Domino Reading Relay- ESL Game

The Domino Reading Relay is another favorite game among my co-teachers. Each student gets to practice the key expression in front of the class, and everyone focuses like they can’t take their eyes off of some falling dominoes. Here’s how to play.


Why it’s called the Domino Reading Relay: Each student has to stand up when they read their card, and sit down when they read it the second time. Which means that everyone will be standing at the midpoint, but everyone should be sitting at the beginning and end. Since students try to read it as fast as possible, and go one at a time, it looks  like falling domino tiles.

Goal of the game: Each student is responsible for reading their card out loud quickly and accurately. Students must listen carefully to know when their turn is. Students compete to become the fastest group at reading English sentences.


  • PPT to review the target sentences
  • Demonstration Cards (5 pairs of sentences on a bigger card that is legible from the back of the room)
  • Domino Reading Cards for each student in the class
  • Stopwatch

How to make the Domino Reading Cards:

  • There should be at least one card for each student.
  • Each card should have a question and an answer, but they shouldn’t match.
  • All of the cards are connected in a loop with the question and answer.
  • The questions and answers should be a mix of material related to the textbook, and something that makes the students chuckle.
  • Laminate the cards if you want to use these cards multiple times. They will be destroyed rather quickly if it’s just paper.

Each row is one card.

The answer is on the left and the question is on the right.

drr1 drr2 drr3

Example of how the game starts with these cards:
Teacher: “How do you say apple in Korean?” Student #1: “It’s sa-gwa. How do you say pi-bu-trouble in English?” Student #2: “We say acne. Can you tell me about han-bok?” Student #3: “Yes, it’s a Korean dress. How do you say hello in Korean?”….


  • The best part of this game is that students don’t need external rewards to do better at this game. Just knowing that they are faster than others or faster than before becomes a great source of motivation.


  1. Motivate the students by asking them if they can show that they’re better at English than other groups.
  2. Review the key sentences. Show that all the cards are connected to each other in a loop.
  3. Ask for volunteers and show a demonstration with 5 cards in a loop. Students will crouch in a line, stand up when they first read their card, and crouch again on the second turn.
  4. Randomly distribute the cards. Emphasize that the students have to help each other understand their cards in order to let the group win.
  5. Give the students some time to practice reading their cards.
  6. Let the students know that they will get two chances to get the best time. Start the game by choosing one random question from one of the cards. The student with the answer to that question starts the game. Start the stopwatch when the first student starts reading the card.
  7. Students must stand up and read their card when a question that matches their answer is read. After they read the answer portion, they immediately read the question portion, which makes another student stand up to read.
  8. When students read the card on the first turn, they stand up. They must remain standing until they read their card again on their second turn. They sit down after they read their card on the second turn.
  9. Stop the stopwatch when the last student sits down. On the first trial, help the students understand the game. The first trial will usually take around 5 minutes for around 25 students. On the second trial, students will become faster and finish at around 3 minutes.

What I noticed from playing the game:

  • Students who usually didn’t want to speak up were forced to participate by pressure from their classmates. Although I say “forced” here, I think it was more like they felt a “need” to participate in order to help the class as a whole.
  • This motivates higher level students to help their classmates understand the meaning and accurately pronounce English sentences.
  • Students were just teaching each other. There was almost no need for a teacher.
  • It is good to remind the students at the beginning that they shouldn’t blame slower-learners. Students should help them get ready for the game as a team.


This is a great game that lets the whole class participate. I hope I explained it throughly, but if I didn’t please leave questions in the comment!


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