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!
  • 54. 10 Useful Pieces of Advice for Teaching with LEARNING WORLD #9 & 10

    I was reminded recently that I hadn’t finished my comments and observations on Hiromi Kawahara’s “10 Useful Pieces of Advice for Teaching with LEARNING WORLD”.


    1. Focus on your own vision!
    2. Communication activities are a must!
    3. Don’t skip over the self-expression activities.
    4. Evaluate your lesson on how successful each student feels.
    5. A Textbook is not everything!
    6. Importance of reviewing
    7. Make students use English
    8. Respect individuality!
    9. Do not fear to show your weaknesses!
    10. I’m right – and you’re right too.


    So, here are my brief thoughts for the final two:


    9. Do not fear to show your weaknesses!

    If a teacher doesn’t say “I don’t know” occasionally, then the students won’t know that “I don’t know” is a possible and acceptable answer. Don’t be a know-it-all teacher.


    It goes without saying that of all the things teachers show their Ss, probably the most important is honesty. “I don’t know” is of course OK for teachers to say to Ss. Teachers shouldn’t need to feel that they have a responsibility to share “knowledge” with Ss anyway.

    In class, the teacher is not the teacher; the experiences that teachers provide for Ss are the teachers.


    10. I’m right – and you’re right too.

    Sometimes teachers have to deal with unexpected responses from students. However, students feel proud of themselves when their answers are accepted. And they can grow and develop from that feeling.

    “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself” is a golden rule. Teachers need to learn about students and from students continuously.


    When you are as interested in student output as I am, then any idea from Ss is a good idea. We shouldn’t be overly concerned with our Ss’ “correct answers”. We should be interested in evidence of “good thinking” from them. Their daily life at school provides Ss with ample opportunities to give right answers. As their after-school teachers, we should focus on giving Ss opportunities to create and present original ideas. Original ideas don’t need to be assessed, they need to be accepted as such.


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