Getting EFL Students Fluent at AGO QnA Aqua within One Year

Elementary aged students learning English once a week in an eikaiwa setting can become “fluent” at asking and answering all of the questions in AGO Q&A Aqua by the end of their first year of study! This is a good benchmark and a challenge students enjoy taking part in!

“Fluent” means that students have picked up all the game vocabulary and internalized all the question structures, so they can ask and answer them without refering to the cards. They will also be able to apply the grammar rules in different contexts and do all of this naturally and effortlessly!

Several elements need to come together over the course of the year to achieve this result. As well as good classroom management and teaching technique, building up the reading and writing skills required is key – so besides playing a game of AGO for 10 minutes at the beginning or end of lessons, phonics study, readers and a suitable workbook are also key components.

This article gives more detailed pointers on how to achieve this result (or even better it) in your classroom: AGO-QnA-in-one-year-classroom-guide

Useful Game Phrases Printable: Encouraging students to ask Follow Up Questions and Expand Conversations in AGO QnA Games:

AGO QnA games allow ESL / EFL students the opportunity to learn vocab and grammar conversationally – through asking and responding to questions. Ideally though, students will continue the dialogue beyond here – learning more about each other and getting valuable practice at using the target language. In reality, it is not always easy to achieve that, often due to vocab grammar and fluency gaps. To make it easier, we have made this printable cheat sheet – a page of useful replies, follow up questions and phrases that elicit a response, and even encourage some friendly banter!

This version is in English to Japanese, but we hope to add other languages over time too! Feel free to give us a nudge about that! 

Click below for a printable PDF link.


AGO Christmas Card Game Free Worksheets!

With Christmas season well and truly upon us, check out these free downloadables to use in your classes or at home when you’re snowed in! These materials are all designed to supplement and reinforce what students will encounter when playing AGO Christmas card game. Hope you like them and wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

Top Tips For Better Educational Results With AGO Cards

  • Aim to play using only English* !  An easy way to implement this is by adding a ‘pick up penalty’ for non English chatter. It can work like magic when done right, and can lead to tears if done wrong! You don’t want to be so strict as to spoil the fun, so maybe give a yellow card warning first up and reinforce this rule over time. Students really enjoy policing it, too once the rule is established! *(or whatever the target language is!)
  • With AGO Phonics, get players to touch the target phoneme on each word (to ensure focus is on the word, not the picture). There is also a “kinesthetic” learning benefit to doing this. Also, players should say the target phoneme last (if they can say the target phoneme correctly in isolation, that is more or less proof that they understand its function (and if they get it wrong, it is easy for the teacher / parent to diagnose and offer corrective feedback). 
  • Customize the decks. Add a few new cards from another level, or remove some easier ones to keep things fresh, and add a learning gap as players make progress.
  • Play a variety of games. Different games have different strengths and weaknesses. For example, “Quiz Show” (for Q&A) doesn’t require students to be able to read (so it is good for introducing new content in a controlled manner), but it is also very teacher centered and individual students don’t get much practice in a large class. “Rock Scissors Paper” is all about speed, so despite its simplicity it is a good activity for developing fluency once students are familiar with the content. In general, teachers and parents are encouraged to get a feeling and understanding for what is happening in the background educationally during a game and make choices based on that.
  • Push ahead! Students can learn the content on AGO games quickly, so don’t hold them back if they are ready to go beyond what’s in the curriculum or lesson plan. Remember, what they encounter in AGO will later be reinforced when it is practiced it other contexts such as text books and lessons later on – and in this case, the fact that the content is already familiar will make it easier to digest. 

Getting Great Results With AGO Card Games!

As a general rule, the goal when using AGO cards is to maximize BOTH educational value and fun. There is an art to that, no matter what game you play! 

AGO cards are essentially tools for presenting educational targets and information in ways that are motivating and interesting to students. Whoever wins a game is not as important as how engaged students are, and the amount and quality of the practice they get during play. 

Choosing The Right Game:

There are lots of ways to use AGO cards and different methods each have their own strengths, weaknesses and draw focus onto different aspects of the content. Factors such as class size, age, ability, amount of time available, familiarity of target content and the personalities of the players are considerations educators need to bear in mind when setting up to play.

Don’t Make It Too Competitive:

While competitive instincts can be harnessed to create an exciting learning environment, it’s important to first of all ensure everyone has fun. Generally, the younger a child is, the less they can handle losing, so with young students, try to minimise the amount of focus placed on the winning, while offering lots of encouragement for good play and good effort. If you are playing too, it’s generally a good idea to ive your students the satisfaction of beating you, and this can also be used to soften the blow of not winning for other students. 

Using Only The Target Language (when using AGO for language acquisition):

When using AGO cards for language learning, ideally students should only communicate in the target language – in practice, this may just be an aspirational goal at the beginning, but it’s certainly something students should work towards. AGO cards don’t contain translations in other languages on them, but especially with beginners or those learning a new language at home via AGO there may be times when access to a translation would certainly make things easier. In this case, we recommend downloading and printing a translation from the website, or otherwise using one of the AGO apps (which have the advantage of modelling pronunciation as well). From 2021, the QnA apps now also offer translations of each card into a number of  languages within the app.

If you’d like more info or ideas on how to get students communicating only in the target language in game, check this article we wrote about the topic: 

Welcome to the AGO EFL / ESL Card Games Blog!

Welcome to the AGO card games blog!

We intend to use this page to post useful things related to AGO card games here!

AGO cards are designed for language learning and developing reading skills. We started off making games for learning English, but now have games in 5 languages, and over time hope to add many more!

AGO games are pretty easy to use right out of the box, but experienced teachers, parents and students also know that there is a lot more that you can get out of the games with just a few little tips, and by mixing in new things to keep it fresh! We intend to make this blog the best place to find those tips.

And if you have a good idea… or have a question / content request that you think others might also find useful, please let us know, and maybe we can add it here, too!

A common question / request that we often get is for new game ideas, so over the next few weeks we will start posting a bunch of ideas for games and classroom management.

Till then, take care and have fun learning languages and reading!