Free English Lessons

Playing Cards – Listening Lesson (A1-A2)

Do you enjoy playing cards with your friends? Can you name the cards and describe the rules of a card game in English? Learn some of these words and practise your listening in this free English lesson from Oxford Online English. This lesson is for elementary learners.

Some of the vocabulary in this lesson is not very common – it’s very specific to card games, so you won’t hear these words every day. However, these exercises are designed to help improve your listening. Use the vocabulary notes if you need to, but try the exercises first!

Listen to the dialogue at normal speed here:

or listen to a slower version here:

Man: So, how do you play again?
Woman: You have seven cards. Everybody plays in turn1, and the highest card wins.
Man: And are aces high or low2?
Woman: High.
Man: Can I play any suit3?
Woman: No, of course not! You have to follow suit4!
Man: So then, if someone plays hearts, and I don’t have any hearts…
Woman: You can play anything. You can play a trump5, if you have one.
Man: I see. So I should try to win as many tricks6 as possible?
Woman: Yes, but don’t play all your winners straight away. You need to watch what other people are doing, too.
Man: Okay, let’s give it a go7!

1. Everybody plays in turn = everybody plays one after another
2. Aces are the card with one thing on. Sometimes aces can be low, meaning they are the worst card. Aces can also be high, meaning they are better than any other card.
3. There are four suits in a normal pack of cards: hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades.
4. Follow suit = play the same suit that the first person played
5. Trump = a suit that beats everything else. For example, if clubs are trumps, and I play a trump, then I win, even if my card is lower.
6. Trick = a card game consists of several tricks. In a trick, each person plays one card, and the highest card is (usually) the winner.
7. Let’s give it a go = let’s try

Playing Cards – exercise 1
Vocabulary: names of playing cards

Before you listen to the dialogue, let’s review numbers and the names of cards.

On playing cards in English, there are four suits – they’re called hearts, diamonds, spades and clubs. The numbers are called ace, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, jack, queen and king.

Playing Cards – exercise 2
Listening skill: identifying the word you hear

Now let’s listen to parts of the dialogue. You might not know the meaning of some words, but you’re going to practise recognising what words you hear.

Listen to five sentences and choose the missing word. The four options sound very similar, but which one does the speaker say?

Playing Cards – exercise 3
Grammar: present simple and imperative forms

The woman is explaining to the man how to play a game, so all the verbs are in present forms. She gives her instructions in the present simple and the imperative. Do you know how to form them?

Listen to five sentences from the recording and write the missing word. Remember to use apostrophes when necessary!

Playing Cards – exercise 4
Comprehension: following the conversation

You have studied some of the language in the dialogue, so now it’s time to test how well you understand what they are talking about.

Listen to the full dialogue again and put five things in the order that you hear them.

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