The Jyan Ken Card Game


A cocktail game where students walk around the room, play jyan ken, talk, and win cards

Materials Needed

  • Cards featuring the target vocabulary (enough so you have about 3-5 cards per student)


(The first time I used this game, we were studying professions, so I will use that as an example. The actual vocabulary and dialog can be changed to meet your needs).


Create a deck of cards that features the vocabulary items you wish to focus on. Make enough decks so that there are enough cards that each student can have 3-5 cards each.

In our example, I had a doctor card, a nurse card, a farmer card, a businessman card, etc.


Give each student 2-3 cards. Instruct them not to tell each other what cards they have.

Have the students stand up, walk around the room, and find another student to play with.

When they find a partner, have the students play rock paper scissors. The winner then starts the target dialog. In our example:

“Q: are you a (doctor/nurse/farmer/etc)?”

If the other student has the card asked about he replies “Yes, I am,” and gives the other student the card.

If he doesn't have that card, he answers “No, I don't,” and no cards are exchanged.

Once the students run through the dialog with one partner, they move on to do it again with another partner.

The student with the most cards wins.


This is in many ways just a variation on “the cockroach game,” popularized by Genki English (


You may want to prepare enough cards so that there are some extras. That way, if a student loses all of his cards, he can come to the teacher, and ask for some new ones.

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