The Auction (by Marco Brazil)

It is normally a public sale at which items are sold to the person offering to pay the highest price.

However, this reinvention of auction for EFL classrooms doesn’t have any items up for sale; it doesn’t have any currencies or toy money involved. What is negotiated in this game is vocabulary (target language), and the means of exchange are number cards (from a deck of playing cards). The aim of the game is to put up the highest number (playing card) possible. This is “a winner takes it all game,” meaning, the player to put up the highest number card takes all the other cards.



Four (4) or more


Target Language

(Teacher’s discretion)

In this video:

Class:  What do you have?

Player: I have (some paper).

Also good for practicing


Class: What does (he) do?

Player: He is (a doctor).


Verbs (present continuous)

Class: What are you doing?

Player: I am (reading a book).



Class: Where are you going?

Player: I am going to (the park)



picture cards

number cards (from a deck of playing cards)

How to play

1. Determine the order of play.

2. Shuffle one deck of playing cards (minus kings, queens, jacks, jokers, and aces), make two piles, and place them face down on the playing surface.

3. Place a picture card (vocabulary) between the piles of number cards. For example, if the picture card is ribbon, then the class asks the question: “What do you have?”

4. The first player answers, “I have (some ribbon)”. He then takes a number card from the pile; places the card in-front of him, but keeps it face down.

5. The second player takes his turn. The class asks the question again: “What do you have?” The second player answers: “I have (some ribbon).” He then takes a number card from the pile, places the card in-front of him, but keeps it face down. The third player takes his turn and does the same.

6. When all players have had their turns, the teacher calls: “Cards face up please!” or “Turn over your cards please!”

7. Players turn over their cards at the same time. The player with the highest number takes all the other number cards. If there’s a draw (two players with the same number), the two players are ask to take another card from the pile or do rock-scissors-paper, and the winner takes all the other cards. The game continues until there are no more number cards to turn over.

The winner is the player with the most number cards.

Note: This article by Marco A. Brazil originally appeared on Teaching Village, and is licensed under a Creative Commons, Attribution-Non Commercial, No Derivatives 3.0 License. If you wish to share it you must re-publish it “as is”, and retain any credits, acknowledgements, and hyperlinks within it.




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3 Responses

  1. Barbara says:

    This is turning into a nice collection of games, Marco! I like this one because it will help my young students practice numbers, too–not just how to say them in English, but math concepts of larger and smaller values. A winner!

  2. Marco Brazil says:

    Once a teacher a student forever! Thank you Teaching Villlage.

  1. September 29, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shelly S Terrell, Barbara Sakamoto, ozge karaoglu, Priscilla Santos, Willy C Cardoso and others. Willy C Cardoso said: RT @ShellTerrell: The Auction (by Marco Brazil) via @barbsaka […]