ELEMENTARY SCHOOL- Do you like apples?

Karatsu Castle in June

Karatsu Castle in June

Alright, obviously this lesson follows “I like apples.”

Review the vocabulary and key phrase from the previous lesson. Then, introduce “Do you like apples?”

I like to do this by picking a flashcard (例dog) and saying, “I like dogs. Do you like dogs?” Emphasize the meaning with a gesture to the class; obviously be a bit slower and bigger with your gesturing but you don’t have to go nuts. Or you can, they enjoy it.

Anyway, some of them might understand and raise their hands to communicate that they like dogs, too. Ask the HRT and make sure they say, “Yes, I do” regardless of what they actually think because otherwise it confuses things. Practice, “Yes, I do” then pick another flashcard and ask the HRT who will then answer, “No, I don’t.” Practice both answers and have some volunteers answer some “Do you like~” questions for stickers!

To enforce the question as well as the answer, you could play the line game again and whack out the old Hi, Friends DVD for some listening activities.

A game I find the students enjoy is BONGO. Not Bingo. BONGO!!!!

Here is my version of Bongo: DoyoulikeBONGO

So the pictures are already on the grid. Each student chooses a line, vertical, horizontal or diagonal. They want to check off all the pictures in their chosen line to achieve a BONGO! Ha! Sorry…

So they play janken, winner asks, “Do you like blah blah?” which will be a picture from their chosen line. If the loser doesn’t have that same picture in their line, they answer, “No, I don’t”. But, if they do they can answer “Yes, I do” and also check the picture off their line. Makes it a little more win win and also means they’ll be saying “No, I don’t” more which is a little harder to remember.

Of course, this is just for fun and doesn’t really put the phrase in context. Interview games are great for this phrase- you can have the students ‘gather data’ then look at the results together.

To make it into a janken game again, here is another worksheet that can be good fun, especially if you want a bit of a break: Ilikeboardgames

The students play in pairs and the aim is to be the first to reach the finish. Play janken. The winner asks “Do you like soccer?” which is the first space on the board. If the loser answers “Yes, I do” the winner draws a circle. If the loser answers, “No, I don’t” the winner draws a cross. Whatever the answer, the next time the winner wins janken they can ask, ” Do you like baseball?” which is the second space on the board. So it’s an interview-janken-race game.

If I don’t make any sense and you want a better explanation or have any questions, feel free to comment!

Emily x


Karatsu Kunchi 2013

Karatsu Kunchi 2013

The Hi, Friends DVDs have copies of all the flashcards you will need for each chapter so don’t worry too much about looking up your own- if you would rather have different sets though the students love it when you draw them yourself, get them to draw them or there are some good sites for free downloads such as MES English.

So, practice the new words (fruits, animals, food and sports) first. Then introduce “I like apples” by talking and showing what you like; they will pick it up fairly quickly. It’s good to have the HRT give an example as well. Practice the phrase with some volunteers and then play the Keyword Game to hammer it in.

Two other games I like to do for this topic are:

  1. Line Race– it’s a good idea before you start to have the students pick their favourite thing from the flash cards. Then have a column stand up for a demonstration. The student at the front says, “I like blah blah” to the student behind them. That student turns to the student behind them and says, “I like blah blah” all the way to the back. When the last student says, “I like blah blah” they all sit down. It’s a race to see which column can sit down first.
    If there are uneven numbers of students in each column, try to spread them out so it’s even or have the front student of a shorter column run to the back and say their sentence again then crouch down.
    To start them off, I say, “I like blah blah” to the first students.
    To keep them moving, have the students shuffle around at the end of each round.
    It’s hard to keep an eye on who was the first in bigger classes so try to select a top three and give them claps and maybe avoid giving stickers.
  2. Memory game– get the students into lunch groups. The students decide an order within their groups. Student 1 starts, “I like A.” The second student says, “I like A and B.” The third student says, “I like AB and C,” etc. This teaches the students ‘and’ and gets them to use more of the vocabulary instead of just their favourite flash card.

So the Japanese don’t really use plurals for stuff. “I like a dog” and “I like dogs” are said the same way, “犬が好き” (ペラペラJapanese speakers, please correct me if that’s incorrect!!) so the concept of ‘s’ is new to them. Some people feel it might be less daunting for the students if they just skip over it in younger classes but… it’s not as hard for fifth graders to grasp as you might think.

