Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"Card Talkers" {Of Playing Cards and Conversations}

I have been using an activity that I named "Card Talkers" with my students to get them to ask and answer questions in Spanish. The activity also doubles as a cultural lesson because you can teach your students about how the deck of cards are different in Spanish-speaking countries.  In order to do this activity you need a set (or several sets for a classroom) of Spanish Playing Cards {La Baraja}. La Baraja is the name of the deck used in Spanish-speaking countries.  It is smaller than the English version containing only forty cards in all.  It also has different suits: oros (coins), bastos (clubs), espadas (swords), and copas (cups).  Traditionally, each of the suits represented a different part of medieval society.  The oros were merchants. The bastos were the peasants.  The espadas were the military, and the copas represented the Church.

The face cards are also different.  There is the sota (like our Jack), the caballo (horse/knight), and the rey (king).  Interestingly, there are no cards with the numbers eight and nine on them.

Once you have the cards, you can print out the files below.  The first page is more basic while the second page is for advanced students.  To use the cards and the questions, just shuffle the cards and put them face down in the middle of the group (no more than five students).  One student picks up a card and finds the appropriate question based on the suit and number of the card.  He or she then asks the person next to them the question.  That student answers and then picks up a card to ask the next student and so on and so forth.  I find that this activity works well at the beginning or end of a lesson.  It doesn't take a lot of set-up especially if you have the decks on hand.  I have laminated my question sheets so that they can be used again and again.  All you have to do is pull the materials out and get your students talking!

You can download the Basic Card Talkers here.

You can download the Advanced Card Talkers here.


  1. Wow, what a great idea and activity for my students! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hello Debbie, I like your idea! Thanks for sharing. My Spanish teacher showed us another use of these cards and we also had a great fun. I attach the rules for el reloj. Enjoy!!

  3. What are your group sizes like? How many decks do you have? I have 35 students in each class (#Utah) and about 5 decks of cards. Maybe I can split them up.

  4. Michelle- I have smaller groups that I teach. I would think that if you split them up into groups of about five it would work. But it looks like you have only five decks so try groups of seven and see how it goes. I would do kind of a round robin set-up....the first student picks a card and ask the question to the student next to him/her. Then the student that just answered would pick a card and ask the next person. Going around the small circle would give some order to it.