Genki English Karuta Game

One popular game for teaching English in Japan is カルタ or “Karuta” In the traditional version the teacher just says a word and the kids hit the correct card. It’s a lot of fun but isn’t very good for teaching English. So in this video I go through some very simple ESL ideas to make the game much more effective.

Richard Graham

Hello, I'm Richard Graham. And when I was a kid I found school to be sooooo boring... So I transformed my way of teaching. I listened to what the kids were really wanting to say and taught it in ways they really wanted to learn. The results were magical. So I'm sharing it all with you now...

8 Responses to “Genki English Karuta Game”

  1. Margit

    I tried this game so many times, but it never was “The big thing”.
    Now I know why.

    This video is sooo helpful! Thank you very much!

  2. Flossy

    Excellent. I like the game without speaking to practise the words in the beginning, however I agree its only good for listening. The GE twist is perfect. Thank you too for the video, it makes it so easy to understand, especially with the english sub titles!!!

  3. Yumiko

    Thank you for showing the “sitting” version of GE Karuta. I experienced the “running” version in your Okayama workshop, but I thought I couldn’t do it in the narrow classroom. This one is great!!

  4. Julian-k

    This is by far the most requested game by my small small group students. It works for anything that you can get yes/no answers for, too!

    For my big over-crowded classes I have two teams and pick a volunteer from each. Those two stand at the starting position, and then I point to the students sitting down at random and have them ask me the question. When I say β€œyes”, the runners run around the class (I have my chairs arranged in a three-row semi-circle) and touch the card on the board. Makes keeping control easy, while still getting much more practice than traditional Kuruta.

  5. Carol

    Great variation Richard to get them listening AND speaking! I also think Julian-k’s idea for large classes is really good. Thanks!!

    I think the original version is still ok for a first lesson day activity and this version as a follow-up. I have used karuta at their seats as a 2nd day warm-up activity as well to see what has stuck. This variation would be a great closing activity.

    And a HUGE thanks for having the English subtitles!!!!

  6. Flossy

    I played this with 15 children on Thursday. It worked so well and was really good for practising the key phrases. I am going to split them into 3 groups next week and one of them can respond and the other 4 students can pick up mini food cards! Thanks Richard for such a cool version using this as a classroom based game!

    PS I was also so pleased as only one flashcard got a little crumpled in the grabbing process, all put right too with a run through the laminating machine!

  7. Jonathan

    I’m impressed. I’m so glad I watched this video. I remember at the September(?) ACET in Fukuoka you mentioned that we ESL teachers need to think a little more carefully about the activities we do. This applies equally to how we adapt these “traditional” games to make them really worth while… I would like to add two improvements (1) make it honest – touch on “No I don’t” (in this vocab set), as Japanese kids seem to love most food, and (2) correct the pronunciation and grammar errors – “”hot dogS, not hot dog, inviting them to retry after a couple of other students have had a go.

    This will be a BRILLIANT game for verbs – the problem is with verbs is that us elementary ESL teachers love to use “Can you ?” where in reality non-skill “can you” questions such as run, walk, listen to music are pretty dumb. Using this game, kids can quickly learn how to use “Do you like to ?” and “Can you ~?” simultaneously and appropriately if using a suitable card set.

    This is a very powerful activity – you could use question structures such as “How often do you ~?”, and “Have you ever~?”, sentences E.g. “I brush my teeth twice a day.” Could be a good review activity for structures with verbs. Could just have Japanese written on the cards… or hints in English…

    What do you think? Any “Buta no Shippu” adaptation ideas?

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