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!
  • 53. Halloween 2019

    With Christmas just around the corner, it’s rather a strange time of year to be writing about Halloween… but I’ve been wanting to share something with you since October.

    Like most English schools in Japan I guess, the pre-school I teach at has a Halloween Week every year. The kids swing through the emotions of fear and fun dressed as skeletons, vampires, princesses, game characters and more in an orange and black decorated classroom with ghosts, spiders and jack-o-lanterns adorning the walls.

    As an English teacher, I often struggle with ideas for Halloween lessons because the English for this festival is quite vocabulary-based and there’s only so much you can do.

    This year I decided to introduce my Ss to the concept of “overcoming fear”.

    First of all Ss and I brainstormed all the things you that scare us. We came up with a fairly long list:

    I searched for pictures of each item on the list and prepared one for each S. I also prepared matching English using APRICOT Flashcard Maker Checksheets.

    Then on a white sheet of paper, I had Ss draw a large circle.

    Then came a discussion on times that we feel happy, and colors that represent Ss when they feel happy.
    Inside the circle on their paper I had Ss draw themselves “inside their happy color”.

    Once this was done, I had Ss color the space around their “happy color circle” in black.
    From the scary pictures, I had Ss select their Top 8, and their corresponding English. These pictures and the English were glued in the black space around their “happy color circle”.

    I then had Ss practice the English “I am scared of….” with the vocabulary they had chosen.

    Then finally I told Ss “Whenever you feel scared of anything, just picture yourself inside your “happy color”. This idea comes from a personal belief of “extending your aura” at times of fear. I had prepared a slip of paper with the English: “In my happy color, I am not scared. I am totally fine” and had Ss glue it to their picture, after which they practiced for individual presentation.

    Halloween is over, but by all means feel free to try this idea next year.


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