I just explain it as it’s not just this apple I like, I like any apple I eat so with fruits we need to use ‘s’. Even if they don’t fully understand that, they get, “One apple, no ‘s’, two apples, ‘s’ yes!” When practicing the new words for this topic, I practice singular and plural with them and they do get it even if they don’t always remember to use it when speaking themselves. For sports and the food/ drink names, I just say we don’t need to use ‘s’ because it’s a group name and they’re cool with it. So even though I can’t give them a technical or full explanation of the grammar, I found a way to teach them it anyway and it works pretty well and I think it really gives them an advantage when relearning everything in JHS.

Emily x

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL- Counting from 1-20

The flower of Nanayama

The flower of Nanayama

I made a worksheet based on some of the activities from the Hi, Friends textbook: introducing numbers

Practice 1-10. They usually know these so it won’t take long. There was a counting song on the old textbook CD (Eigo Noto) that is fun to use as it involves gestures. Once they get the hang of it, try challenging them to sing it faster and faster then really slowly.

The left side of the worksheet is a very simple janken game that they will love and want to play again (hence the two grids). They find a partner, play janken and if they win they write a circle and if they lose they write a cross. They play janken 10 times then sit down once they’ve finished. Use the phrase “How many circlescrosses?” when having them call out their totals.

Practice 11-20. This will take a while- I really try to work on the ‘n’ sound and make sure they get 12 and 20 right (for some reason they usually get those confused the most!). Practice them a lot. Try counting from 1-20 as a group then have them count one by one.

Next, play the janken pyramid bingo game on the worksheet. They write numbers at random from 1-20, they find a partner and janken, winner gets to choose and say the number they want to circle. If the loser has the same number, they get to circle it, too, then usually I will give stickers to the first 10 students who fill in their entire pyramid. Yay!

That’ll probably be more than enough for one lesson.

Emily x


Ogi lantern festival, Saga

Ogi lantern festival, Saga

I like to teach them six responses with flashcards:

How are you?

  1. I’m fine/good! (they usually translate this as 元気 so “good” or “great” might be better than “fine”.)
  2. I’m happy!
  3. I’m sad.
  4. I’m angry!
  5. I’m sleepy.
  6. I’m hungry!

**For new words, apparently the maximum they can easily remember is 9 but if you’re teaching fruits or colors they usually already know a lot of the words so you can practice a lot more.**

We practice the phrases by throwing Samurai-chan around then play the keyword game.


Pair game. Students turn their tables so they are facing each other with one eraser between them.

From the words you have just practiced, put a star or marker on one of the flashcards. This flashcard is the keyword.

Have the students put their hands on their heads and get them to repeat after you:

“I’m fine.”        “I’m fine!” *clap clap*

“I’m angry.”    “I’m angry!” *clap clap*

When you say the keyword (e.g. “I’m happy!”) the students don’t have to repeat, they just lunge for the eraser! The student who gets the eraser receives one point!

Change the keyword and repeat!

**If you want there to be clear winners, play the keyword an odd number of times. If you have a confident class, get a student to do your part for a round and you can play against their partner.**

There are a few other activities I like to do including this BINGO gameHow are you Bingo! Assign each student an emotion, they find a partner, play Rock, Paper, Scissors, winner asks the loser “How are you?” and the loser answers with their assigned emotion and the winner can write down the loser’s name on their worksheet. Aim is to see how many names they can get.

Emily x

Elementary School- cram time!

Children's Day in Saga

Children’s Day in Saga

For the first time on JET, I have felt the time limit. It never really worried me before but suddenly I have a whole textbook to get through and only 10 lessons to do it! Argh!

So, as we’re going to be bombing through the rest of the textbook, I wanted to make sure all my Year 5 are up to speed with what we have studied so far.

We have covered: self introductions, feelings, numbers (1-20), likes and dislikes, interviews and lots of cultural stuff (Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas etc) so for a review lesson, I put together some old games they have played before onto a worksheet and they completed each challenge in groups and it worked really well.

