English Teacher Training (No Longer Being Updated)

This blog was designed for my English Teaching Methodologies class in Japan. The course has ended but anyone who is interested about using blogs in teacher training ot education in general is encouraged to explore this site. We used the blog to exchange opinions about the course content, provide each other feedback on our practice teaching, and talk to current teachers. To see a blog that is currently active, please go to the English Teacher Discussion Forum.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

New Blogging Headquarters and New Bloggers!

This semester I will be blogging with these fine people to the left.
They are all majoring in English education and happen to be my advisees. We will be discussing issues concerning education in Japan. This week, they have been writing about the teaching practicum the undertook last month. Our blogging headquarters have changed to the following page.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


My latest entry was inundated by 6 comments from spammers so I deleted it. Please do not leave spam on this blog. This blog is for people interested in teaching English and nothing else.

Status of this Blog: A Response to AJ/Skald

I received the following comment from AJ/Skald, an English teacher in Thailand:

"Great blog... are your students blogs the ones on the right sidebar? Ill try to encourage my students to investigate them and post comments. "

My Answer
The blogs for the students in my course, English Teaching Methodologies, are to the right. The students are currently on summer vacation and also doing their teaching practices so they are probably not checking their blogs right now. Furthermore, the course has ended. However, at least 4 of these students will continue their blogs in a seminar that they take with me this semester. In mid-September/ late September I will update the bloglist to the right and show the blogs of only those students who will continue to use them.

My Reflection on KMKM's Lesson

KMKM, You were all very charasmatic and the characters you made were hilarious! We all really enjoyed your lesson and I thought your interview activity and "Check Test" were very well done! Nevertheless, Naim seemed to struggle on both activities. Why did he struggle? I explained at length in my comment on Team Y's lesson that Naim did not understand the word "is". Also, I thought that when you practiced the numbers you were a little fast. Although a number of Japanese children can count to 10 before even starting Jr. High School English, Naim was learning 10 new words for the first time! I remember learning to count to 10 in Japanese and it took me 4 days of constant practice and drilling by a friend! Naim needed a little more time to practice saying the numbers. One idea is you can do choral practice (合唱練習) once or twice, then you can have the students practice saying the numbers in pairs for a few minutes, lastly you can call on individual students to say the numbers. I think we all learned a lot from watching your lesson. Not only did we get a lot of good ideas but I think that we all learned the importance of slowing down the pace in introducing new material. Thank you and have a nice weekend.

Friday, July 01, 2005

My Reflection of Team Y's Lesson

Team Y,
On the whole I thought you lesson was well organized and very imaginative. I thought that you did a very good job with making the content of the textbook interesting! That is no easy task! I congratulate you for a good lesson and you all should be satisfied with their effort.

This lesson was very challenging to teach because the content was difficult for Naim (He told me to call him Naim and he does not need the "san".) He seemed to have trouble with the activity that you planned. The activity you planned was very good and interesting. The reason that Naim struggled was not the activity itself.
I think that Naim became a little confused when you introduced the material. First, when you started your skit, you did not tell Naim to page 22. I think it would have helped him to see the text. Next, I think you should have gone over the meaning of the sentences and explained the grammar a little bit. As I will explain below, Naim did not understand that "is" is a verb. Lastly, when introducing the New Words to Naim, you asked him "What does this mean?" This is fine, but you also could have written the sentence on the board and clearly told him that "What does this mean?" = "dou iiu imi desuka?"

I think it was also necessary to review the grammar. Today, I met with Naim and we went over the content of the textbook. I realized that he did not understand the verb "to be", so we studied that together for a while. His native language has the same structure as Japanese (ex. "Kochira ha Naim desu"), so the structure of English is quite confusing to him. I also have a feeling that his language does not conjugate verbs like English does and that his language does not have singular and plural like English thus. So it is necessary to focus his attention on gramatical forms.

Today, to explain the be verb, I showed him a lot of examples.

1) I'm Naim.
watashi ha Naim desu.

2) You are Yukari.
Anata ha Yukari desu.

3) This is Naim.
Kochira ha Naim desu.

4) That is Iwate University.
Sore ha Iwate daigaku desu.

I asked home to tell me the first sentence in Japanese. I explained to him than I'm is not watashi ha but is "watashi ha ~ desu".

We then translated each word to Japanese "I am Naim" "Watashi ha desu Naim".

He understood that the structure of English was different. I then asked him to guess the meanings of sentences 2, 3, + 4. He was confused about the meaning of "is" and "are". I told him they mean "desu". I also told him "shugo ni yotte doushi no katachi ga kawarimasu" but he did not understand me. The reason he did not understand was either my terrible Japanese or that maybe he is not familiar with Japanese grammatical terms. I think both can probably explain the reason he did not understand. He also did not understand the term "Ms." nor the difference between "Mr." "Ms." and "Mrs." He was quite surprised to learn the difference.

