Memory Game (Concentration) Activity for Teaching Languages

The Memory Game, also known as the Matching Game or Concentration, is a fun game for reviewing vocabulary and practicing speaking and listening. This page will introduce the  Memory Game and how it can be used in ESL and language learning classes.


The objective of this activity is to review vocabulary, practice speaking and listening, and have fun in the process.


Before playing the memory game, ensure that students are already familiar with the pronunciation and meaning of the vocabulary words.


Flashcards - Prepare 2 sets of flashcards per group.

Note: The front of the flashcards should not be able to be seen when the card is turned over, so be careful when using paper. Printing a pattern on the back can help.


  1. Explain the rules of the game using clear instructions, board drawings, or a demonstration
  2. Divide the class into small groups or pairs
  3. Distribute a set of flashcards to each group or pair
  4. Instruct the groups/pairs to spread out the flashcards face down in the center of their playing area.

How to Play

  1. One student in each group starts (the player), decide who will start using rock, paper, scissors or another means
  2. The player turns over two flashcards and says both vocabulary words aloud.
  3. The other students listen and try to remember the locations of the matching pairs.
  4. If the two cards are the same the student can collect the cards
  5. If the cards are not the same, the player turns the cards face down again.
  6. The next student in the group becomes the reader, and the game continues.
  7. The game ends when all matching pairs have been found.
  8. The group with the most matching pairs wins.


It's common for the student to have another turn when they have found a pair. If there are many cards this is fine, but if there are not many cards it's good to let everyone have the same number of turns.


Students will sometimes mix the cards after each turn. This makes the game take much longer so is best avoided.



Taught English as a Second Language in elementary schools, junior high schools and high Schools in Japan.