Typhoon Game (JHS and SHS all years, all levels)

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Name of Teacher: Michael Hofmeyer

Class/Grade/Language Level: Junior and Senior High School

Textbook and specific lesson: no textbook

Goal: Revision and speaking practice

Preparation: revision/general knowledge questions; point cards (stick-up-on-the-board-with-Daiso-magnetic-stickers size or draw-out-of-a-hat size)

Class time: 20-50 minutes

Stages of the Lesson: Explanation of rules; let the games begin!

Roles: ALT explains rules beforehand and asks questions; JTE provides explanations where necessary, oversees drawing of point cards and keeps score on the board.

The typhoon game (a variation of which is to be found in Planet Eigo) is a versatile quiz game activity that is fun to teach, usually gets the students excited and can either be used as part of a lesson or as a lesson on its own. I’ve found this game to be especially effective before tests as a revision activity that will motivate even normally lazy students to use what they have learned in previous lessons.

Pro-tips for a successful typhoon game in 3 easy steps:

Step 1: (preparation)

  • Point cards with different point values should be prepared. For a 50-minute game, I recommend at least 25 cards of different point values. These can be put into a container (hat or hat-like), from which students can draw a card without looking. Alternatively, bigger (around 15x15cm) cards can be prepared and divided into different classes (for example classes A-C), with the A-class cards being worth more points and reserved for the more difficult questions and lower level cards used for the easier questions. Lastly, one or more ‘typhoon cards’ (with a Ҩ picture, for example) should be added to the set.
  • A list of questions or tasks should also be prepared. These can either test the work already covered in class or test general knowledge and conversational skills. I recommend a combination of both.

Step 2 (the following rules should be explained to the class before the activity begins)

  • Students should arrange themselves into groups (4 to 6 students per group usually works best).
  • Students should listen the ALT’s question, then discuss it in their group. When a group thinks they have an answer, one student from the group should raise their hand.
  • Answers should not be shouted out.
  • Every student in a group should get a chance to answer, so that one student does not volunteer to answer a second time unless everyone else has had a first chance too.
  • If one group gets an answer wrong, the teachers will give another group a chance to answer.
  • If a group answers correctly, the student who answered can draw a point card (either from the hat-like container, without looking, or from the board) and the points will be added to the group’s total.
  • Drawing one of the typhoon cards can be either very bad or very good news for a group, depending on their current score. If one of the groups who are not in the lead draws this card, their points will exchanged with those of the leading group and they will take the lead. If, however, the leading group draws this card, they will instantly lose all of their points!

Step 3 (tips)

  • The rules above are a little time-consuming to explain. I have found, however, that if I use simple English to go over all these points, I only need to explain the rules once. Even if the students do not all understand the rules, they will soon pick them up once the quiz gets started. At Junior High School level, the JTE might need to repeat the rules in Japanese.
  • This game allows teachers quite a lot of freedom to change the rules in order to keep things fun and competitive. If one group or one section of the class dominates from early on, the teachers can pick one of the slower groups to answer, for example. In some classes, the girls may be too shy to raise their hands first. In this situation, girl groups may be given the first chance to answer in order to boost their confidence.
  • The typhoon cards help to increase the suspense of the game, as over-confident groups who answer the most questions are also the most likely to draw one of these cards. At the teachers’ discretion, other rules can also be introduced to make the game more interesting, such as having all cards count double points for the last few rounds of the game.
  • For general knowledge questions involving number guessing, it can be more fun to give each group a chance to guess the number. Each group’s answers are then written on the board and the group who guessed the closest gets to draw the point card for that round.

Number questions that have proved to be especially popular:

  • How many teachers are there in ____________ school?
  • How many students are there in ____________ school?
  • How many islands does Japan have? (The answer is 6 852. Students tend not to have the faintest idea how many there are and usually guess under 100, which can make the unveiling of the correct answer very dramatic.)

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