Sunday, November 20, 2005

Reading Silently vs. Reading Along

Ayu, Cube, Eri-chan, Gami, and I are conducting an investigation about Reading. Would you like to help us out? If you would like to help us out and you speak English as a second language , please click here and do our reading exercise.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Roles of HRTs and ALTs

Bonsai has listed the roles of HRTs (Homeroom teachers) and ALTs (Assistant Language Teachers) according to the research literature she has read. If anyone is interested in team teaching or would like to comment on what Bonsai wrote, please check it out.

Friday, November 11, 2005

What's New? (11/11)

Our Seminar
The semester is progressing and students' theses are due in two and a-half-months. Bonsai, Hope, and YuS have now started to put more time into their papers. You can go to their blogs and see how they are progressing. Bonsai is writing about the roles that ALTs and JTEs should take in elementary schools. Hope is investigating how elementary schools and junior high schools can work together to coordinate their English programs. YuS is investigating why so many jr. and senior high school students lose interest in English and how to remedy this problem.
The juniors (Ayu, Cube, Eri, and Gami) and I are working on our own investigation. We will be conducting our own survey and will post it on the blog hopefully next week.
Speaking of the juniors, Eri and Ayu wrote about their experience doing teaching practice at a nursery school. Both their posts were very interesting. At their nursery schools children learn through play and children arguing with each other is seen as a good thing because they learn how to deal with conflict.
Other Blogs
I have been a little too busy to read many other blogs, but I did read an interesting post on in class discussion topics by AJ Hoge. Read the entry and tell me how you would like to participate in such a class.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Why can my son say the sound "A-va, va?"

The other day, my son 14-month old son was running around the house saying "A-va, va". You can listen here. (Although you can hear me saying "A-va,va" is the recording, it was M-chan who initially said the phrase and it is me who is imitating him.) I was surprised because the sound "va" does not exist in Japanese. The only English my son, M-chan, is exposed to is the gibberish I speak. I was wondering whether his "A-va-va" vocal experimentation was perhaps the result of him listening to my English. Or, could one expect other Japanese babies to make such sounds at 14 months even if they had not been exposed to any English. Can anyone give me some guidance?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

What's New (10/25)

Our Seminar
  • This week, Ayu, Gami and myself facilitated an English Department Open House for high school students interested in our university. The public relations committee had asked us to do a "mock lesson" for the students and it was a success! From this experience, I had an epiphany about how I could make group work actually work next time I am called on to teach a demonstration class at a junior high school.
  • Gami wrote about her experience teaching at a cram school. Do you think her experience working at a cram school is typical?
  • Bonsai, YuS, and Hope have finished their 2 weeks of teacher training at junior high schools and have rejoined the seminar!Bonsai has started distributing a questionnaire she made for ALTs working in elementary schools. Sometime this week, she will write about what she hopes to learn from this questionnaire and what she thinks the results will be. YuS is putting the finishing touches on a questionnaire asking recent high school graduates to reflect on their six years of learning English in junior and senior high school. This week Yu will also write about what he hopes to learn from the questionnaire and what he thinks the results will be. Today, Hope and I are going to meet and see how she is progressing with her paper "The Future of English Education in Japan."
  • Eri, Ayu, and Cube have been a little quiet lately. I hope that we can hear from them soon.


  • AJ Hoge's situation at the university has had some unfortunate developments, details are here. AJ is now in Japan and already has some new students! He was interviewed by students in Aaron Campbell's class. The interview is here.
  • Marco Polo after reading the blogs of AJ, Aaron, and myself has theorized why teaching at institutions is difficult for teachers who care about their students' learning. What do you think about what he has to say?

Blogs from Other Classes

  • I have looked at the blogs of students from Rosa's ESL class in Australia. The students are from a variety of countries and talk about their home countries; pretty interesting stuff!

