TESOL Game: Memory Pairs

Teaching vocabulary TESOL blog    This TESOL game may be referred as Concentration, Memory, Pelmanism, or Pairs. It is usually played with a regular deck of cards. All of the cards are laid out in front of the players and they take turns turning over two cards to try to find a matching pair. Players keep the pairs they correctly identify and the winner is the one with the most matching pairs once all the cards have been matched. The game can be adapted and exploited in innumerable ways for different linguistic purposes. It can also be adapted for different levels with additional instructions; for example, players must pronounce the matching pair correctly or use each word in a sentence in order to be able to show they can use the words appropriately.

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Pairs for Pronunciation Practice

For Beginner pronunciation class, players can find matching phonemes or homophones and rhyming words; for example, bird-word and seat-heat. For intermediate levels and above, players might work on syllable stress patterns in longer words. They might first work on two syllable words and match if the words have stress on the first or second syllable: open-picture, delay- refuse (Read: Teaching Pronunciation Activities)

Pairs for Vocabulary Review or Recycling

This TESOL game can be used for vocabulary practice such as identifying synonyms, antonyms, adjective noun combinations, phrasal verbs, collocations, idioms or matching sentence halves. The game can be adapted to different levels within a class, so they must not only match a pair, but also use the vocabulary in a sentence and with correct pronunciation to show they understand the meaning. Example: (take off) The boy took off his coat when he went inside. The plane took off on time (Read: Teaching Vocabulary Fundamentals).

Pairs For Assorted Grammatical Purposes 

This game works well to review parts of speech or verb forms for Beginners levels; for example, with parts of speech learners might review different types on nouns and need to match common nouns, proper nouns, and abstract nouns: table – eraser, Mr Smith – Australia, information-beauty. For verb forms, Beginners can match base verb forms to simple past forms or have them turn over three cards to try to find base form, simple past and past participle: go -went- gone, try-tried-tried, see-saw-seen. They might also review how the verb ‘be’ conjugates; for example, they must match according to subject verb agreement and the cards could be divided with a subject on one side and the verb form on the other side they must match: John – is playing, They – were at school. For intermediate levels, learners might have to match a verb with either a gerund or infinitive: He likes – playing football/to play football. Sally needs – to go home (Read: Teaching Grammar with the Communicative Approach).

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