Stuart Mill English

How to Learn, How to Teach English

Deck of Cards

Deck of Cards

This is another one-hour conversation activity. For an introduction to the series, click here. Enjoy.

Name: Deck of Cards

Prep Time: None

Materials: A deck of cards

Primary Objective: Review previous themes

Other Benefits: This is a nice combination kinesthetic/visual activity.



Pre-Speaking #1 (10 minutes)

On the board, write four themes that you’ve already discussed in class (For example: Getting to Know You, Travel, The Home, and Clothing).

Write a sample discussion question next to each theme (For example: What’s your favorite subject? Do you like to travel? Do you have a messy room, and Do you have a favorite shirt? Why do you like it?)

Go around the class and ask each question to a couple of students.

Now ask the students to suggest another discussion question for each topic. Write them on the board and ask each question to a couple students.

In the end, your board should look something like this:

Theme 1: Question 1 (from teacher), Question 2 (from student)

Theme 2: Question 1 (from teacher), Question 2 (from student)

Theme 3: Question 1 (from teacher), Question 2 (from student)

Theme 4: Question 1 (from teacher), Question 2 (from student)

Pre-Speaking #2 (10 minutes)

Next, write a suit next to each theme (e.g. a Heart next to Getting to Know You, a Diamond next to Travel, a Club next to The Home, and a Spade next to Clothing)

Now give each student two cards. They should write a discussion questions that match their suits. (e.g. if they have a Diamond and a Club, they’d write questions about Travel and The Home)

For students that finish quickly, give them more cards. Keep passing out extra cards until everyone has written at least two questions and time has passed.

Speaking (30 minutes)

Collect all of the cards from the students.

Have the students stand up and ask their questions to another student.

After they’ve asked and answered most of their questions, yell “find another partner!” They should find a new person and ask that person their questions.

Post-Speaking (10 minutes)

Ask the class for questions from each suit. Then ask random students the questions again as a review.


Give the students two cards again. They should now find someone else with a question on that suit’s theme and write it down. Basically, they’re just copying questions from other students, but in a complicated way.

Repeat the Speaking portion, but with their new questions.

Extension #2

Have a “follow-up” questions contest.

Bring two students to the front of the class. One student should ask one of their questions. The other student should answer.

Now, the first student should ask as many follow-up questions as possible. When they run out of follow-up questions, note how many they asked and have them sit down. Bring another two students to the front and repeat the process. See which student in the class can ask the most follow-up questions.


Ideas for Homework: Have the students write 13 discussion questions on each topic. They should label the questions with suits and numbers. Their best question should be their “ace” question. A “two” question can be silly or stupid.

Modification for Lower Levels: It should be OK, but you may need to put the structure for discussion questions on the board in a more specific manner. So, instead of just putting examples on the board, you could also put up something like “Do you like _____?” “Yes, I like _______.” or “No, I don’t like _________.”

Modification for Higher Levels: None needed. Just make sure they’re asking appropriately open-ended questions as they write them.

Modification for Small Groups: Pass out five or six cards at the beginning. During the Speaking portion, call out a suit and discuss all of that suit’s questions as a group. Then do the next suit. You can still ask the questions again at the end. It’s good repetition.

Modification for Private Lesson: Alternate pulling cards from the deck and asking your student and having them ask you questions. If you pull a face card, you also have to ask three follow-up questions.

Modification for Different Themes: Assign different themes to the different suits.

June 25, 2010 Posted by | Conversation Lesson Plans, Lesson Plans | , , , , | 1 Comment