A Great Card Game That Will Help Teach Japanese Kids English

  • HOW TO
  • If you are living and working in Japan (or plan to), there is a very good chance that you are teaching English. I have been teaching English here for the better part of a decade. I have taught every level and type of student. Teaching children are particularly enjoyable. My favorite age group is 8-12-year-olds and there is one card game that they always love to play that helps them to be more fluent in English. It’s called AGO.

    What is AGO

    AGO is a card game that teaches students English phrases, vocabulary, and pronunciation as they play a fun game. Each card has either an English sound, phrase, or question, that the next person has to read, pronounce, or answer. The game is very simple, fun to play, and works with any level of student who has some very basic reading skills.

    How to Play AGO

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    This is a fun game for practicing English. It’s called “AGO” and it’s similar to UNO. A friend got me the set for my birthday so I could use it with students. So far I’ve played it about 5 times with students at my current school. The special needs teachers liked it so much that they’re ordering their own sets of cards! I wish I’d had the cards at my first school… I really liked some of the students there and want to play the game with them. Note: I guess the makers of the game wanted it to be pronounced “āgo” so it sounds like “eigo”, which means “English” in Japanese, but everyone (including me) automatically says “ah-go”, which is the word for “chin” in Japanese, haha! #AGOcardgame #AGOcards #AGOcard

    Ramone Romeroさん(@ramone.romero)がシェアした投稿 –

    The goal of the game is for each player to be the first to discard all the cards in their hand.

    Begin by dealing 5 or 7 cards to each player (depending on the number of students you have and how long you want the game to last for). Put the remainder of the deck on the table, this is the draw pile. Take the top card and turn it over (if you get a change color card, put it back into the middle of the deck, and take the next card), this is now the discard pile.

    Choose who will go first (either the teacher can choose, or you can play a quick rock, paper, scissors game) and go clockwise. The student can now discard any of the cards in their hand if it is either the same color or the same number as the card on top of the discard pile.

    For example, if the card on the top of the discard pile is an orange 8, the student can discard either an 8 of any color or any orange color card.

    Students can also make combos, by discarding multiple cards of the same color or type. For example, the student can discard multiple 8 cards, or jump cards in one turn.

    If the student has no card they can play, they have to take one card from the draw pile, and then it is the next student’s turn.

    Once a student discards a card, the next player in line has to either read the words on the card if you are playing the Phonics Series, or if you are playing the Question and Answer Series, the student who discarded the card has to ask the question to the next player, who must answer. Keep playing until someone discards all of their cards.


    If you are teaching English in Japan and need another game or activity to fill out your class time, then AGO is a great game to play with your students. You can find it in many book stores, on Amazon, or on AGO’s webpage.

    AGO Card Game Website

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