by Shawn Halwas
Playing the Seven Games
This version of Go Fish can be enjoyed by learners of all ages. Although it is most suitable for learners at a low proficiency level, even intermediate and advanced learners can enjoy the game while developing their language skills, especially in the give-and-take of discourse.
To play Go Fish, you need one set of 52 cards (26 pairs of cards/26 words). In this book there are three complete sets of 26 pairs (78 different words). The words in these complete sets can be found on page v, indicated by color. The first set is red, the second blue, the third green. However, you are not limited to these sets. The cards can be mixed and matched to produce a variety of different sets. For example, you can make a set including all the bedroom and bathroom vocabulary. There is also a fourth, short set of 8 nouns (16 cards), listed in black. These can be used as "wild cards" to force the players to distinguish between count and noncount nouns in English (Do you have a chair? vs Do you have any fruit?)
Having three complete sets of cards, allows the class to play Go Fish at least three different times using entirely different cards/words. Or you can have three different groups playing with three different sets at the same time.
Because the game is best played with groups of four players, the three full sets of cards allow at least 12 players to be playing Go Fish at the same time. In classes where there may be more than twelve students, have the students play as teams of two. The pairs, acting as a team, can consult on who and what to ask for.
Go Fish can be played mainly as a vocabulary activity, helping learners practice seeing and saying a few words. However, the game also offers learners an opportunity to practice speaking and listening as they play the game. In fact, this "peripheral" aspect of the game may be more important than the activity of identifying a limited number of lexical items. You can also require the players to use particular grammatical structures while playing the game. For example, a basic exchange in English could be:
These are simple structures, but there are many common variations that could be used. For example:
The students should also be encouraged to ad lib (in the target language, of course) as they play.