This article was originally featured in the April 2024 issue of Connect.

Annabelle Chang (Hokkaido)

Need an activity to boost your kids’ energy in class while also being beneficial for their English education? Among the many learning games out there, Kahoot! is a great online resource for teachers to engage students in their learning, and Japanese classrooms are no exception. It’s fun, colorful, engaging, and adaptable, making it an ideal teacher’s tool.

What is Kahoot?

Kahoot! is a website and an online platform that uses quiz-style games to encourage learning and can be accessed at The games themselves are called “kahoots,” and teachers make multiple-choice quizzes which students can access on a web browser or the app. There’s also an information slide portion, but in my experience, it’s rarely used. Many western high school and university students are likely familiar with how to play (but with the rise of technology in recent times, I wouldn’t be surprised if elementary students are using them as well), and I personally have been a player since high school. The website is completely free, aside from paid bonuses. Kahoot! is applicable to a variety of settings and subjects, and in my experience, does very well in English class in Japan. The great thing is, from elementary to high school, Kahoot! can be used for all levels of learning, and all subjects.

Why I Use it

For context, I teach elementary school (but I’m sure kids of all ages will enjoy it!). When I first started as an ALT, I noticed the kids were very weak in their English reading skills, as our classes mainly emphasized speaking. A big problem that dawned on me was that the curriculum focuses a lot more on learning set phrases, and vocabulary was drilled using flash cards with a picture. Even though the word was written on the card, they mostly associated how the word sounded with a picture of the concept. Now, I use Kahoot! as a way to lightly test my kids’ vocabulary reading skills, and show them that they need to not only pay attention to the pronunciation of a word, but also the spelling. All of the kids now have their own tablets they use, and they’re all generally tech-savvy, which makes explaining how to use new technology easier.

Day-to-day at work, I personally do a kahoot right after greetings with my fifth and sixth graders at the beginning of class as a vocabulary review of our current unit. My typical format is: “What’s [word in Japanese]?” Each kahoot is two of these, which may seem like very little, but as part of the daily warm-up, it’s a sweet spot, according to my JTE. Sometimes the other answer choices are other vocabulary words, and sometimes they’re misspellings of the target word. For special occasions (Halloween, Christmas, etc), I made a five-question holiday trivia, and I’ve made a match upper to lowercase one as well for my fourth graders. I like matching the background to the season for fun, and the kids enjoy that as well as customizing their avatars and nicknames each time. After each round, the screen shows the correct answer. I go over any questions, and have the kids read out each actual word answer choice to further practice their reading and speaking to make sure there weren’t any flukes. For trivia kahoots, I provide any other explanation to the answer or elaborate on them.

Besides my elementary school experience, I’ve heard of a junior high school ALT making questions that test which sentence properly uses the target grammar correctly.


My kids love getting to do kahoots every class and are excited to see their names come up on the podium at the end. If the teacher is nice and flexible, they’re also always thinking about what their kahoot nickname of the day is going to be, while some always go by the same thing. It’s given me more topics to talk about with my kids and get to know them, based on their nickname or the avatar they choose.

From the teacher’s perspective, I really do believe that doing this every class has helped improve their reading, with an activity other than staring at a textbook and doing flashcards every time.

My impact has gone beyond the English classroom at my schools. After I implemented it into my classes, one of my schools with a tech-savvy teacher started using it in other subjects, like social studies and math. Even though I don’t normally use it with fourth graders, as I thought they might have been too young for it, I’ve seen a former sixth grade teacher, now fourth grade teacher, using it in their class regularly. That’s what inspired me to create an alphabet one for them, since they’re not at the level that requires to know to read words just yet. The use of kahoot just continues to spread.

In fact, I think one school even used it for one of their training conference meetings. . . 

So what are you waiting for? If you haven’t already, share the idea with your JTE and get started with Kahoot! in your next class!

How to Use Kahoot!

The process of implementing it in the classroom is fairly easy and straightforward. First, you create an account or sign in with an existing social media profile. There should be an option for “Kahoots” on the side bar; click “Drafts,” and you can’t miss the big blue “Create Kahoot” button. Then, you add as many questions as you want! The free, basic version comes with the classic up-to-four answers quiz (you can choose multiple correct answers as well), a true/false quiz, and PowerPoint-like information slides. You can add as many questions as you like, change the time limit per question, add pictures to your questions, write two to four answer choices, and customize the background.

Once you’ve created a kahoot and are ready to use it in the classroom, click “Start” on the one you want to play. For a standard game, you’ll want to pick “Classic Mode.” A game code will be generated, and students can input it into on their tablet, or they can scan a QR code to directly proceed to the nickname screen. Once everyone’s put in their name, you can start the game!

Aside from “Classic Mode” in which students participate individually, the teacher can also select for the students to be able to participate in teams. These are teacher-led. Kahoot! also has some student-led games, some of which are part of the paid bonuses, but sometimes can be played for free. These usually have a theme to them, like castles, treasure boxes or the like.

As a warning, it takes the kids a bit of getting used to actually get to the site. They all want to search kahoot,, kahooto, kahuto, カフート, or some other variation into Yahoo! Kids or Bing. Usually, it’ll be the first thing that comes up anyway, but they’ll instinctively use Yahoo! Kids instead of directly typing in the address bar. I’ve found that they can either bookmark to make things easier, or they’re eventually able to figure out typing into the address bar is much faster. The browser’s history auto-fill function is also particularly helpful.

Annabelle hails from sunny, suburban Southern California and is currently an ALT at an elementary school in chilly, rural Hokkaido. Her hobbies include learning languages (nine live in her head to various degrees of fluency), writing stories (when writer’s block disappears), consuming Japanese media (the best way to study, obviously), eating good food (who doesn’t), and drinking boba (not an addiction, she swears). She blogs about life in Japan and boba, her two current obsessions.