Game in Japanese

The Syllable Game!

Target Grade:3-6
Target English: Curing Katakana accents!

This game aims to show the students that it's impossible to think about English words using katakana and still get the pronunciation correct. The kids do very well at it - but the teachers find it mega difficult (and amusing!). It's also good for the times when the older kids are not in the mood for a "genki", lively game.


1. Put the kids into 6 groups.

2. Give each group 6 pieces of paper. On the first piece of paper write "1". Write "2" on the second etc. etc.

3. For the scoring I like to use the "Banana Tree" scoring system, its the same as the Banana Tree Game but without the ball and music thing..

4. Explain that English syllables and Japanese ones (onsetsu) are different. For example "Lion" has 2 in English, but Japanese "Raion" has four (ra - i - o - n). Get a Japanese teacher to help you! Then you can start the game.

5. Say a word in English. (holding up a picture of the "thing" also helps here to reinforce their vocab)

6. The kids then have to guess how many syllables it has.


7. They hold up the card that has the correct number on (e..g if they think it has 3 syllables then they hold up the 3 card).
Note that all the teams should hold the cards up at the same time as the other teams, to avoid any cheating!

8. If they get it correct then their team's animal climbs one step up the tree!

9. Repeat from step 5 until one team reaches the top.


This is a really good game. Things like "dog" and "cat" confuse them at first, but they quickly get the hang of it. Similarly words like "kendo" or "Japan" are good as in English the "n" is not counted. After a few goes you can move on to things like "The United Kingdom", "The Olympic Games" or "Hippopotamus"!!

Although adults will find it difficult the Primary School Children should quickly get the hand of it, and realise that to speak English they have to listen to you, and not think in katakana!!!

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