Well, tomorrow, I have to give two 3-hour workshops to jr. and sr. high school English teachers about teaching reading. I am now going to prepare. Have a nice week! Adios!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

An Idea for getting students to do group work

Today my university had an open house for highy school students. With the assistance of Gami, Ayu, another student and my uni and a colleague in my apartment, I did a 20 minute mock lesson for a group of 37 and then a group of 29 high school students. Occassionally, I am called upon to teach "demonstration lessons" at junior high schools. When I have tried group work in these classes it has not gone well. Why? The major reason is the students are not used to working in groups. Today, the group work went very well. Why? Because I had four assistants patrolling the class, encouraging the other groups, and providing assistance or instruction when necessary. I realized that if students are not accustomed to doing tasks in groups and reporting their results to the rest of the class, they need a great amount of assistance at the beginning. The key word is "great amount"; each group needs more assistance than I myself can provide. Next time I have a demonstration class at a junior high school, I think that I will ask 4 of my university students to participate as assistants. To learn to ride a bike, I first used training wheels. To learn to do group work, jr. high students will first need training wheels.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

My Baby's Voice

I have a 14 month old son and recently he started saying real, intelligible words! In fact, his first word was "Daddy"! You can imagine how happy I was!
I have made a voice blog and will be periodically posting my son's word of the day; his mother speaks to him in Japanese and I speak to him in English so it will be interesting to see how his language develops. The site is in Japanese and English. The link to the voice blog is here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

What's New in our Blogging?

I have been reading some of the blogs written by our colleagues (other English teachers) and members of our seminar, Research Methodologies in English Education.

Our Colleagues

  • Team Orepan, a junior high school teacher from Hokkaido, is in a slump. If you would like, please write him and give him some encouragement.
  • AJ Hoge, a University English teacher in Thailand, was fired for speaking his opinions on his blog. Personally, I did not think his blog was controversial in the least bit. Actually, I quite liked it. Some of my favorite posts of his were "Beating the System" which no longer appears to be on-line and the "Jerry Mcguire Business Plan" in which he talks about what he thinks good education is.
  • Marco Polo, a University English teacher in Japan, writes about his struggles in encouraging his students to take charge of their own learning and become autonomous learners.

Seminar Members

Other Classes

  • This is a class blog of adult migrants in Sydney, Australia. The blog contains links to other members' blogs. If you would like to learn more about these ESL learners who have moved to Australia, check out their blogs. What have they been talking about?

This week, I would like you to look at the other blogs you have on bloglines and see what people are writing about. Write some comments if you wish, I am sure the other bloggers would be very happy to read your comments. Also, based on what you have read, I would like you to write your own blogging entry by October 24.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Teacher Trainees Writing about English Education in Japan

Blogging about EFL in Japan
Seven aspiring teachers in a Research Methodologies in English Education seminar are blogging. We all live in the prefecture of Iwate in Japan. Some of the students aspire to be elementary school teachers, some junior high school teachers, and others are perhaps undecided. They have begun blogging about issues in education in Japan that concern them, their teaching experiences, or anything else they wish to discuss! Their pages and recent blogging topics are described below:

The Juniors: Teacher Training
In September Eri-chan, Ayu, Cube, and Gami underwent 3 weeks of teacher training. They were so busy that they could not write in their blogs! The 3 week teacher training program is very intensive but they survived. Please go to their blogs and read about theit experience. Anyone interested in elementary school education in Japan should read Ayu and Eri Chan's blog. Anoyone interested in junior high school English education should read Cube and Gami's blog. I learned a lot from watching their classes. For example, Eri-chan did a class on how to wash your hands for first graders. I realized that in my 30 years, I had never washed my hands the right way! Yuck!

The Seniors: Their Graduate Papers
Bonsai, Hope, and YuS (pronounced "U.S.") have created their blogs. These three are writing their graduate papers and all deal with the topic of how to make English education in Japan better. Hope, is writing about the future of English education in elementary schools; Bonsai is investigating the roles of ALTs and homeroom teachers in elementary school and will offer suggestions as to how the two can work together to make better class; Lastly, YuS is investigating why students in junior high school and high school lose interest in English.

