The Tarot Cards ESL Speaking Activity is useful for practicing various verb tenses. Students select random cards from a traditional deck of playing cards and predict what will happen to their classmates.
Student Level: Intermediate, Advanced
Tarot Cards ESL Activity Preparation:
Bring a deck of regular playing cards to use for the activity. Print out the meanings of the tarot cards associated with each traditional playing card. View the meanings outlined in the activity guidelines on this page.
In this example, we will focus on one suit (13 spades plus an optional Joker card). If you have time, you can create lists for all four suits by searching for “Minor Arcana” online to find the card meanings.
Alternatively, you could always buy real tarot cards online and use them in your classes too.
Tarot Cards ESL Activity Guidelines:
On the board, write out what each card represents. The list below outlines the “Minor Arcana” suit cards for “swords” (or spades) that professional tarot card readers use.
|Ace||The Reaver||decisiveness, clarity|
|2||The Choice||doubt, powerlessness|
|3||The Wound||self-criticism, sorrow|
|4||The Effigy||avoidance, surrender|
|5||The Traitor||betrayal, alienation|
|6||The Boatman||journey, responsibility|
|7||The Thief||sacrifice, manipulation|
|8||The Prisoner||oppression, captivity|
|9||The Nightmare||anxiety, fear|
|10||The Corpse||closure, inevitability|
|Joker (Page)||The Spy||curiosity, concealment|
|Jack (Knight)||The Berserker||impulsive, impatient|
|Queen||The Warlord||intellect, authority|
After outlining the cards and their symbolism, select a student from the class to demonstrate the activity with you. The teacher plays the role of the tarot card reader.
Shuffle the 14 cards and ask the student if they would like to know more about their past, present, or future. In this situation, perhaps they choose to know more about their future.
Tell them to pick a card and place it facing up on the desk.
Let’s say that it is the 9 of spades (which is the 9 of swords). Tell the student the meaning of the card and that it symbolizes “The Nightmare.”
Read the meanings associated with the card and give the student a prediction about their future.
For example, you could say, “You will feel anxious about something.”
Follow up with a question, such as, “Is there anything that you are worried about in the future?”
The student may respond that they have an exam next week that they are worried about. If time permits, ask the student to take another card and do another reading.
To begin the student tasks, divide the class into small groups. Give each group one suit of cards.
One student in each group starts as the tarot card reader. After they read everyone’s tarot, the students should change roles. Make sure that everyone gets the chance to play the role of the tarot card reader.
Monitor their progress as they talk about their classmates’ past, present, and future.
Make note of any grammatical errors throughout the activity. Save some time at the end to correct the most repetitive mistakes together as a class.
Remember to simplify the speaking task if the students are at a lower level of proficiency. For instance, focus on using one verb tense only. Encourage them to practice the same structure repeatedly to gain confidence, improve accuracy, and solidify understanding.
Follow-Up ESL Activities:
If you have time at the end of class, try playing a game to review future tenses or the vocabulary covered in previous exercises. Try the 4 Corners ESL Speaking Activity to review future tenses. Also, you could encourage students to compare their answers in the previous activity with the Comparatives ESL Vocabulary Game.
More ESL Speaking Activities for Kids and Adults:
- Best Friends Challenge
- Would Your Rather
- Shopping Spree
- Job Interview
- Find Someone Who
- Two Truths and a Lie
- Cup Pong
- Movie Idioms
- Funny or Die
- Movie Predictions
- Chopstick Topics
- Movie Trailers
- 4 Corners
View the ESL speaking activities archive.
Related ESL Resources Online:
ESL Tarot Classes on esladventure.com