The Syllable Game

Listen to words and guess the number of syllables.
Target levelES 4 - JHS
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  • The Japanese syllable is called 音節 (おんせつ; onsetsu). Make teams of 3 or 4 students. Give each team cards numbered 1 to 6 (or make them). Show five to ten examples (with pictures) before starting the game.
  • A good example is the word "lion". In katakana (ライオン) it has four 音節, but in English it has two syllables. Write the katakana and English on the board and underline the 音節 and syllables. Easy examples are CD and TV and car. Students will do better if they repeat the word several times and try tapping their desk or leg for each syllable. Keep score on the board. This game may sound hard to your teacher, but it works quite well with elementary school grades 3-6.
  • Sample word list: car, apple, dog, cat, Japan, karate, lion, piano, watermelon, hippopotamus.


  • Instead of guessing the number of syllables, students guess the syllables themselves by saying them aloud. Unfortunately, this can be difficult with big classes.

See also