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!
  • 6. A dog! Look! More than one… DOGS!

    Page 7 of Learning World Book 3 reminds students of the plural “s” for animal names, as well as introduce new plural forms for animal names that are an exception to the rule: “mouse… mice”, “goose… geese” and “sheep… sheep”.

    matthew--1   bk3 text


    For a long time I hadn’t really thought about when in English we actually use the plural form for animals aside from as vocabulary for “I like …” However recently the SPRINGBOARD Level 5 book “Kangaroos” gave me some inspiration.


    The story inside the book gives some basic facts about kangaroos:

    “Kangaroos have a pouch.”

    “Kangaroos have a strong tail.”

    “Kangaroos can hop.”

    “Kangaroos eat grass.”

    matthew--2    matthew--3


    Using this book as a base, I wondered if my class of 5th graders (minimum of 3 years experience and currently on LW Bk3) would enjoy brainstorming and writing some basic facts about the animals on page 7.

    In class, after reading “Kangaroos” together, they decided that:


    “Dogs can run”, “Dogs can jump”, “Dogs like balls” and “Dogs like running”.


    With class time coming to a close, I asked them to complete “Cats”, “Pigs”, “Mice” and “Geese” for homework. When they presented me with their completed homework the following week, I was very surprised at their ideas:

    matthew--4←Click to enlarge


    “Cats eat nori” is this student’s personal observation of his family pet.

    His idea “Sheep don’t like dogs” is inspired by another SPRINGBOARD story “Pet Dogs and Working Dogs” (Level 6).

    The source of his idea “Mice eat grass” is unknown, but it’s an idea he insists is factual.


    matthew--5←Click to enlarge

    This student’s English has in this photo not yet been corrected, but her idea “Geese have teeth” is based on a search on the Internet. I wasn’t aware that geese had teeth!

    Expanding a textbook idea to the point where students’ originality can surprise you is actually quite nice, isn’t it?

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