URL for JALT Presentation

Last week I talked about my blogging project with my English Teaching Methodologies III course at the JALT conference. Below is the link to the content of my presentation. Thanks to everyone who came and participated in the discussion!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Good and Bad Discussion Topics for English Class

The other day, I taught an English class at a junior high school. To show how to use the auxiliary "does" I had students ask each other what their favorite television show was and then had pairs team up and ask questions to the interviewers about the interviewee's answers ex. "Does so and so like __?" The activity did not go well as well as I would have liked. My experience in Japan is that quite often students do not like to talk about themselves. These questions are not deeply personal; sample topics are "what is your favorite school lunch?, what is your favorite television show? what do you usually eat for breakfast?". My experience has been that students are more interested in doing information gap activities where the information they share is about a fictitious person or factual information. Has anyone had any similar experiences or is this just me?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

EFL at Primary School through High School in Japan

Updated October 6
Seven aspiring teachers in a Research Methodologies in English Education seminar are blogging. We live in Northern Japan. Some of the students aspire to be elementary school teachers, some junior high school teachers, and others are perhaps undecided. Come October 8, they will begin blogging about issues in education in Japan that concern them, their teaching experiences, or anything else they wish to discuss! Their pages are listed below:

This course will end in January, 2006 for Bonsai, Hope, and YuS but will continue into next fall for the remaining students.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

MMCE Facilitator's Handbook

Welcome to the English Teacher Discussion Forum. This is a blog I use for another class but it will now also be used for MMCE! This post is for the Facilitator's Portfolio I created for a "class" called the "Meeting of Multicultural Educators." The objective of the portfolio is for me to one 1) consider how a strong curriculum can be built for this learning experience and 2) serve as a resource of ideas for other practioners to try and improve on. If you have looked at the portfolio and have any thing you would like to say. Please write a comment to this post.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Teaching Reading

Last week in class we discussed how to teach reading. I would like to ask current teachers and my students the following questions.

For teachers with experience teaching reading: What methods have you used to teach English reading before and why did you select such methods?

For aspiring teachers with no experience teaching reading: What methods do you think would be useful when teaching English reading? Why would you select such methods?

Please submit a comment by Wednesday, July 27.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Which do you think is better???

There are two ways to teach grammar.

★One way is to explain the rules and have students practice the rules. This is calles "deductive approach".

: When you want to say about a singular form of the three person, you put "-s" at the ending of verbs. But there are some verbs to put "-es" and some verbs to change different forms.
① like ⇒ likes (put "~s")
play ⇒plays
② watch ⇒ watches (put "~es")
③ have ⇒ has (different forms)

T: Let's practice !!!                                                                             
Fill in the blanks.
1, I like baseball. ⇒ He ___ baseball.
2, I watch TV everyday. ⇒ She ____ TV everyday.
3, I have a little rabbit. ⇒ Shin ____ a little rabbit.

★The other way is to show the picture or example sentenses and have them notice the rules. This is called "inductive approach".

: I would like you to find the rules from the following sentenses.

1,I like baseball.
2, We have a party.
3,They study English.
4,She plays the piano.
5,He likes red.
6,Mike eats breakfast every morning.

C: I think that when the subject is "I" , "we" and "they", we don't need to do anythig. But when the subject is "he", "she" and someone's name, we put "~s" or "~es" or change into the different forms.

T: Yes, that's right.
When the subject is a singular third person, we need to put "~s" or "~es" or change it to the different words, but we don't need to change forms in others.

Which method do you use???  BY  SNIFFLES!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Should Teachers Call on Shy Students?

A theme of our class has been how/whether teachers should call on encourage shy students to participate actively in the class through calling on them, doing skits, or presentations. One student, Gami, noted in her blog that speaking/presentation activities such as "Reader's Theatre" can be difficult when there are shy students in the class. Thus, teachers should think carefully before trying such activities.

In her blog, she writes
"I think many of students like to do movement , but there are not only positive and cheerful students but also negative and quiet students in the classes . When I attended "Reader's theater" , one of real junior high school teacher told us that there are students who do not speak in the class . There are many kinds of students , and I think to use this way is very difficult for teachers . I want to try to use this way , but I want to pay attention to students' character at first . "

Another student, Tomi , takes a slightly different stance. He wrote the following in his blog

"I think it's better English teacher call on shy student. Probably, most of students have some occasions that they must present something in front of many peple in the future. Actually, I have many such occasions since I enterd the university, so if the teacher leave shy student alone in the class, though he/she might be good temporarily, he/she will have a problem in the future."

