Criss-cross or tate-yoko as it is known to most Japanese junior high students is a simple junior high warm-up game where you can avoid questions or may have to answer depending on if you are in the row or column of the person in the spotlight at that moment.

Basic Info

Time: 5 - 10 minutes
Level: Junior high grade 1 - 3
Works with: Dialogue, Q&A, speaking
Class size: Medium to large

You will need:

  • nothing

Lesson Description

  1. Everyone in the class stands up.
  2. You ask a question. Try to ask questions based on grammar the class has done in previous lessons.
  3. Choose someone to answer and if they get it right, the can choose tate or yoko (lengthwise or widthwise). Whichever they choose, everyone in that row or column can sit down and no longer have to answer the questions. Continue until everyone is sitting down.


  • The kids will naturally tend towards saying in Japanese "tate" or "yoko" when you ask them which way they want to go. Encourage them to use (as I do) "This way." while gesturing which way.
  • Simple questions and answers are ok, but if you have the time, a question with a natural follow-up question is a really nice challenge for more capable students. "Have you ever been to Disneyland?" "When did you go?/Which ride did you like?"


  • Start with one row or column standing, everyone else sitting down. Ask questions and only the people standing answer. If they answer correctly, they can sit down. If you started with a row, the last person to answer is where the row turns to a column. (ie. The last person determines the next row or column.) Continue until the time runs out.
  • When you run this game, you are the star of the show. It's nice to focus attention elsewhere, so you can have students become the question askers. Divert questions alternately between you and the JTE (or let students choose who they want to ask).


Often the last ones left will be in, say, a row but when you ask them they will say tate (lengthwise) meaning they sit down alone and leave the others standing. This is all fine and fun but it means less capable students are left at the end. So let the last kids off with easy questions!

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