The Good Gift Game

John Syquia, Kwansei Gakuin University

Quick Guide

  • Keywords: Game, discussion, debate
  • Learner English level: Intermediate and above
  • Learner maturity: High school - adult
  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Activity time: 20-45 minutes
  • Materials: Game cards (Gift Cards and Person Cards)

In this fun and accessible speaking game, students use creativity and persuasion to make light-hearted arguments for why unique items would be good gifts. At the beginning, students can easily choose suitable gifts (e.g., a flower vase for a romantic partner). However, as the game continues, they will have fewer gift options and therefore greater difficulty justifying their choices (e.g., a skateboard for an elderly person). This results in many humorous explanations, and plenty of speaking in the target language.



Download, print, and cut out the game cards (see Appendix).



Step 1: Pre-teach expressions for giving opinions, agreeing, and disagreeing, as necessary.

Step 2: Form groups of three to four people.

Step 3: Place a set of Person Cards face down in the center of each group.

Step 4: Give each group a set of Gift Cards, divided so that each student receives an equal number of cards to look at. Set aside one Person Card and some Gift Cards for the next step.

Step 5: Explain that students will play a game about choosing gifts for different people. Model an example with the class by taking a Person Card (e.g., a soldier) and asking for a volunteer to choose a gift idea from their set of Gift Cards. Ask the student to explain why their item is a good gift for that person. Elicit comments from other students about why that item is a good or bad gift. Repeat with another volunteer, if necessary. Use one of your reserved Gift Cards to suggest an unconventional gift, and give an explanation (e.g., “A cactus would be a good gift for a soldier because they could use it for self-defense, and it is easy to carry in a bag.”). Then, ask the class to vote for the best gift.

Step 6: Note to students that they cannot pretend to have secret knowledge to make their items better gifts (e.g., “A bow and arrow would be a good gift for a three-year-old child because this child’s parents did archery in the Olympics.”)

Step 7: Now tell students to play in groups. One student flips over one Person Card, takes a Gift Card from their set, places it on the table, and explains why it’s a good gift for that person. Then, ask the other students to discuss the merits of that item. Encourage students to provide longer answers and disagree politely with each other. After that, have the other students follow the same process.

Step 8: After all students have proposed their gifts and discussed, tell them to vote for the best gift.

Step 9: Tell students who have the best gifts to put that Gift Card into a discard pile.

Step 10: Tell each group to continue doing Steps 7-9. The winner is the first person to discard all their Gift Cards, or who has the fewest cards when time runs out.



After the game is finished, have each group create their own Gift Cards. Collect those cards and distribute them to different groups in a later class to play again.



This activity gets students to make persuasive arguments and disagree in a lively manner. It can be a break from usual classroom activities or as a springboard to more traditional debate topics.



The appendix is available below.