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I have been teaching English to kids in Japan for more than 20 years: public elementary schools in Tokyo for 11 years, and Hello Kids Komazawa for the last 9. For 3 years I have been teaching weekly lessons to students at Tsutsujigaoka Kindergarten. As I tend to stay at the same workplace for a long time, I've been able to see the long-term results of my work. Being able to really see children's English communication ability grow has been very rewarding. I mainly use APRICOT materials in my classroom. They best suit my goal of having students use as much English as possible while developing confidence and self-esteem. I enjoy teaching development, and I love discussing English education with other teachers!
  • e-APRICOT
  • 23. LEARNING WORLD Autumn Workshop 2016

    Well, the first of three Autumn LEARNING WORLD Workshops happened on Sunday in Osaka. It followed a rather busy Saturday with my family joining more than a thousand other people for a 5km charity run around the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, raising funds for research into a cure for breast cancer.

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    Understandably the kids were tired and a bit grumpy by the time we arrived in Osaka.

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    It was great seeing so many familiar faces at the workshop. New faces were there too of course, but there is room for plenty more! Please recommend the LEARNING WORLD Workshop to all teachers you know who are interested in self-development!

     

    It was nice this year to be able to share the floor with Kawahara-sensei and Nakamoto-sensei – both of whom are in my personal Top 4 most influential educators.

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    My presentation dealt with the importance of students’ oral presentation, and included ideas from each LW text in order to bring them to that point. I included some video footage from several of my classes. I hope everybody who attended was able to take home something useful!!

     

    Immediately following the Workshop was the Osaka APRICOT Mates Meeting. Here again Kawahara-sensei, Nakamoto-sensei and I each gave a short presentation. Mine dealt with creating situations in the classroom to generate more student output. Again, I sincerely hope that the participants were able to find it valuable!

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    The Tokyo Workshop is coming up this weekend (12/4), and the Nagoya Workshop will be next week (12/11). I believe registration is still open, so if you haven’t done it yet, please do it today!

     

    See you there!

    19. The LEARNING WORLD Teacher Development Meeting

    2160828-1Teacher Development Meeting last Sunday was productive and fun. A total of seven teachers in all, representing schools in Chiba, Kawasaki, Tokyo and Nagano. The venue was my classroom at Hello Kids in Komazawa.

     

     

    We discussed these issues:
    - Songs and chants from the WELCOME series. How manageable were they for our students in terms of speed and challenge level?
    – Student motivation during Book 3.
    – Homework stamp, “Blue stickers vs Gold stickers”
    – Positive reinforcers: stickers, points, praise, game-time etc.

     

    It’s interesting how we teachers sometimes feel the value of actions we take in the classroom, but at the same time feel a sense of “perhaps in the long-term, it may not necessarily be good…”

    Stickers or a point-system for “good behavior” in the classroom is a case in point. While we sometimes use them to encourage positive behavior, it can possibly lead to students expecting something EVERY time they behave positively.

     

    Later in the session I had a short activity idea from Book 3 to present, as well as individual student work to show.
    All in all it was a great afternoon of teaching development.

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    Now, arguably the biggest dates of the year are coming up! Be sure to pen them into your schedule:

     

    November 27th: LEARNING WORLD WORKSHOP Osaka

    December 4th: LEARNING WORLD WORKSHOP Tokyo

    December 11th: LEARNING WORLD WORKSHOP Nagoya  ⇒ Click here!

     

    It’s honor and a pleasure to be sharing presentation time this year at these workshops with Kawahara-sensei and Nakamoto-sensei!

    I look forward to seeing you there!

    15. Yesterday’s seminar

    A Bridge to the Future!

     

    Who else made themselves available to attend the Tokyo English Education Innovation Seminar yesterday? Wasn’t it fantastic?!!

    Nakamoto-sensei’s presented the first glimpses inside two important new APRICOT releases due out in the Spring of next year: “Learning World Bk.4: BRIDGE” and “Learning World Bk.6: the FUTURE”.
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    BRIDGE” will replace the current “CHANTS for Grammar” publication and become an official part of the Learning World Series.

    The FUTURE” will become the final book of the series, after a revised (and renamed) “Learning World Bk 5: Tomorrow”.

    The new additions to the Learning World line-up will complete a 10-year Learning World curriculum that has I believe the potential to completely shake up and wake up the education of English in this country.

     

    Again Nakamoto-sensei has demonstrated a profound insight to the very real needs of Japanese youth and their unproductive relationship with the English language and study of it.

    She has met these needs with astounding creativity. The examples and text excerpts shown at yesterday’s presentation were more than enough to have those of us in attendance feel that our students were in for some really exciting times ahead…! It was the kind of material that you couldn’t wait to get your hands on. It was the kind of material that you could imagine your students getting thoroughly involved in. It was the kind of material that you wished APRICOT would miraculously make available for ALL of us TODAY, RIGHT NOW because our classes TOTALLY need it NEXT WEEK!!!

     

    One new and very exciting feature of “The FUTURE” is the DVD. A total of 20 short videos are in the pipeline, and lessons are planned around them. The example video shown was very professionally put together – a mini-documentary with genuine authenticity but with easy application in the classroom too. It was not surprising to learn that Kawahara-sensei was behind its production because only she is able to manage that kind of balance.

     

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    Look, if you weren’t able to get along to the Seminar yesterday, there will be more opportunities to attend in the coming weeks as it makes its way around the country.
    Please get to one! You’ll be really surprised, really inspired, and really wish next year was now!

     

    14. How to use a worksheet one line…

    The new year has well and truly started. I imagine we are all back teaching at page 1 of each of Learning World’s textbooks, right? I hope the Learning World Workshops in March proved valuable to you as you and your students begin the new year!

