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Erik's Universal Warning System

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Having refereed soccer (football to the rest of the world) for over 15 years, I have adapted the universal yellow card/red card system, used in international soccer matches by the center referee, in my own ESL classroom. If a student is behaving in an unacceptable manner, I reach into my breast pocket and remove the plastic yellow card I always keep there (as all good referees will do). The student immediately knows that the behavior is unacceptable, and must stop. The yellow card is a warning. A second offense is greeted with a red card, and results in the "player's" immediate removal from the game (and his team must play one player short- imagine the implications in cooperative activities!). In the fifteen + years I have used this system, I have only used the red card once. It is universally understood, as it is used throughout the world, and requires little or no explanation. Now, all I have to do is begin to reach towards my pocket, and the behavior disappears- the student knows I'm making a move towards the yellow card. Sometimes my other students demand a yellow card for an offending "player!"

Erik B. Johansen- Oxnard, Calif.

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