Be a Better Teacher

For ALTs who want to be better in the classroom.

When I first started teaching English in Japan, we didn't have textbooks for elementary students. Then we had Eigo Noto. Now we have Hi, friends! When I first started, each lesson I taught at elementary school was unto itself - the never continued or related to each other. They were also very vocabulary focused. Grammar was an afterthought.

Read more ...

Did you know that motivation is the primary trigger of language acquisition? And that motivation differs student to student? It seems so obvious but there was a time when academics assumed students all had the same level of motivation for learning a new language. Crazy right!

The fact is, motivation is a personal thing and differs student to student and those with higher motivation learn better. Luckily, motivation is changeable. So let's talk about how we can use these ideas to help more students succeed in the English classroom.

Read more ...

Often the work of an ALT, especially at junior high level, is likened to being a tape recorder. We're asked to read things out loud so that students can repeat after us. This can get boring but if you consider the purpose and potential benefits of this activity, you can increase the value to the students of this activity.

Read more ...

One of the biggest challenges teaching English in Japan is communicating with students (and teachers) in class. Some of us choose to use the crutch of Japanese to help with classroom instructions and communication, while others are die-hard for the full immersion English only approach. But then it's very easy to start using Japanese-English rather than normal English. What is the difference? Which is better?

Read more ...

If you teach English in the Japanese public school system at Elementary level, you probably work or have worked alongside at least one homeroom teacher (HRT) that gives the distinct impression of disliking English (or at least, teaching it). In some cases, there's nothing you can do but in most the reason and solution for better classroom interaction and a more enthusiastic homeroom teacher is simple.

Read more ...

Presenting in pairs is a way to lessen the burden of presenting things in front of the whole class. Even though doing solo presentations is a good confidence builder, it is challenging speaking in a second language and solo speaking just makes is stressful when the main goal of an English lesson should be to get the students talking!

Read more ...

If you teach English at a public school in Japan, you know that not all students are eager to participate all the time. These easy to implement steps can encourage elementary students to participate more in your classes.

Read more ...

When I started teaching English in Japan, I think the students got some good communication time with me. I had no idea how to teach, even less Japanese ability and so what I did was talk to the students. And without any idea of what they had studied so far. During warmup Q&A's, the class teacher would often tell me "Sorry, they haven't studied that grammar yet."

Read more ...

Oftentimes, our roles in class are thinking up games or activities to make practicing a phrase or short dialogue set fun and kid oriented. But there is the other English that you should also nurture in your class. The every day English, also known as classroom English - it's what the students use as part of the lesson but isn't the lesson, it's what helps communication throughout the class.

Read more ...

Your first day as an English teacher in a Japanese school can be nerve wracking. Not only are you dropped into a new work environment with new people (and for many of us) in a new language. On top of that, the first time you step into a Japanese class room you will be asked to teach your first live lesson! - The good news is it's not that bad, and the tips below will help you get through it.

Read more ...

We often use warm ups in class, whether you are teaching elementary, junior high or high school. A bad warm up can set a mood that's hard to shake but an effective warm up that follows these three main points will set you up for a successful class that leaves students looking forward to their next English lesson.

Read more ...

English pronunciation in Japan is generally at quite a low level. This is because Japanese students of English tend to rely on the katakana pronunciation of English words.

The katakana pronunciation can make it hard for certain words to be understood by a native English speaker but the reverse problem occurs too. Students also have trouble understanding words spoken in a natural, native English speaker's accent.

Read more ...