Big Town is a small little town settled somewhere between here and there. This is a fun conversation game for role plays, speech acts, dialogues, ice-breakers and other communicative activities. There are over 80 residents in Big Town and even some that you would not likely expect. The cards come in English French and Spanish versions. They contain a picture and all sorts of information: name, age, birthday, height, weight, number of family members nationality, occupation, place of work, evening schedule, hobbies/interests, and a few of their favorite things. There are adults, children, aliens, warriors, princesses, and more, all the ingredients for a very vibrant town.

How to play the game:

It is a simple take the card from your friend game. Basic flow is as follows:

1. Students assume the personality (they become the person on the card.)

2. They introduce themselves to their partner.

A: Hi, my name is Tom Armstrong. What's your name?

B: My name is Pam Anders. It's nice to meet you, Tom.

A: Nice to meet you, too, Pam.

3. Then, they attempt to win the other student's card.

One way is to in turns ask a yes/no question and try to guess their partner's information (get country flash cards here.)

A: Are you from Japan?

B: No, I'm not. Are you from Canada?

A: Yes, I am.

In this case A loses and gives his card to B. Then, they break away and go find another partner and play again. As for order you can play rock paper scissors to decide who goes first or bring out their aggressiveness and tell them whoever asks first, goes first.

Another way to play is highest number wins. After steps 1 and 2 above, the students play rock paper scissors and the winner decides the question, for example:

How old are you? / How tall are you?

How much do you weigh? (but do tell them this a question we don't usually ask)

How many people are there in your family?

When is your birthday? (whoever was born latest in the year wins)

A: How old are you?

B: I'm 26. How old are you?

A: I'm 25.

In this case A loses and gives his card to B. Then, they break away and go find another partner and play again.

The 2nd step can be lengthen to include some questions you want the students to practice, for example have them also ask:

What do you do?

Where do you work/go to school? Where is that?

What's your favorite color?

What do you do on Saturday evenings?

What do you like to do?

Where are you from?

When's your birthday?

What are you going to do this weekend?

What did you do last Sunday?

A: Hi, my name is Tom Armstrong. What's your name?

B:My name is Pam Anders. It's nice to meet you, Tom.

A:Nice to meet you, too, Pam.

B:So, what do you do, Tom?

A:I'm a businessman. And you?

B:I'm an actress.

The 1st step can be changed and the students can take the personalities as the friend to practice the third person singular.

A:Hi, Mark. This is my friend, Tom.

B:Hi, (real name.) This is my friend, Pam.

A:Where is Pam from?

B:She's from England. Where is Tom from?

A: He's from Canada.

Rock Paper Scissors (A wins)

A: Does she play tennis on Mondays?

B: No, she doesn't. Does he go to the mall on Saturdays?

A: No he doesn't. Does she watch movies on Tuesdays?

B: Yes, she does.

In this case B loses and gives his card to A. Then, they break away and go find another partner and play again.

The cards:

The first set for each version contains 3 teacher's cards with explanations about the cards, each section, and games that can be played with the cards.

The cards are spread over 7 documents for size problems on my end. The files are designed to be printed on B5 size paper, then cut out, folded over and laminated. (They can be printed on larger paper and then trimmed if necessary.) They should fit like a glove in picture L size laminating film (95x135mm.) The old print, cut and paste method should also work fine for you. If you print directly onto card and need the pictures set differently (not side by side,) let me know and I'll see what I can do.

The schedule:

The schedule is made up of 7 activities: study, read, clean, work, go to... , play ... , watch ... There is a squiggle after the last 3 to remind students to put something after. There are children in Big Town and they do not work. On the children's cards work has been replaced with do homework.If you feel that that is confusing, simply take out the children cards first time around.

The schedule can be used to practice past tense, present tense and future tenses, depending on the teacher.

Did you play tennis last Monday? What did you do last Monday?

Do you read books on Wednesdays? What do you do on Wednesdays?

Are you going to go to China on Saturday? What are you going to do this Friday?

Hobbies/Interests: movies, skiing, golf, baseball, computers, reading, tennis, hiking, walking, running, swimming, cooking, video games, shopping, music, art, English, playing, dodge-ball

Favorite Foods: hamburgers, hotdogs, pizza, steak, French fries, sushi, ramen, tempura, spaghetti, chicken, fish, sandwiches, eggs, sausage, cheese, carrots

Favorite Desserts: cake, ice cream, apple pie, fruit, parfait, cookies, chocolate, pudding, muffins, doughnuts, Japanese sweets

Big Town Map:

There are maps to Big Town containing both large (whole town) and small (central district.) Almost every place of business is located on the map and a couple are left out. These can be added in by the teacher, by the class, whatever. The maps can be used to practice giving directions or explaining location within step 2 of the game. 'Where do you work/go to school? Where is that?' answer - "It's on 14th street." "It's near Big Town Builders." "It's across from/on the corner of/between/next to/ a stones throw away from/etc."

If you plot a place of origin and give maps to all, "How do I get there?" "Could you tell me the way to ~?"

Other uses:

The cards can be used to create stories. Give a group of students 10 random cards and a copy of the maps. Have the students, as a group, describe a single day in the past and how all 10 personalities interact/tie together (the Pulp Fiction game.)Then present it for the class.

Can- Although I admit it's a bit abstract, using the hobbies/interests section, you can practice Can you ~? Can he/she ~? This is something you can do with older students (upper elementary through adults) as they can make the connection.

The cards can be used in role plays. If you are tired of introducing yourself to the class, asking the same questions and always getting the same response, just pass out the cards and have everyone assume the personalities. Suddenly they'll have different answers.

If your role play today is in a department store, give out the cards and let the students try on their acting shoes as they try to be both the sales clerk and a vampire or a customer and a princess.

I'm sure once you've got the cards in your hands you'll find other uses for them.

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