    Here is a very uninteresting-looking worksheet that I created just before the Spring break. It was designed for students on LW Book 3.

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    Although uninteresting-looking, this worksheet in fact became quite effective for:

    1. inputting new vocabulary related to adjectives (hot → the hottest, small → the smallest, beautiful → the most beautiful etc.)
    2. having students create their own sentences based on this vocabulary.

     

    As the worksheet doesn’t appear to make much sense, it’s better to present it to students revealing one line at a time. Use construction paper. Present the top line first:

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    Encourage students to generate possible answers.

    My students initially suggested “Christmas”.

    After I reminded them that there are 12 months in the year, they suggested “last”.

    Have students write “last”.

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    Have students color “December”, “last”, “month” and “year” using 4 different colors.

    My students chose orange, blue, green and yellow:

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    Have students reveal the next line:

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    Have students color this word.

    After some discussion, my students agreed that if “last” was blue, then “first” was probably blue too.

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    Have students read aloud “December is the last month of the year”. Students will soon produce “January is the first month of the year”.

    Have them write it:

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    Have students color this English too.

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    Have students to reveal the next line:

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    There is understandable confusion when “c______” is revealed.

    Hint to your students that this word is blue.

    My students immediately guessed cold”, and straight away wrote “February is the cold month of the year”.

    With the students themselves suggesting “February”, inputting the concept of “coldest” becomes simple.

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    Now it’s time to apply this concept to other adjectives…

     

    Have students reveal the next line:

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    February is the coldest month of the year”, so your students will have understandable confusion about what to do with the word “mountain”.

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    Ask your students to color it.

    A little thought and discussion among themselves will have them agree that the word mountain is not comfortable at the start of the sentence, so cannot be orange; nor is it good at the end, so cannot be yellow; nor is it an adjective, so cannot be blue. It can really only be green.

    With mountaingreen, your students will soon suggestMt. Fujias orange. With Mt. Fuji orange, they will soon suggest Japan as yellow. Now they need an adjective for blue English. Input “high” if needed, and have students apply “highest”.

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    Once this English is colored, students can reveal the next line:

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    With the words mountain and the world revealed, your students will soon produce Mt. Everest is the highest mountain in the world”.

     

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    The next line reveals the word “river”.

    Now, before this point, each answer was largely decided. From here students can exercise more freedom of expression.

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    My students chose “The Amazon River” as orange English, and as a result the blue English became “longest” and the yellow English became “the world”. However if the students choose “Japan” as the yellow English, then the orange English becomes “Shinanogawa”. Alternatively, a change to the blue English will create different orange and yellow English. Perhaps a quiz with your students can become a good reason to input new adjectives:

     

    “Ayasegawa (Tokyo)  is the _______________ river in Japan” (dirtiest)
    “Amedakegawa (Hokkaido) is the ____________ river in Japan” (cleanest/ most beautiful)

    [⇒Source: http://matome.naver.jp/odai/2134598023082342201]

     

    “Tazawako is the ___________ lake in Japan” (deepest)

    [⇒Source: http://www.tabi2ikitai.com/geography/j0102a/a01006.html]

     

    For homework, I gave the following worksheet to my students:

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    You can imagine how disappointed they were to discover that they weren’t able to choose any of the colored English for #3!! They quickly learned however that the word “not” goes very nicely after the word “is”!

    13. Thank you for coming to the Learning World WORKSHOPS!

    It was really, really good seeing so many teachers at the recent Learning World Workshops in Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo.

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    IMG_1193  Nagoya 3/6

     

    IMG_1319  Tokyo 3/13

     

    As a presenter, it’s exciting to see new faces. I always hope that new teachers can relate to the issues we bring to our Workshops, and can take home perhaps a new angle of looking at their teaching. If it was your first time to attend an APRICOT Workshop, I say thank you for coming, I hope you found it worthwhile, and I hope to see you again!

    And as a presenter it’s of course also encouraging to see familiar faces. It tells me that teachers are indeed finding value at our Workshops, and are returning for more. If it was not your first time to attend an APRICOT Workshop, I say thank you for coming again, I hope you’re not tired of me presenting, and I definitely hope to see you again!

    Thank you especially if your attendance at one of the Workshops involved a lot of travel. I understand that more than twenty teachers used the bullet train, and a few even arrived by plane! Your commitment of time and money to study reflects your commitment to your students. I think your students should give YOU a sticker!!

     

    This year’s topic was a tough one - but a very important one, and one that has really been in want of discussion. The process of having our students attain the skill of reading can be frustrating for both teachers and students. However, if the teacher has a sound educational policy in place, if the students’ learning environment is stable, and if certain objectives are set and met with appropriate materials, students can find significant success with reading in a reasonable amount of time. My presentation at the Workshops attempted to show this.

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    Thank you for your patience with the venue’s cramped conditions.

    Thank you for your patience with occasional technical difficulties.

    Thank you for your patience with my battle to stay properly time-managed!

     

    Thank you for your written feedback. It means a lot to me, and APRICOT too of course. It lets us know that if we are making a positive difference for you and your students or not. Essentially, that’s what we want the Workshops to do. That’s what the Workshops need to do. Please know that the Learning World Workshops are YOUR workshops. Not one single Workshop will always satisfy everybody’s needs, as everybody’s teaching situations can differ widely. But your input in the form of inquiries to APRICOT is useful and welcome! Your inquiries help APRICOT understand where your concerns are, and these form the basis for Workshops.

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    If you weren’t able to join this year’s Learning World Workshops, please join us next year! Whether I’m presenting again or not next year, I hope to see everybody there!!

    Thank you again!

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