This is the worksheet: Mini Quiz- Yr5 review

And then there’s my Year 6. I was going to make a similar review game but they really are behind and also a little low level in English so I just want them to have high speed fun times until they graduate and have all the joy sucked out of them in JHS. I don’t know what happens over those two weeks between Year 6 and Year 7 but suddenly all the enthusiasm just vanishes.

Anyway, so I only just started “I want to go to Italy” at the beginning of this term so I have had to cram four lessons into two for each topic. *Should* be fine…

For I want to go to Italy, we played the interview game in the textbook and a janken bingo game with a world map worksheet which really interests the kids. They react well to the UK being in the centre and finding and colour coding all the countries we’ve studied. Then I gave each student a country, they played janken and the loser had to say “I want to go to *allotted country*” and the winner could check it off their sheet.

This is the bingo worksheet: Map and flash cards

Before, I’ve had them make quizzes and present their 行きたいcountry but there isn’t time this year, sadly😦 Don’t know how I managed to lose track of time.

Anyway, yeah, just a brief check in and worksheet share!

Emily x

Self Introduction Lesson 2 – Elementary School

Karatsu Kunchi 2014

Karatsu Kunchi 2013

This is an extremely arrogant, “I’m an awesome ALT”, post, just to prepare you. It’s for any newbies who are a bit nervous about their first ES classes to show they have nothing to worry about- everything about you, the new teacher, will be the awesomest thing ever!

So yeah…


So I don’t really like talking at them very much but I want them to get to know me so I like to play this Betting Game with them.

I have the students get into their lunch groups and give them all a sheet of paper with questions on it. The questions are about me and my family and they have two options to choose from.

E.g. What’s my name?

A. Emily B. Doraemon

They choose which answer they think is correct as a group. If it is right, they get 10 points! Yay! If it’s wrong, they get minus -10! さいやく!And it’s all fun and laughs and lots of screaming of, “A!!!!!” or, “B!!!!!”


On occasions, the guessing game has taken up the entire lesson but if I have time we make name cards. I usually give out one chart of hiragana to romaji per group and give them each a B5 piece of coloured paper to write their name on- writing in pencil first so I can check it then they can write it in pen and draw all over it.

In my second year as an ALT, I used to have them decorate their name cards with the stickers I gave them but now I like to give them passports that they can use as sticker books. They really like the idea of having a foreign passport- last year I only prepared British passports but this year I had time to draw and make the American one, too, so they had some variety.

NOTE: they like to choose which colour they make their name card from so maybe come up with a system where they come up in some sort of order. Maybe in the order of points from the betting game or just do “eenie meenie minie mo” I’ve found they really enjoy!

Emily x

Self Introduction Lesson 1 at Elementary School

Karatsu Kunchi 2013

Karatsu Kunchi 2013

This is an extremely arrogant, “I’m an awesome ALT”, post, just to prepare you. It’s for any newbies who are a bit nervous about their first ES classes to show they have nothing to worry about- everything about you, the new teacher, will be the awesomest thing ever!

So yeah…


I really enjoy using the textbook Hi, Friends but I like to use it more as a guide for my lesson planning or as a way of introducing the topics that I then expand upon.

So! My first class with the fifth graders usually goes like this:

I come in, they scream hello at me, I smile and am very expressive when they talk to me but try not to say anything until class starts. Once we’ve bowed and everyone sits down I take a deep breath then bellow “BONJOUR!” and wave wildly. Hopefully, they will stare at me in utter confusion then laugh as I look worried and try and think of another word. “JAMBO!” I’ll try, to potentially the same response although some students may start to catch on. They all suddenly realise what I’m doing when I next try “NIHAO” and “ANNYEONGHASEYO”, stumble over “Kon… Kon… Nichiwa?” and eventually “HELLO!”. And then I give my self introduction.

“Hello! My name is Emily Jane Atkinson.” I write my name on the board, say it’s a bit long so add, “Just call me Emily,” as I underline my name.

“I’m 24 years old,” I say, flicking a two then a four up with my fingers. When they get it, I write it on the board.

“I’m from the UK.” As the UK has such a variety of names, I thought I might as well go for the shortest and easiest to read one although they usually don’t know it so I have them guess for a bit then maybe give them a hint like, “What’s USA?”

“America!” they cry.

“So how about the UK?”


