A Personal Classic: The Listening Game

Ages ago when I first got into teaching English, I had the pleasure of attending a seminar in Seoul by Ritsuko Nakata, one of the co-authors of the Let’s Go series by OUP. There was another great speaker there who was energetic, vibrant, and had lots of great ideas for teaching young kids (but for the life of me, her name escapes me, and truth be told I barely remember most of what happened during that two hour session…). BUT I did get a great game from Ritsuko that has become a favorite for reviewing different questions and answers.

Everybody knows concentration, right? You place a bunch of picture cards on the ground and students take turns turning them over trying to find two identical cards. Been there, done that…. Well Ritsuko turns that game into a listening activity. As such, I quite UN-originally call it “The Listening Game”.

Instead of cards on the ground, you writes numbers on the board, say 1 to 20, like this:

Each number represents either a question or answer. Like normal concentration the questions and answers are all mixed up. It’s important that each question has only one possible answer, otherwise the game turns into a confusing mess.

Now, unless you have a phenomenally exact memory you’ll need to prepare an answer key in advance with the 10 questions and 10 answers you want to review. Like this:

Listening game

For this game there is a picture in the textbook that the children can look at.

On the answer key you can see that the questions are darkened for ease of reading. In each box you’ll see a number followed by a sentence. Whenever somebody calls a number from the board, you read out that sentence. The second number in brackets is the matching question or answer the sentence corresponds to.

Now, how to play the game… I like to divide the class into two or three teams. Then after deciding which side goes first, a student chooses two numbers, say 2 and 10. The teacher, reading from the answer key, says, “2, My name is Jane, 10, I’m 10 years old.”

Nope! Sorry, wrong…

Then the next student takes a turn, and perhaps going through the numbers methodically says 2 and 13. To which the teacher says “2, My name is Jane. 13, What’s your name?”


I don’t much care if they say the number for the question first, or the number for the answer first, but I do force them to say both numbers at the same time.

After somebody says two correct numbers, you cross out those two numbers and give that student, or that student’s team some points. You could give one or two points, roll a dice, or whatever point system you like to use. Personally, for this game I like to give points equivalent to the numbers they chose from the board, so in this case the student or their team would have gotten 15 points (2 + 13 :)). This creates for some wild point swings which gives the game a little excitement.

I let the students take notes while we are playing (otherwise it might take really long, and some kids start to zone out), but for added difficulty you could tell them to just use their heads. Also, while I use this game with questions and answers exclusively, there’s no reason you couldn’t use just single words, or words and their definitions, or even math questions. You don’t have to limit it to 20 either.


2 thoughts on “A Personal Classic: The Listening Game

  1. Pingback: A Personal Classic: The ABC Game | ESL Review

  2. Pingback: A Personal Classic: Point Inflation | ESL Review

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