Karuta is a Japanese game similar to snap. It's a fun way to test listening recognition for vocabulary sets and students love this game. The bonus is that every Japanese student knows karuta so you barely have to explain the rules.

Basic Info

Time: 5 - 10 minutes
Level: Easy
Works with: Vocabulary sets
Class size: Any size

You will need:

  • Many sets of small flash cards (one for every group)

Lesson Description

  1. Students make pairs or groups.
  2. Give each pair/group a set of cards. Students spread all cards on floor/desk face up.
  3. Teacher calls out a vocabulary word, and the students try to be the first to slap their hand down on the appropriate card. First down takes the card.
  4. The student with the most cards at the end is the winner.


  • After the game, chat with students asking how many cards they got.
  • If you are leading the whole class (ie. the JTE isn't so confident), ask them to lead this game. You can join a table.
  • If you play this game multiple times, let stronger students lead it. (You will still want to moderate or be there to assist. Encourage the student to ask "Are you ready?" and say "Number one... blue.")


  • Students can get sulky if they are paired with someone far stronger than them. Shuffling students can help.
  • This game take a lot of preparation time creating the cards.
  • There is very little speaking practice value in this activity. Use this game early in your lesson for listening practice. (For more able students, you can try getting them to ask you a relevant question before you call out the next word. ie. If you are doing vegetables, get the class to ask you "What vegetables do you like?" or something similar and your reply will be the card to snap on.)


  • No comments found
Add comment