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Guess, Bet, Answer!


Following up with the last blog piece on guessing, making assumptions, and estimations,  here is an activity idea that incorporates those theme. The activity challenges the students and makes them bet points based on limited information. It's a great way to see if the students have confidence in themselves and their classmates, while being cautious using risk assessment to win the game.

The first thing to do is to ask some of the other subject teachers what they are teaching in their classes (much easier if you made efforts early in the year to build relationships). Take notes and go over those text textbooks as well. Obviously, at least N2 level Japanese ability is required however, if you need assistance, prepare well in advance, make photocopies of the relevant pages, and ask the English teachers to help prepare for the activity.

Make at least 5 questions for each subject. Use simple but natural English (adjust to each grade level) in order for the students to have the best opportunities to discuss and answer. Prepare subject/question cards.

Now comes the activity!

Use your preferred method to divide the class into teams of 6-8 members - or even better, give them 5 minutes to talk amongst themselves and decide on their terms. Give each team 600 points to start the game with.


Give each team a random subject/question card. Set the timer for 2 minutes for discussion. At time up, have them place their bets (I usually make it a rule that they can only bet up to 150 points max so that they can't lose it mid-way through the activity). Go around each team and have them read the question card, then answer. Give them plus or minus points depending on their answers.

Rinse and repeat with new subject/question cards!

The point of this activity is for students to decide if their group is good at a certain subject or not. The betting is based on their confidence in each subject. They have to use their good, or bad, judgement to decide if they are going all in on one subject, or be cautious and not risk too much.

Feel free to change up the subjects. Use categories for instance, such as animals, space, trains, anime and manga, video games, music, places in Japan, sports, countries, and the list goes on - find out what the students are interested in for more effective engagement. It's always fun to see a student who is really good at a subject or category, and has the confidence to help out the team.

At the of the activity, tally up the points and announce the winning team. Show them that risk assessment and good judgement can lead to high scores. Also, show them that if they are good at something, they should have the confidence to share that with their classmates. You may even find some silly students who just want to bet to the max each time no matter what just to see what happens. Either way, it should be a really fun time in the class, and the students will quickly forget that they are listening and speaking English together.

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