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!
  • 51. English-Uplift 1-Day Seminars

    You know, I thoroughly enjoy teacher workshops and seminars. I love attending them, and I love presenting at them. I’ve always felt that working WITH other teachers, analyzing our teaching together, discussing the “why” behind classroom activities, and sharing and developing ideas is healthy, inspiring, and good fun. I am forever grateful to APRICOT for giving me the opportunity to be a regular presenter at its workshops. I love and cherish the relationship I have with this company, and I am thrilled that they too continue to enjoy working with me!


    Of course though, everybody needs a break every now and then, and that’s me right now with the LW Workshop. It’s just a break, and it’s just temporary. This year, Kierryn-Sensei is taking the wheel. I think he’s going to be fantastic, and I can’t wait! Yes, I’m definitely going to attend, and I strongly recommend ALL teachers attend!!
    APRICOT and I both fully intend to maintain our support for each other because of our mutual interest in improving kids’ English education in Japan.


    My break from presenter responsibilities has given me time to create a Yosei-Koza together with Kawahara Hiromi-Sensei, and we are both very, very proud of the excellent results coming out of this Course from the teachers who have attended so far. The growth experienced by these teachers has been extraordinary. The changes that have taken place in their classrooms as a result of taking our Course has been amazing. Students’ parents have been astounded at the changes taking place in students. The happiness Hiromi-Sensei and I feel from this is indescribable.
    We are promoting this Course through a series of English-Uplift 1-day seminars in Tokyo and Osaka. Please come along! Attending does NOT in any way oblige you to sign up for the Course. We are simply offering teachers the chance to get a taste of what we are doing in the Course.


    The seminars will let teachers know:

    1. how to increase the amount of English students use in the classroom

    2. how to decrease the amount of Japanese students use in the classroom

    3. how to implement the 4C’s of education (Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Creativity) in the classroom


    All in all, whether you’re interested in our Yosei-Koza or not, these Seminars are going to be very informative, inspiring and incredibly fun. So please come! You will love it!
    For more information, please click here!

    次世代型こども英語講師養成講座 LINE学習プログラム【無料版】-type2


    APRICOT aren’t taking any enquiries regarding these Seminars because APRICOT is not directly involved. APRICOT has however, as usual, been supportive of our endeavors, and I’m always grateful for their kindness. We will be working together directly again at a workshop or perhaps even in a different format in the near future!

    Everybody, enjoy the rest of the summer, and we’ll see you either at an English-Uplift 1-Day Seminar or the LEARNING WORLD Workshop – or both!

    50. READY Workbook – vocabulary copying activity

    The feeling of success students feel with English often depends on the challenge level of the material they are using. If material is “too easy”, students’ motivation may suffer. If material is “too hard”, students’ self-esteem may suffer. While it’s not always easy to find this balance, I have found that, as a teacher, raising the challenge level of easy material is easier than simplifying difficult material.

    Consider page 7 in the READY Workbook, which is a black&white version of the textbook, page 10:


    (↑READY for Learning World WORKBOOK)

    (↑READY for Learning World Student book)


    You’ll notice that in the workbook students need to copy the vocabulary list. Copying is an important process within “writing practice”, but simply copying for the sake of copying doesn’t involve a lot of thinking nor does it particularly stimulate motivation. I recently wanted my class of three fifth/sixth graders to be more challenged.

    So I prepared an extra reading activity; small slips of paper with English to read with missing words. The missing words were items on the list of vocabulary.

    For example, “I can see the American ________” and “Tian comes to school by _____”


    *These three papers are all made using Penmanship.



    With their textbooks and workbooks open, students picked a slip of paper, read it, and decided what vocabulary item was missing. Then they copied it onto the slip of paper. This gave students not just an increased challenge, but also an important reason to copy the English, and not just copy for the sake of copying.

    By all means check the video. The same activity format can be presented to all the vocabulary copying pages in READY’s workbook.


    49. 10 Useful Pieces of Advice for Teaching with LEARNING WORLD #8
    This post will look at #8:
    8. Respect individuality!
    Each student has a unique character. Appraising a student should be compared with the student’s effort the previous week, not with other students’ effort.

    Teachers often compare their students, and in a way it’s understandable. We ask ourselves “If this student can do this task, why can’t this student?” and “These students can handle the activity, so why can’t these students?”

