Index Card Games for ESL
Revised, 3rd Edition
by Raymond C, Clark, compiler
The ordinary index card with a word, a phrase, or a sentence on it has been a proven success in the classroom for many years. This collection is the starting point for what could be an extensive collection of index card games for you or for your department, and in this edition, there are dozens of games ready to be photocopied, cut out, and pasted on cards for a variety of enjoyable and useful activities. There are clear and concise directions for how to use the various games. The games in this book, however, should also serve as examples of games that you, the teacher, can create to fit your own teaching situation. All you need, in addition to a copier, scissors, and paste is a supply of 3 x 5 index cards. Once created, the games can be used over and over again.
The games can be one of the most enjoyable supplementary activities that you can do with your class, whether you use them once a week or once a day. In an intensive language program you can easily use them once a day and the students will not tire of them. Because the games are a supplementary activity, they are best used to review or practice material that has already been introduced. In a limited way, however, they can be used to introduce new bits and pieces of language - especially vocabulary items and idioms.
Beyond the fact that the games are fun and a welcome change of pace, they are also useful. They can serve as a painless review of previously studied material. They are also invaluable in helping build the class into a cohesive group, as long as the competitive aspect of the games is not taken too seriously. In several of the games, groups of students have to work together toward a common goal, whether it be solving a problem, or building up points and trying to win. In the process of working together, the students necessarily have to interact with each other to help, support, suggest, encourage, share, and even correct and challenge each other. Inevitably, some teasing, joking, cheering, and play pervade the classroom. In short, the games give everyone, teacher included, a chance to play and be playful. In the language classroom, play is useful.
These games are useful in one other important way - they remove you, the teacher, from the spotlight and allow the students to deal with each other, the cards, and the language in front of them. You are there, of course. You get things started and add up the score and serve as the impartial referee, but you can stay out of the way for a while and let the players play. As they play, they are using the target language in meaningful communication.
Throughout the book we have graded our games as easy, moderate, and difficult, but please accept these labels with the understanding that they are not rigid. The more important point is that the games can be enjoyed by students at all levels. After some experience you will develop a good sense for what your class can and can't do.
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