Putting a Spin on an Old Card Game to Gain Useful Vocabulary Practice

Who says games are for kids? Vocabulary practice can be fun for everyone at all levels. Consider the many benefits of the following activity.


Activity: Go Fish

Level: Low intermediate to advanced

Materials needed: 8.5×11 blank paper (two sheets per student), scissors, writing utensils

STEP 1 – Hand each student two blank sheets of paper. Have them fold each sheet in half lengthwise. List 10 vocabulary words on one sheet, putting half in the left column and half in the right column with wide spacing. Cut out the words to make 10 vocabulary cards.  Use the same 10 vocabulary words and repeat the procedure with the second sheet. (The benefit of this step is that it reinforces spelling.)

STEP 2 – Place students in groups of 3 or 4. Students should place all their vocabulary cards in a central pile, facedown. Mix the cards thoroughly.

STEP 3 – Teach the students the rules of the game. Each student should initially draw 5 cards. They should find pairs of the same word (example: goal and goal) and place them off to the side. The objective of the game is to make as many pairs possible. Next, taking turns clockwise, one student asks any other student for XYZ. That other student must either hand over the card XYZ or, if not in possession of XYZ, say: “Go fish.” Fishing means drawing from the central pile. If card XYZ is found in that single draw, the student forms a pair and may have another turn. If card XYZ is not found, the student’s turn is over. However a pair is made, the student should place the pair of cards to the side and as s/he does so state the definition of the word XYZ. (The Q&A process reinforces pronunciation and the pair-making process confirms students’ understanding of the word. Others in the group can correct if necessary.)

STEP 4 – The game ends when one player runs out of cards. The winner is the student with the most pairs. After the winner is declared, the other players should place their remaining cards on the table face-up. Duplicate words can be tossed into the central pile. Working as a whole team, the students must make sentences with all the remaining words.  The winner can be the recorder: all sentences should be written on paper for the teacher to correct. (This final step tests students’ ability to use the words meaningfully and accurately.)


One Comment Add yours

  1. Isabel says:

    Hello Jennifer,
    I have been reading some of your articles here in your blog, they are very interesting and helpfull like your English classes in Youtube, thanks a lot for all your effort in doing and sharing such a wonderful job.
    Have a lovely day,

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