Lastly, an English teacher from Brazil, Bee wrote as a comment in my blog that, for the most part, her students really enjoy doing presentations and she also talked about her techniques for calling on volunteers.

I would like to ask this question to current teachers:

How do you handle students in your classroom who are reluctant to speak?

A Student Teacher's Training Experience

This is from a graduate student at the univertsity. He did teacher training last year and taught at a Junior High School. This is his reflection on teaching Unit 4 in New Horizon English Course 3. He talks about some of the successes he had and some of the mistakes he made. Lastly, he talks about what the ultimate goals of his lessons were. I think that this essay will be very good for anybody about to start their teacher-training. Please read this and write a comment to the author, he would appreciate it!

To readers especially who are going to start teacher-training from this fall,

This is my analysis of Unit 4 in New Horizon English Course 3 (U4 in NH3, for short) and my opinion about teaching English at school. They are based on both my success and failure during my teacher-training last year, so I’m very happy if this helps you prepare teacher-training and if I receive any comment.

1 My Analysis of U4
(GOAL) According to pp.0-1 of NH3, the communicative goal of U4 is to learn how the students make themselves understood in English, using gestures, pictures, or easier words. Also, they will learn some useful expressions such as ‘Could you speak more slowly?’ ‘What does … mean?’ All these are very practical in communication, so learning them will contribute to building of the basis of the students’ practical communicative competence.
(GRAMMAR) New grammatical items in U4 are ‘how to’ and ‘it-for-to.’ Before teaching them, it may be good for the students to review functions of to-infinitives they have learned in the previous year. It will make them less confused about new grammars with those already learned, and help their understanding.
(TEXT) Text of U4 is set up from the viewpoint of culture. The students will not only deepen their understanding of Rakugo, but realize its value accepted even in foreign countries. Furthermore, they will understand differences in behavior at restaurants between Japan and America.

2 Mistakes in My Classroom
(1) At first, time control was the most difficult for me. I took too much time for pattern practice, so I had no time to have the students do the communicative activity. Using flash cards and doing pattern practice quickly are very difficult for beginners. Rapidity is important. I recommend you to see carefully how your instructor does pattern practice.
(2) In my open class, I said “Ato, ippun ne (One more minute),” “Hai, yame (OK, time’s up)” in Japanese while the students were speaking English in the communicative activity. At the meeting of the class some teachers advised me to use “classroom English.” Classroom English is very useful in teaching English, and I think it makes good atmosphere of English classroom and encourages the students to speak English.

3 Successes in My Classroom
(1) In my open class, the students learned speaking and writing with ‘it-for-to’ structure and listening to the text including the structure. For example, they learned speaking by having interview about what was difficult/easy/fun/important for them with their classmates, and then writing by writing sentences based on the information they got in their interview. After I had some of them present the sentences they wrote, they listened to the next in Dialog and tried True/False quizzes to check their comprehension. I think the class becomes interesting and useful for the students if it aims at various kinds of communicative skills.
(2) I challenged making some teaching materials. For example, I made original dialog for teaching ‘it-for-to’ structure and its meaning, because in the introduction of my open class, I want to use easier and more meaningful dialog than in the textbook. I also drew some pictures describing actions ‘get up at six’ ‘study math’ ‘play a video game’ and ‘sing together,’ which were used in the following interview, in order for the students to understand these actions easily. Using visuals are very helpful for them to understand English vocabularies, but please remember not to take much time to make them without thinking your teaching plan well.

4 Through Your Classes, What Do You Want to Tell Your Students?
This is a question which my instructor actually asked me during teacher-training. My answer was, “The most important thing in school days is to understand more about classmates. I really want the students to make friends with them. I don’t want them to get satisfied with unimportant, surface relationship among them.” So I always kept this in my mind when I planned communicative activities. What’s your wish for students you will face soon in your teacher-training? Please remember your school life and observe students, and then think about this question.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Talk to Current English Teachers

Hi, I have made this blog so that the aspiring EFL teachers in my English Teaching Methodologies III class can talk to current English teachers. Every week, I will try to invite current English teachers to talk about their work.

This week's topic is:
★☆"What do you like the most and what do you like the least about teaching English?"  ★☆

Dear teachers,
To answer this question, please add a comment to this post.