    It’s impossible to expect our Ss to manage aspects of our lessons in the same way. Kawahara-Sensei makes reference to “students’ effort”. In the classroom I very often try to incorporate activities that have students be recognized for the effort they make, regardless of the outcome.

    The video below is an example. The activity is inspired by LW Bk3 pg24.


    The students had not yet seen this page; it was an introductory lesson to it. The page was photocopied (one for each student) and the English was cut up into individual sentences. The students needed to read each of the sentences and put them together to make two stories. The resulting stories were not necessarily the same as the textbook but each warranted merit because there was possibility within each one, and each was based on individual effort.

    After the completion of the activity, textbooks were opened and students compared their story to that of pg24.

    48. 10 Useful Pieces of Advice for Teaching with LEARNING WORLD #7
    This post will look at #7:
    7. Make students use English
    Students are the ones who need to use English, not just the teacher. Teachers need to create an atmosphere where kids can speak in English without hesitating to make mistakes. If they cannot use English in the classroom, neither will they use it outside the classroom.
    What a shame that something so obvious needs to be pointed out. And it needs very much to be pointed out because sadly, the majority of English teachers in Japan are not clear on what “using English” actually is.
    In classrooms all over this wonderful country, students of English are “saying” English in the form of textbook dialogues, chants, speeches, vocabulary lists and reading passages. Many students indeed, having successfully memorized it, can produce this English without looking at its written form. Their teachers are usually pleased with their students’ performance of this English, and the students score highly on the speaking component of their assessment.
    This however is not using English. In the classroom, students who say the English of their textbooks, or who repeat after their teacher are in a process of “practicing” English. This is totally different to the process of “using” English. People use language when they produce what they want to say, or what they need to say, or is in accordance with the situation they find themselves in and is relevant to the people they are talking with. Unfortunately, these conditions rarely exist for Japanese students in the language classroom.
    For too long Japan has used Japanese to teach students English they cannot use.
    Kawahara-sensei suggests that “Teachers need to create an atmosphere where kids can speak without hesitating to make mistakes”. This atmosphere can be created if:
    1. teachers use English.
    2. students are placed in situations that require them to speak.
    3. teachers accept and show appreciation of students’ ideas and efforts.
    4. teachers don’t over-correct students’ efforts.

    Below is a short video example of students using English during an arts & craft activity. The two students are upper elementary school students, and studying with LW Bk3. Most of the expressions they use in this video have been inputed throughout the year(s), during classroom situations that have specifically needed them.

    Your students, and my students, will not be in our classrooms forever. Eventually they will be required to use English outside the classroom. Having them use English NOW will go a long way to having them succeed with the language in the future.


    47. 10 Useful Pieces of Advice for Teaching with LEARNING WORLD #6

    This post will look at #6:

    6. Importance of Reviewing

    Even if students think that they remember what they have learned, it is natural to forget. Do not get stuck with ideas like “I taught this already!” or “I have done this before!”


    Yes, our students have a responsibility to try and remember the content of our lessons. But we should acknowledge that it’s probably not possible to remember everything. So we should review the important content regularly.

    It’s important during times of review that we don’t lose sight of the purpose of review. Always keep in mind that we are trying to establish how much of previous lesson content our students remember. So avoid reteaching the entire previous lesson, or giving away too much vital information. Vital information should be elicited from students, not actually given by us.

    Often, a small number of students will remember specific previous lesson content, while the rest of the class will have mostly forgotten. The students who do remember will quite likely have also remembered to complete previous week homework assignments, so credit these students accordingly and inform other students that they are more likely to remember previous lesson content if they complete homework!

    I often review content in different ways depending on the content.



    The Chants in Learning World are reviewed with the CD, playing the chant’s introduction drum beat only, stopping just before the chant starts. Students then need to continue alone, without the CD. This will tell me exactly how much they remember.


    Using the CD, I play the first line of a dialogue only, then pause the CD for the students to continue it. This is similar to the way I review Chants.


    Vocabulary items (in the “Words” section) are reviewed by playing the CD and carefully pausing it on each word’s very first sound! If students have done their homework, then having them recall vocab items in this way should be quite easy, but it’s not easy for those students who haven’t done their homework! So in this way you can very quickly know which students looked at this content during the week between lessons.


    Yes, we musn’t overlook review! Reviewing is important for students because remembering content can help build their confidence. Remembering content can remind students of a purpose to their studies.

    My next entry is coming soon, and it will look at #7:
    7. Make students use English

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