosity killed the cat.
Eight: The tail is wagging the dog.
Seven: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
Six: While the cat’s away the mice will play.
Five: There’s life in the old dog yet.
Four: No room to swing a cat.
Three: The cat’s whiskers.
Two: Like the cat that got the cream.
Ace: Like a bull in a china shop.
King: Until the cows come home.
Queen: To separate the sheep from the goats.
Jack: Don’t count your chickens until they’re hatched.
Ten: Make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear.
Nine: To kill the goose that lays the golden egg.
Eight: What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
Seven: The black sheep of the family.
Six: Donkey’s years.
Five: Mutton dressed as lamb.
Four: A wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Three: Like a pig in clover.
Two: A dark horse.
Ace: A fish out of water.
King: One swallow doesn’t make a summer.
Queen: A different kettle of fish.
Jack: A big fish in a little pond.
Ten: To have other fish to fry.
Nine: The early bird catches the worm.
Eight: To kill two birds with one stone.
Seven: Birds of a feather flock together.
Six: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Five: Like water off a duck’s back.
Four: A red herring.
Three: A round robin.
Two: As the crow flies.
Ace: The lion’s share.
King: Like a bear with a sore head.
Queen: Monkey business.
Jack: A paper tiger.
Ten: Throw someone to the wolves.
Nine: A skin like an elephant.
Eight: Keep the wolf from the door.
Seven: A white elephant.
Six: To see pink elephants.
Five: A snake in the grass.
Four: A leopard doesn’t change its spots.
Three: A wild-goose chase.
Two: To beard the lion in his den.
GAME 3: IT’S ON THE CARDS: PRACTISING TALKING ABOUT THE FUTURE
Clubs: Plans and Arrangements
Hearts: Personal Intentions
Ace: Where are you going for your summer holidays?
King: Who are you seeing next week?
Queen: When is your mother coming to visit you?
Jack: When are you buying a new car?
Ten: When are you going to the dentist?
Nine: What are you doing on your birthday?
Eight: Who’s picking the children up from school?
Seven: What are you doing at the weekend?
Six: When are you taking your winter break?
Five: What are you doing for the New Year’s party?
Four: When are they getting married?
Three: When are you having your hair done?
Two: What are you cooking for Sunday lunch?
Ace: When are you going to have your hair cut?
King: What’s he going to study at university?
Queen: What are you going to do this summer?
Jack: When are you going to redecorate your bedroom?
Ten: What are you going to do this weekend?
Nine: When are you going to retire?
Eight: What are you going to buy your mother for her birthday?
Seven: How are you going to spend Easter?
Six: When are you going to phone your grandmother?
Five: How are you going to travel to work?
Four: When are you going to do the shopping?
Three: When are you going to book the tickets?
Two: When are you going to visit London?
Ace: How will global warming affect us?
King: Who will be the next President of France?
Queen: When will scientists find a cure for cancer?
Jack: Do you think we will ever colonise another planet?
Ten: Do you think the next Millennium will be more peaceful than this one?
Nine: What will you be doing in five years’ time?
Eight: How will your children’s lives be different from yours?
Seven: What will the weather be like tomorrow?
Six: Will you ever move to a different town?
Five: Will you ever change your job?
Four: Will you ever become a vegetarian?
Three: Will you ever learn to fly?
Two: Will you ever be a millionaire?
Ace: What will you do if you win the lottery?
King: What will you do if it snows at the weekend?
Queen: If you are successful in learning English, how will it help you?
Jack: If you go abroad for your holidays, which country will you visit?
Ten: Where will you live when you retire?
Nine: When you meet your friends, where will you go?
Eight: When you can relax in front of the television, what will you watch?
Seven: When your friends come to lunch, what will you cook?
Six: When it’s your husband’s/wife’s/boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s birthday, what
will you buy him/her?
Five: When you buy a new car, what model will it be?
Four: If you have to go to Paris, how will you travel?
Three: When the course finishes, how will you continue to study English?
Two: If I ask you to recommend a restaurant, what will you suggest?