Activities for Language Learning

This page will share with you some great activities to enhance students’ understanding of vocab, grammar, Kanji and even culture.

The ideas are from teachers from all over Australia and will be added to as more ideas are shared. Thank you to the contributing teachers from this page.

The question asked by the teacher was to “create a list of ‘go to’ activities that can be adapted to fit all topics and units. I’m thinking things like karuta, bingo, speed tests etc. Would be very appreciative if you can liKaboomst your favourites”.

  • Kaboom is my current favourite revision activity. Students play in pairs or threes. They take it in turns to pull a pop stick out of a plastic cup (with hiragana, kanji, vocab etc written on the bottom end of it) and if they can answer it correctly they keep the pop stick. The aim of the game is to get as many pop sticks as you can to beat your opponent. There should also be a few pop sticks in the cup that have Kaboom (or similar) written on it and when a student picks out that pop stick then they lose all their pop sticks, having to start all again. Kids love it!
  • I’ve adapted Kaboom so that I can use the same set of sticks over and over again. I labelled the sticks from 1 -40, and put in 5-10 kaboom sticks too. I made about 6 sets. I type up the English and target language answers on a double sided A4 sheet, numbered 1 -40. One student is the leader and they read out either the English or the Target Language (depending on teacher preference) that corresponds to the number on the stick that had been pulled out. I have made different sets of vocab sheets and laminated them. I print the sets in a colour so it’s easy to differentiate them. I also have the rules on the bottom of the page on case students forget.
  • A couple of my go to activities would be: Round the world (using hiragana or other visual flashcards to practise vocab or Q/A) and the other one that comes to mind quickly does not really have a name, essentially it is a Q/A relay or simply going through the sentence pattern that is the focus, but after the first practice, we start timing it, as i find generally the students are very competive. and classes in the same year level, complete with each other. some eg’s might be: say the months from Jan to Dec in Japanese, or count people from 1 to 12 or 15 or whatever it the upper number in Japanese, or i guess when I am using Q/A, i call it a Q/A relay eg: What sport do you like – I like … sport
  • Another one would be using 2 fly swats, although I went up market during the holidays recently, and went to EDSCO, and bought a pack of 3 long pointers. simply put the flashcards up on the board, hiragana or vocab, and two students love to compete. and I always let a student keep score. They also would love to use my maru/batsu toy from Tokyu Hands, but I still have that role at present.
  • Bingo, karuta and battleships. I also play a game I call elimination game. The whole class stands and I pick a pair of students near each other. I then call out a word from a group of vocabulary we have been learning. You can call out in English but if this is too hard teacher calls out Japanese. The first person from the pair to answer correctly wins. The loser sits down. I continue around the class until everyone has had a go. You then have half the class sitting and half standing. You continue with the students standing until only 2 students left. It then becomes best of three. Hints: if other students call out the answer they are out, if you have a tie they get another word and if uneven amount of students play as a group of 3 or give someone else another go. Kids like it.
  • Triptico Image Bingo (and so many of the Triptioc resources) is awesome. The students love it and it is so easy to set up and then use. It even checks the answers for you!Spoons
  • SPOONS : Have students work in a group of 4-6 and choose the same amount of vocabulary then give one less spoon than there is in the group. ie. 6 students and 6 vocab words, but only 5 spoons. Prior to the game starting, students need to write SPOONS on a piece of paper. Aim of the game: students are trying to collect the kanji, hiragana, English and picture. They get dealt 4 cards at the start of the game, pass one card they don’t need to the person on the left whilst receiving one from the person on the right, continue to do so until they have a “set”. When they do, students take a spoon from the centre. One student will miss out and cross out one letter of SPOONS on their paper. When they have crossed out all letters, they are out. Super fun! There are many slight variations to this game, however it is engaging and fun and worth learning for your classes.
  • Jan Ken Pon Card Challenge – brainstorm a current topic’s vocab (ie, hobbies) and list on the board. Give students a sheet of paper they divide into 4 for 4 cards. Students then select 4 words from the board and write one per card. Put a target sentence structure on the board (ie, Shumi wa ____desu.) and students have to win cards from their classmates by using “Shumi wa xxxxx desu”. If a person has that card, they then complete a Jan Ken Pon to win that card. Yr7/8 boys go berserk when playing it!
  • FLY SWAT GAME : Class sits in a circle with a line of about 6 vocabulary images in the centre. A fly swat is laid on each side of the line. Students nominate to go first, I usually pick one from each side of the circle. They sit behind their fly swat and when I call out the vocab the first student to swat the correct image gains a point. You cannot change your mind and swat more than one image. Also, you must start with hands in laps. The winner remains to face a new challenger, whoever is next in the circle clockwise. The other student must return to their seat in the circle and it is their turn to call a word. A word cannot be called until the room is quiet. If you get three points, you get a sticker and return to your seat in the circle. When everyone has had a turn, there can be semi finals and finals with sticker winners to find the ‘grand swatter’
  • Hachi Pachi. Good for repetitive speaking practice. Choose a ‘detective’ who turns away. Students are sitting in a circle (I have them move the desks away and we use chairs), put heads down and I choose ‘hachi pachi’. Detective has a question to ask (eg. nansai desu ka). Asks randomly around the circle, trying to identify hatchi patchi. When asked students answer the question properly, unless they are hachi pachi, in which case they include the words hachi pachi somewhere in their answer eg ” boku wa jyuusan hachi pachi desu”. This is when everyone stands and moves (without running, pushing, sitting on others, etc) to another chair (not the one next to their old chair). The detective moves to also sit down and the last person standing is the new detective. I will admit this one only works with the right group, and takes constant reminders of appropriate behaviour, but they love it. Can be used with any q/a structure.
  • Oni and Princess wild card game. Free in my TPT store. Print, laminate cards, then can be used with any vocab or script card sets. Element of chance means even less able students may win. To see the resource, click here Japanese JANKENPON store
  • Battleships and cruisers: topic words/subject of sentence down one side with a visual and rest of sentence down the bottom eg transportation on one axis and destinations along the other
  • Vocab Finder page in pairs… Teacher calls out one word at a time in English and ss compete to find the word in Japanese first highlighting in different colours
  • Kana races on board – teacher shows students character, kids trace it on the back of the kid in front of them, goes up the line, eventually gets drawn on board. About 4 or 5 teams
  • Fruit salad : each kid picks a vocab word from that unit, keep it secret. Sit on chairs in a circle, one chair less than the number of kids. One kid calls out a vocab word, any kids that picked that word have to get up and change chairs, including the caller. Whoever doesn’t get a chair becomes the next caller. When you call out the topic title, everyone has to move chairs
  • Giant snap. In a circle, all kana on ground. Kids face off with opponent, first to snap on kana grabs it for their team
  • Kids pick a word they like – I pick a specific script – they write it on the board. I start off and call out my word, and another word on the board. That kid calls out their word, and another from the board. You can’t say the word of the person who called you. Good for reading and listening practice. When kids get better I put a metronome on my laptop, and kids have to keep to the beat. You rub out a word when kid mispronounces, repeats, misses the beat etc

This is still a work in progress. Stay tuned for more great ideas from the Super Senseis :-)

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