EFL Foundational Grammar Decks are simple, fun, and adaptable. This multi-player card game motivates English as a foreign language (EFL) students to generate meaningful language as they recognize and practice grammar patterns to combat native language (L1) influence.
Need for the Game
The linguist Stephen Krashen writes, “First language influence seems to be strongest in ‘acquisition poor’ environments, where natural appropriate intake is scarce” (Krashen, 2002). Over my 12 year career as an EFL teacher, I have observed positive results from a two pronged approach to overcome the challenges facing EFL students: increasing comprehensible input combined with conscious practice of sentence structure to counter L1 influence.
While there are wonderful resources, like leveled readers, movies, and music, available for increasing comprehensible input, practicing sentence structure often requires something more tailored. Any teacher can create written exercises that target language in a very controlled way, but such fill in the blank activities are rarely interesting for students. Grammar apps, though dynamic, cannot always be tailored to fit a class’s content needs and few teachers have the skills or time to make their own. Card and board games, or table games, on the other hand, are just as dynamic and can often be adapted to fit the content needs of the teacher. Furthermore, both written work and apps don’t often have embedded elements for social interaction and it is crucial in the EFL classroom to maximize time for interaction in order to generate language. Card and board games have great potential to provide structured sentence practice in an interactive and entertaining way for minimal cost.
Serious Goals and Target Audience
EFL Foundational Grammar Decks meet the serious goals of having students actively engage with English syntax, improve accuracy, motivate peer correction, combat Mandarin L1 influence, and build passive vocabulary. The mechanic of the game can be applied to any number of sentence patterns and grammar points, but the first prototype was designed for Taiwanese EFL students in their second year of EFL study, when they have basic reading skills but are still building their grammar foundation. The game is appropriate for both girls and boys from 1st through 4th grade. These grammar decks are designed for in-class play in small groups, but are also ideal for private lessons or self study with friends.
Succinct Gameplay Summary
For keeping the pace of the game and maintaining a variety of playable cards, a group of 3-4 players is ideal. An average game lasts between 8-13 minutes.
- Deal 7 cards to each player.
- Put the remaining deck in the middle.
- Player #1 can play any card to begin. Player #2 must play one card that builds on the card played before with the goal of making a complete sentence.
- If you can’t play on the cards shown, draw one from the deck.
- The player who completes the sentence,…
- discards the sentence…
- then plays another card to start a new sentence.
- The first player with zero cards wins.
Krashen, Stephen. (2002). Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning. Retrieved from: http://www.sdkrashen.com/content/books/sl_acquisition_and_learning.pdf