The Wonders of UNO

Erin Capina, 127

unoPicture this: you arrive home, put away the things that you’ve been dragging around all day, think about what you plan on doing to unwind, and turn around to discover a group of neighborhood children huddled around your front door looking at you expectantly. Now what? You grab the small brightly colored box off the shelf and are met with smiles when you show it to the neighborhood kids. What just saved the day? Why, the game of UNO of course. This popular and easy-to-pack game has been finding new fans all over the world thanks to PCVs. UNO has several characteristics that make it a perfect game for kids, teenagers, fellow Volunteers, or really anyone.

Simple instructions

At the heart of it UNO is a matching game, and matching games are pretty easy to pantomime without a common language or strong foreign-language skills. You can easily convey the goal of the game by demonstrating what to do. Soon the kids will become proficient enough that you won’t even need to play to make sure that the game stays on track.

Instant English teaching tool

So you’re not an English teacher and have no desire to teach English – yet there’s a growing demand for you, the American Volunteer, to teach the kids some English. What to do? Do you want to fulfill this community wish without actually setting up proper English classes or English tutoring? Playing games is a possible solution and UNO should definitely be included on your inventory of English teaching games. UNO uses the numbers zero through nine as well as special cards; all of the cards are red, yellow, green or blue. This simple design lends itself quite well to practicing English. Colors and numbers are easy enough to teach, and you might be re-enforcing what they are currently learning in school. UNO only has five special cards (skip, reverse, draw two, draw four, and wild), so you won’t be overwhelming kids with a lot of new English words. By having them say in English the type and color of each card they play at the beginning of their turn, you fulfill the request to teach them English without being in a classroom setting.


It’s addicting

When you introduce UNO you will find that it’s a great way to pass time, in fact you can easily find yourself playing multiple rounds in one sitting. UNO can become the most requested game when kids show up at your front door, or when you have extra time during a class that you’re teaching. Kids might start showing up at your house, not to see you or hang out with you, but to play UNO since they don’t have UNO at their own homes. Don’t feel bad, they probably enjoy your company a lot, but even you can’t compete with UNO. It’s okay – your UNO deck will go to a good home after COS.


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