Wakatta! A game for practicing vocabulary

Posted by Betsy on October 9, 2015 in InstructionalDesign, Language |

This semester, I am teaching a Japanese course for 4th year students that helps them prepare for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). One of the nice things about the class is that it is very small. However, one of the challenges of teaching a small class is keeping it lively, especially at 9 a.m.! Another challenge of this class is helping students learn a large amount of vocabulary. The following game is a low-prep vocabulary activity that helps students review vocabulary and use it in the context of a creative sentence. Plus, my students were smiling and laughing the whole time. You could use this in any language class.

  1. In advance, prepare cards with each of the vocabulary words or phrases written on them. You could print them out, as I did, using this template, or you could just write on 3 x 5 cards. You could even have students create the cards.
  2. In class, each player draws 4 cards. Make sure that everyone understands their cards. (In my class, there were still some phrases that the students had not learned the meanings and readings of, so we needed to review a bit before beginning to play.)
  3. Turn over 1 card in the center of the table.
  4. Everyone begins to think of a sentence that uses at least one of their cards plus the card on the table.
  5. The first person to think of a sentence says 分かった! (wakatta! = I got it!). They report the sentence to the group, and if everyone agrees that it’s good, they take the 2 (or more) cards as points.
  6. If no one can think of a sentence or the sentence produced is not good, Sensei gets a point.
  7. After someone scores, a new round begins. Each player should draw until they have 4 cards in their hand. Turn over another card on the table.

I’m sure that I’m not the first person to come up with this idea. Please let me know if you’ve played a similar game with your students or if you plan to use this!


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