Speaking Games for Language Learners: Personality Poker

How do you know you are a teacher?

Whenever you read, hear or see something new, you immediately start thinking of how you can tweak it for the classroom.

The other day I came across Personality Poker – a great game designed by Stephen Shapiro to help create high-performing innovation teams inside organizations (read about the concept of the game here). The objective of the game is to get people to think about their personality and see how others perceive them.

We can definitely use the game as is with business English students or upper-intermediate/advanced students (what you will need: you’ll need to purchase card decks for your students),


we might use the concept of the game to turn it into a fun, easy to learn and easy to play game that will combine both self-assessment and practice of personality adjectives for students (what you will need: you’ll need blank cards).

Stage 1.

Preparation for the game.

You may use this stage to introduce new vocabulary –  use a list of adjectives from your coursebook, or work with the vocabulary denoting personality encouraging students to come up with synonyms of the words they already know (demand high). (Here you can find an exhaustive list of positive personality adjectives)


Split students into small teams of 4 -5 students in each. Give each student 5 blank cards to fill in with the following

Option 1: 5 cards – adjectives that best describe how they see themselves. (The goal of the game is to get the hand of their own cards)

Option 2:  4 cards – adjectives they believe describe their personality best, and 1 card – an adjective that best describes one of the players (e.g. a player sitting to their right). (The goal of the game is to get the hand of 4 own cards and a card describing them best).

Once the cards are ready, get your students to think of a unique symbol that they will put on each of their cards – hearts, or diamonds, or spades, or crosses, or flowers, or stars, etc. (NOTE: Ask players not to reveal their cards, including the symbol they have chosen, to other players.)

Stage 2.

Get the cards together and shuffle. Each student gets 5 cards. The aim of the game is to get the hand of one’s own cards.

The players should trade the cards they have – one by one, clockwise – they offer a card to any player if they think that this personality feature describes the chosen player and get a card from the player in exchange if the player accepts the card.

Note: you may model a dialogue before students start playing the game

– Pauline, you appear to be really self-confident

– Well, yes, I am (the player accepts the card)


– Well, not really. I’d say I’m rather shy (the player rejects the card)

The player who gets the hand of own cards first wins.


  • Encourage your students to spill out more information about themselves during the trade to make sure they are offered ‘their cards’ by other players.
  • After the game is over, get the students to talk about themselves in their teams showing the cards they have.

Home assignment:

Ask students to play Personality Poker online –

Happy teaching!

(Image: © Svetlana Kandybovich)

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