I think that in our next lesson with Naim san we should introduce the material much more SLOWLY and when teaching him new grammar compare it to the previous grammar (For example, comparing I'm, She is, This is, and you are.)

Anyway, again Team Y, you did a good job and I hope that you learned something about teaching from your lesson!

Thanks for your effort!

Friday, June 24, 2005

My Reflection on Last Week's Lesson

A lot of teaching consists of making spontaneous decisions in the classroom based on the students' reactions. Yesterday, I presented to you the following activity.

Please choose a response to the sentences below. Each response only has one answer:
1. Does he know? a. I’ve told him twice.
2. Why are you annoyed? b. I have told him twice.
3. Shall we go? c. That's David Bowie.
4. Why aren’t you ready yet? d. That is David Bowie.
5. Who’s that? e. I am ready.
6. Is David Bowie here? f. Yes, I'm ready.

The answers (I believe) are1. a 2. b 3. f 4.e 5. c 6. d
(Take from Lewis, M & J. Hill. (1992). Practical Techniques for Language Teaching. England: Language Teaching Publications.

I think the reason why this activity did not go well was in the spontaneous decisions that I made. The purpose of this exercise was to show you that grammar (language) learning can be fun when students are allowed to explore what the answers are for themselves. This activity did not go as smoothly as I would have liked because when it seemed that you were struggling I intervened and did not allow you to explore. Rather, I called on individuals to answer the questions.
To make the exercise fun and interesting this is what I should have done:
I should have given you more time to explore and I should have asked you to work on this in groups. I also should have asked you to say why you believed your answer to be so and to give an example of a situation where you would answer in such a way. For 1 and 2 as well as 5 and 6 I believe that the answers can change depending on what kind of situation the untterance is spoken in.

Since we did not have much time and I had a lot of activities to introduce to you, I hurried through the above activity. In retrospect, I should not have hurried through it.

One more problem, I was tired and became confused myself as to what the correct answers were for 5 and 6. After a good night's sleep, the answers to 5 and 6 made sense. However, the answers can change depending on the situation of the utterance. I realized that getting a good night's sleep is almost as important for a lesson as lesson preparation.

Two Tasks for Next Week

Task 1:

In your blog please write which of the Key Points for teaching grammar, ideas for introducing new grammar, ideas for practicing new grammar, and ideas for communicative activities were useful and why you thought so. Also, please write which ideas you did not think were useful and why you thought so.
Please have this done by Wednesday, June 29, 5:00 PM.
I will write my own reflection of last week's lesson in my next entry.

Task 2

I have started a new group blog called http://discussenglish.blogspot.com/ .

As this is a group blog, anyone who is a member can make a post. You all should have received an e-mail asking if you would like to become a member of this blog and telling you how to register. Please say yes and register!

In my first post, I have asked current English teachers to answer the following question:
What about being an English teacher do you like the most and what do you like the least?

The teachers will answer the question as a comment to the first post. I would like you to write responses to the English teachers' answers as a comment.

Please have this done by Wednesday, June 29, 5:00 PM.

Also, if you have any other questions you would like to ask the English teachers please make a new post (投稿). As a member of the group blog, you are allowed to make posts.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Pitching to Daddy

Masato Pitching to Daddy
Originally uploaded by gandai.
I played some baseball over the weekend with my son.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

How to write Reflections for DHC2 and Team A's lessons

Today, we had two very good lessons from DHC2 and Team A.

For DHC2 and Team A,

Please make 2 entries in your blog. One entry should be a reflection on your lesson. The other entry should be about the other group's lesson you observed. Like before, please write about what you particularly liked about the other group's lessons and also suggestions for an even better lesson next time.

For Everyone Else,

Please make 2 entries. One entry should be for your comments on DHC2's lesson and the other should be your comments on Team A's lessons. Like before, I would like you to write about what you particularly liked about the other groups' lessons and also give suggestions for an even better lesson next time.

The blogs for members of Team A are:
http://nyanji.blogspot.com/, http://ayu-ayu015.blogspot.com/ , http://centerof-ricefield.blogspot.com/ and http://tommy-tomitomi.blogspot.com/

The Blogs for Members of DHC2 are:
http://guwashi.blogspot.com/ , http://blogtogether.blogspot.com , http://sachishihakata.blogspot.com , http://popppo.blogspot.com/ , http://mrthousandvolt.blogspot.com/

I have written my comments of the two lessons below:

Team A's lesson


I think that your lesson was solid from start to finish. Below I will go into more detail:

Good Points ★
  • I really liked the sequencing: You started with a warm-up, you reviewed what Mr. Abdoreim studied last time, you introduced the new material in an inductive way, you practiced the new material, and lastly you had a writing activity to consolidate everything that you had studied for the day. I think your lesson had a good mix of writing, listening and speaking.
  • During your introduction of the new material your English was clear and very easy to understand and the visuals you used throughout your lesson were great!
  • You also seemed to have a lot of energy and your enthusiam made us enthusiastic!
  • Lastly, Mr. Abdoreim understood the difference between "This" and "That" and was able to use both words in a sentence.
Sugestions for an even Better Lesson ★
  • In the junior high school textbook they introduce a functional use for "This is" and "That is". In the textbook, students use "This is" and "That is" when they show Ms. Green their school. For example "This is our library" and "This is our classroom" etc. In the textbooks, "This is" is also used to introduce other people. For example "This is Ms. Green." "Oh, hello, Ms. Green. Nice to meet you." With Mr. Abdoreim, you mostly used sentences like "This is an eraser"., "This is a dog" etc. I think next time you should consider teaching some functional uses of "This is" like giving a tour of your school or introducing someone else.
  • When you called on a row of students to practice this is and that is, you had students say "That is ..." for any object on the back wall of the classroom and students say "This is" for any object on the front wall irrespective of their actual distance to the wall. This made the difference between "this is" and "that is" a little confusing. Here is an idea you can use next time. Hold a ball and say "This is a ball". Throw the ball to a student and point to the ball and say "That is a ball." Have the student say "This is a ball" and throw the ball to another student saying aftwards "That is a ball". This is one possible way to practice the pronunciation of "This" and "That" while learning the difference.
  • I think you had a lot of good practice but it would have been nice to have more real communication activies. One possible communication activity is to have the students describe the contents of the knapsacks "This is my pen" "This is my Michael Jackson picture" etc. Another possible activity is to have students introduce their friends to other students.
  • Lastly, Mr. Abdoreim thought that This is ~ meant "kore ha" rather that "kore ha ~ desu." Perhaps a brief grammatical explanation after your introduction of the new material might have helped him realize the meaning.

Well, I enjoyed your lesson very much and I think we all learned a lot from it!

DHC2 "Do you have a pen"

DHC2 in Action

The second you lesson began, I thought that it was going to be very entertaining and I was right!

★ Good Points
  • Your dialogue was fantastic! It was funny and it was easy to understand the Meaning of "Do you~" "Yes I do" "No I don't".
  • The volume of your voice was very good!
  • Although this lesson was for Ms. Yoshida and not Mr. Abdoreim, Mr. Abdoreim also seemed to understand very well!
  • Pronunciation practice was well coordinated.
  • Your visuals were fantastic. Please save them and use them again!
  • Your practice activity and game were fun and made good practice of the target structure.

★ Suggestions for an Even Better Lesson

  • During pronuciation practice, everyone was repeating after Keita. After a while, the repetition became a little redundant. I think that next time the teacher, after practicing a few times the teacher can point to the picture and have only the students say the word.
  • During pronunication practice, it might have been nice to call on individual students to say a word rather than having the practive be choral the whole time.
  • "Do you like a cake?" should be "Do you like cake". No article is necessary. I will explain why in class.
  • During the Karuta game you told people to make groups but you did not say how many people in a group (or did you?).
  • Although the Karuta game was fun, you might want to try the following idea next time: The student who picks up a card first (for example, let's say the card is tennis) is asked "Do you play tennis" by the group. The student then answers "Yes I do." or "No I don't". You can also call on individual winners to answer the question in front of the class.
  • The class was good practice for speaking and listening, but I think you should have also had a little writing. Classes should have a mixture of speaking, reading, listening, and writing.
  • There was a lot of practice of "Do you~" but very few communicative activities. The function given for "Do you ~ " in the textbook is to interview people. Next time, you might want to design some activity where students have to interview each other and find out some authentic information.

Well, like Team A, you did a great job. I really enjoyed your lesson and keep up the good work!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Should English teachers call on shy students?

Last Saturday in your comments on the strength's and weaknesses of Reader's Theatre and a few weeks ago when you all critiqued my vocabulary teaching techniques, I noticed a common theme. Quite a few people wrote that the weak points of students acting out their class reading in front of class or a teacher using actual students to introduce new vocabulary (example: look at Naomi, she has LONG hair and Takeshi has SHORT hair) is that shy students will not like such activities. I was wondering do you think a teacher should encourage shy students to speak in front of the class or do you think that English teachers should just leave shy students alone? Why? If you think that English teachers should encouarge shy students to speak in front of the class, how can a teacher do this?

The above questions are optional. You DO NOT HAVE TO ANSWER THEM but I think your opinions would be very helpful for me, current English teachers, and aspiring English teachers.

Have a nice weekend!