Practising key phrases #3: phrase cards for heads-down revision


Here are some heads-down revision activities for functional phrases that use prepared cards. You can laminate the cards for re-use and long life.

Activity 1 (monolingual groups only)

Prepare cards with a key phrase on one side, and its translation in the L1 (mother tongue) on the back. Put the students into groups of three and give each group a set of cards. To begin they can take as long as they want looking at both sides of the cards, memorizing whatever they are able to.

Then the game starts with all the cards L1 side up. Student A points at a card and tries to say its English equivalent. They turn the card over, and if it is exactly correct then they take it and win a point. If incorrect, they leave the card showing – English side up – and it is out of the game until the next round (otherwise it’s too easy for the next student to choose the same phrase and get it right). Continue round the group until all the cards are taken.

Activity 2: ‘Memory’ (monolingual or multilingual)

This is the well-known children’s game. Prepare cards with one key phrase per card, but make pairs of cards so that there are two phrases for each function (eg two phrases for agreeing, two for disagreeing, two for interrupting etc). Put the students into groups of three and give each group a set of cards. The game starts with all the cards blank side up, and the aim of the game is to find matching pairs (same function). Student A turns over two cards, hoping to find two matching phrases. If they do, they keep the cards and win a point. If they don’t, they replace the cards blank side up. Continue round the group until all the cards are taken.

I find with this game that I have to write the functions on the board first, as otherwise it is too abstract – the students don’t know if phrases belong to the same function or not (is it interrupting or disagreeing? polite or strong disagreement? etc.)

Activity 3 (higher levels)

If the phrases on your cards fall nicely into clear functional categories, then the students can try to group them according to function (without you reminding them what the function headings were in the coursebook that they came from).

To play the game, take a set of cards for each small group of students and scatter them randomly on the table in front of the group. Remind the students that when they first saw these phrases they were in a list with headings (functions). Ask them to group the phrases according to function, and having done this to suggest/remember a name for each function.

One Comment


Hi Paul
Think all of the ‘practising key phrases activities’ under ‘LEXIS’ are great.
Thank you for all your wonderful books – always packed with helpful ideas.

Best wishes

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