Matthew's Classroom

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!
  • 34. This Year’s LEARNING WORLD Workshop!!

    The LEARNING WORLD Workshop is a great opportunity to increase your understanding and application of the LEARNING WORLD textbooks. But it’s also much more. It’s an opportunity for us all to increase our understanding of our own teaching. Because we are so busy throughout the year, we rarely get the chance to analyse our teaching approach and our actions in the classroom.

    If you enjoy teaching, you should really attend the LEARNING WORLD Workshop.
    If you DON’T enjoy teaching, you should really attend the LEARNING WORLD Workshop!

    Incidentally, on the Workshop application form, APRICOT asks “Why have you applied for this year’s Workshop?” Most of the answers on applications received so far are summarized here:


    I want to start an English classroom so I want to know about materials.

    There are several things to consider when selecting materials for a new school. Perhaps the most important one is “What kind of result do I want my students at my new school to achieve, and what do I want them to become?” Definitely expect this to be addressed at the Workshop!


    Because I want to know the flow of upper-elementary students’ lessons. To what level can I bring them?

    Upper-elementary school students make for very interesting students. Their changing attitudes to study (of not just English) marks a need for adjustment in our attitudes to them. The learning experiences we can bring them can be very rewarding!


    Because I want ideas on how to teach Book 4 and Book 5.


    〇中学生にBook4Book 5を使う予定があるので!
    Because I plan to have my JH students use Book 4 & Book 5.

    LEARNING WORLD Books 4 & 5 are new (or revised) additions to the APRICOT catalogue. They will definitely be given attention at the Workshop.


    Because I attend every year.


    Because the last Workshop and the one previous to that was good.

    Those teachers who answered this way didn’t have any specific requests. They indicated that their attendance at previous LEARNING WORLD Workshops was beneficial.
    I agree!

    The Workshop brings many issues of the English classroom to the fore. It allows us to reflect on most aspects of our teaching, and can be very eye-opening!

    So if this is your first attendance at a LEARNING WORLD Workshop, please look forward to it! I’m confident you will enjoy it.
    If this is not your first LEARNING WORLD Workshop, it’s going to be great to see you again! Please look forward to it! I’m confident you will enjoy it again.


    If you haven’t yet applied, come on! Do it now!!


    ⇒⇒Event details





    24.Hello 2017!



    Thank you for reading my blog entries. This year again I hope you can find something useful here for your teaching!


    2016 was for me personally a year of opportunity for growth, and this year I’m looking forward to taking on new challenges, particularly in the area of our students’ writing skills. Up to now, my approach to the instruction of writing has been rather haphazard, and I’ve been feeling a need to think about it more deeply. Kawahara-sensei’s presentation at the APRICOT Mates Meetings late last year brought home the urgency of this. The future holds many challenges for our students, not least of which is the importance of being able to be expressive and creative in writing. I’ve been of course aware of this for some time, but priority had always gone to oral communication activities. This year I’m going to take the issue into the classroom seriously.

      at APRICOT Mate Meeting in TOKYO  IMG_2981[1]IMG_2914[1] Guest: Mr Dario Toda


    APRICOT will be releasing some exciting new titles this year: “Learning World BRIDGE”, “Learning World TOMORROW (Revised) and “Learning World FUTURE”. I’m sure all of us are looking forward to getting these into the hands of our students! I know APRICOT staff are committed to getting them out by Spring, but I sincerely hope they don’t neglect their need for sleep and good health in their enthusiasm to meet this deadline!!


    Less than a month has passed since the last Learning World Workshops, and already APRICOT is thinking about the next series for the Spring. It’s looking likely that again I’ll be presenting something. I’m totally OK with this – if you are all OK too. If you’ve never attended a LW Workshop, definitely come along! I’m sure you’ll find it valuable. If you’ve attended before, come along again! And bring a teacher-friend! It’s always good meeting teachers interested in self-development.


    Again, Happy New Year! I hope your winter break was relaxing, and like me you are ready and motivated for your students and the challenges they bring!

    Come on, 2017! Bring it on!!



    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.




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



    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.





    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!

    Mate lecture1127



    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.


    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”.
    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.




    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!


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