It’s been a year since we started this blog. We’ve been selling on Amazon Japan for a few months now, but the fees for keeping one product online are too high for us to continue. As a result,we will shortly be taking it off Amazon Japan sometime. If you’re interested in the 51 activities, as well as the ideas for variations, now is the time to get your hands on it. We will be selling it for 750 yen, instead of the usual 1500. You can see a preview, and there’s also an ebook version.
Writing projects can be a great way to create motivation, as well as getting students used to using English in their day-to-day lives. Many students are already familiar with social media and publishing photos or writing to the internet. The benefits of a blog is that it is a real life application of the language and can be viewed by the teacher, classmates, as well … Continue reading Class Writing Project
Overview: Students answer questions. The one that answers decides who can sit down. Really fun way to start a Japanese elementary school class and get them into the mood for English. It’s also good for reviewing things from the last lesson.
Set Up: This works if the student’s desks are in lines, like in most Japanese schools.
Overview: Students practice buying and selling items.
Set up: Students are in groups of about 4. Each group will decide what kind of shop they’ll make and write a list of 5 items they have for sale and the price.
Writing is a really important skill and it’s a great way for students to improve their meaning focused output when they do not have a chance to talk. Since I’ve been in Japan, one thing I’ve noticed is that there is less focus on writing in all subjects, not just language study. There is far less creative writing, formal writing and making speeches in Japanese. My impression is that part of the reason for the difference is assessment is that writing is harder and less accurate to mark, as there isn’t a set answer. It is also time consuming to mark. (If you really want to, you can take it back to Confucius’ influence, but we won’t go there right now…)
Here are some tips to add variation to your writing tasks that will make it more interesting for the students, improve their writing and make marking easier.
All of this then comes together for overall improvement. Here I’d like to introduce a few tips for getting the most out of writing tasks.
Everyone knows that teaching to tests can be problematic. Something I’ve been thinking about lately is the nature of those tests. Tests are of course useful in terms of having goals and setting benchmarks. However, as Japanese tests tend to focus on multi choice grammar questions, they need to have questions that are suitably difficult, but don’t have to necessarily represent how English is generally used.
One example of this is the focus on ‘much’ and ‘many’. It’s easy to spend too much time on this distinction because there are so many strange rules around whether we’re talking about countable or uncountable things, which is why it’s perfect for sticking in tests. However, the result is that after rote memorization of the various rules for the test, and the subsequent forgetting of said rules, learners are left with ‘many’ and ‘much’ as their only way to demonstrate a lot of something. This leads them to the situation where they end up trying to remember if they should say ‘He has many money’ or ‘He has much money’. After letting them run through that internal struggle for while, I then have to remind them about ‘a lot of’. The third and final quantifier that they learn as more of an afterthought than anything.
Originally posted on iaccidentlyatethewholething :
I couldn’t yell it at my Japanese co-workers so I’m gonna write it here: people don’t learn a language through tests! I say this from experience. English is my second language. Until the age of 8.5 I could not speak a word of it. In fact, I loathed the damn gibberish I couldn’t decrypt. So much so, that I remember crying… Continue reading The Best Book For ESL Teachers