Eventually they get it and I write it on the board finishing with a cheerful “Nice to meet you”.

So then I explain that today we are going to practice meeting and greeting. I write A-san and B-san on the board and ask them what would they say when they first see each other. That’s easy, “Hello.” I write hello (even though they won’t be able to read it- it’s a nice guide for them later) for A and B. We then practice this initial greeting by throwing my mascot back and forth three times. They love my mascot (a round cat with a samurai helmet christened Samurai-chan) and I highly recommend getting one although don’t expect them to be careful with it. After three years, Samurai-chan is a little beat up.

So next! I ask them what would A and B ask each other if they’d just met for the first time? They may suggest “Nice to meet you” as that’s the typical pattern for a Japanese greeting so I say that’s good and write it but at the bottom of the board and ask for another idea.

They will suggest, “My name is _____”

It’s up to you whether you teach them the question and answer or just the answer. Just practicing “My name is _____” is easier as they tend to already know it but if you practice it with them a few times, “What’s your name?” isn’t particularly difficult for them either. I chuck the mascot to a few volunteers to practice then finish the greeting off with “Nice to meet you” and throw my mascot around some more.

Then we practice the entire dialogue together and maybe even split the class into A and B to really hammer it home.


Give them all a small piece of card (coloured or otherwise- just a scrap piece is fine though) and have them write their name in hiragana (if you can’t read kanji, like me!) or let them write it in English if they know how- if they do, they write it very proudly; it’s very cute!

Write one for yourself and the HRT (Home Room Teacher) can write one, too. You will quickly get to know your HRT and how much involvement or what sort of role they want to play within your classes so if they are particularly into it and on standby- use them for as many demonstrations as possible as it’s really good for the students to see a Japanese person using English. Also, if you want to only use English in your class then it’s good to have them there to either give a Japanese explanation when the kids are stuck or try and explain it in a way they know their class will understand; don’t worry or get bothered by it, they know what they’re doing!

NOTE: the HRT may not know a lot of English so you might want to run over the dialogues with them before class. Anyway, I’m writing my lesson plans like it’s mostly all on you as the ALT but if you can, get that teacher as involved in your classes as possible.

Anyway, if you’ve got a willing teacher, demonstrate the dialogue with them in front of the students then swap name cards. You then become the teacher and the teacher becomes you so when you next introduce yourself you say, “My name is Tokunaga Sensei!” for example. A friend of mine recommended this idea to me and it’s great fun. I have the students running around introducing themselves and swapping cards for a few minutes then have them sit back down and have a few volunteers give self introductions.

“Hello. My name is ______” -everyone laughs- ”Nice to meet you.”

Done! Then, I go back to the greetings I used at the beginning of class. We think about what countries they come from (very briefly) and I show them flags if they don’t know. We also practice a few greetings together.

Then, I erase the question “What’s your name?” (no problem if you decided against teaching it) and add “I’m from ______” and work out what it means with them and practice it with the mascot.


I give each student a card with a country and the country’s greeting on it (again, a game from a friend). Instead of saying “Hello” they say the greeting on the card (written in katakana) and instead of “I’m from Japan” they say the country on their card.

This is where I complicate things- it works but if you think it’s too “busy” then you obviously don’t have to use it.

I give each student a “nice to meet you sign sheet”. To show them what to do, I demonstrate the dialogue with the HRT, swap papers with them, we sign each other’s paper and swap back. Have a loopy, quick signature ready to flaw the kids (I also have them choose their favourite colour pen to write in)!

I then challenge them to see how many names they can get under a time limit, we check, clap and/or give out stickers and that’s a wrap!

I really think it’s a good way to start out with very lively speaking activities so they are introduced to your pattern of speaking and can feel confident about starting out as you and they will be surprised at what they already know (“hello”, “my name is” and “nice to meet you” being some examples!) and you’re not overwhelming them with loads of information about yourself and your country in a stream of English.

Some people argue that it is really important to use lots of Japanese in Elementary School classes. I partly agree as it’s useful when they’re really stuck to drop in the odd keyword but I am very much on the use-lots-of-English side. Even explanations. Remember that gesturing is a big part of communication, too and it is pretty amazing how much they can understand without translation.

 Emily x