Arashi Powerpoint

A lot of people wrote in and said they enjoyed the last powerpoint about teaching how to add “er” to adjectives, so I thought I’d share one more version for teaching “er” comparison adjective. This one is prepared by a different JTE I worked with in Yamagata City.

Level: JHS 2nd Grade

Time: 10 minutes or less

Powerpoint Presentation – Comparing using “er” adjectives – Click to download

Why this powerpoint is great

  • Short, simple and uses the appeal of a Japanese pop group to get students interested in the lesson
Download the powerpoint above and modify it for your purposes.

Teaching – “er” adjectives

Here’s another great powerpoint presentation. This time the powerpoint comes from a teacher I work with. It shows students how to make comparisons by attaching “er” to adjectives (e.g. bigger, taller, faster, etc.).

Time: about 15 or 20 minutes

Level: 2nd grade JHS

Which is stronger, Godzilla or King Kong?

In the book there is a pretty interesting story to work with involving King Kong and Godzilla. But I think this powerpoint can make this lesson more interactive and interesting for the students. Download the powerpoint below and check it out for yourself:

DOWNLOAD: Let’s Compare! – Powerpoint

Why this powerpoint is good 

  • It compares internationl landmarks, raising student awareness about the rest of the world
  • It is presented in a quiz-show style so students can enjoy the thrill of guessing and discovery
  • There is a section at the end where students can personalize the learning point by choosing between two things (e.g. math and English) and using the grammar to tell others about their preferences.


  • The powerpoint uses Japanese translations for all the sentences — something which may be helpful to students. I have a feeling, though, that given the right class, it could be done without it.

Teaching What’s that? What’s this?

You may remember this idea from last year’s Mid-Year Seminar in Tendo City. This is an activity for first grade JHS classes adapted from Ryan Hagglund at My English School.

Ryan’s idea was to create a real situation for using the phrase “What’s this/that?” in as natural a way as possible. The solution was to present a very strange image that demands explanation, tell the students to use the key pharase “What’s that?!?”, then wisper the answer into the ear of any student that uses the key phrase. Presented right, without much of an explanation, you’ll have a room full of kids shouting “What’s that?!? What’s that?!?” as loud as they can.

I have come up with a slight variation on this presenation that works well with team-teaching as well as a simple game for the students to play to consolidate the lesson. It involves drawing frustratingly badly drawn pictures on the board.  Paired with the lesson from the New Horizon 2nd year text book, it makes for a very interactive and enjoyable lesson.

The Procedure:

Time: about 10 minutes per activity/game, ~3o minutes altogether.

Level: JHS 1st grade and elementary 5th or 6th if simplified.

  • Write the key phrase “What’s that?” on the board in big letters. Check the meaning of the phrase quickly and tell the students that it is the “KEY PHRASE” today.
  • Then tell the students that you and the JTE are going to draw pictures on the board, but that you are very bad at drawing. Take about 5 seconds and draw a picture like this on the board:

Is it a hippo? A toupee? A sandwich?

  • Wait for the collective “Eeeeeeee!!” To die down as the students try to figure out what to do next. Then when the first student figures out to use the key phrase and says “What’s that?”, run over to him or her and whisper the answer in their ear. Repeat with other students that shout “What’s that?!?” until everyone in the class has figured out that this picture is in fact an elephant.
  • Return to the board and point at the picture. Say “What’s this?” and have the students shout the answer as a class: “IT’S A ELEPHANT!”
  • Switch off with the JTE until each of you have drawn about 2 indecipherable pictures on the board and gone through the same procedure as before.
  • Afterward, practice saying the two phrases with the students and explain the difference quickly if necessary.
TIP: Whether the class is large or small it is good if you get the students to get into table groups of 3 to 6 depending on the size of the class. For various reasons it makes the presentation more fun, easy and effective.

Now for the Game and changing to “What’s this?”

Now that the students have learned the phrase “What’s that?” and used it in a very realistic way, they can play two mini-games where they get a chance to draw pictures for themselves and use the phrase “What’s this?” in a similar context.

  • Have students form pairs and hand out small slips of paper about the size of a 3×5 card.
  • Tell students that they will have 10 seconds to draw a picture for their partner. Both students will draw a picture at the same time. Make sure to count fast because the point is to rush them so that they will draw very bad pictures, too. You’ll be surprised at the intricate masterpieces they are capable of drawing if given a proper 10 seconds, thereby obviating the need for the question.
  • Explain that they will exchange pictures and play janken. The winner starts the mini-dialogue, which looks like this:
Student A: Excuse me, what’s this? (pointing at the picture)
Student B: It’s a _______.
Student A: Oh, I see…
Student B: Excuse me, what’s this? (pointing at the picture)
Student A: It’s a _______.
Student B: Oh, I see…
  • Have students repeat this mini-game with their partner about 2-3 times.
  • You can walk around the classroom while the students are playing and ask the students “What’s this?” while pointing at their picture to give them a bit of extra practice while waiting for other pairs to finish.
  • Since students are only given about 5 seconds to draw a picture, before  you say “GO!” and start counting down from 10 you may want to ask the students “Idea. Okay?” or something else that is simple and easy to understand.
Note: “It’s a ____” and “Oh, I see” are very good to use in this dialogue because the first year JHS students will have just learned these phrases in the textbook.

Game 2

After the students have finished drawing pictures and exchanging with their partners they can now get up, walk around the room and practice this same dialogue with many different friends. The rules are similar to the last game with this 1 variation:

  • When they exchange the card with their friend after playing Janken, they hold onto the card. That way they are using new cards each time rather than the old ones they created.


I used this idea today with these 2 games in a 1st year class. They really enjoyed it. At the end of the class, when they were practicing reading from the book I had a girl come up to me, point at a word she didn’t know how to pronounce and say “Excuse me, what’s this?” The JTE saw it and was so happy that she used this phrase (admittedly in a way that we hadn’t mentioned) that he shared the experience with the other Japanese teachers throughout the day. I think the leap that this girl was able to make in understanding how to use this phrase is a testament to how effective this strategy is for teaching how to use these two phrases. I think any one of these activities would be a good warm-game for a class to be used any time after the original lesson is taught. Please share your comments if you have any.

My rendition of a "panda bear", which really drives my students nuts

Teaching Directions with Ichiro Suzuki

Check out the instructional video on how to use this presentation then download the powerpoints below.


More Free Materials!

Click on the links to download the powerpoint and use it with your class! Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Ichiros Bad Day – Powerpoint Presentation

Ichiros Bad Day – Shortened for reviewing the slideshow

Script for the first part of the presentation

UPDATE: Activity for after the presentation:

Partner Activity

This is a pair-work activity for consolidating the lesson. Students work together to write an original skit based off of the phrases learned in this lesson. After preparing the skit, students can memorize it and perform it in front of the ALT and JTE for a reward. Students have the choice of three preset locations, or they can create an original location for themselves.

UPDATE: Extra Tips for making this lesson succesful:

  • When teaching students the directions (‘go down this street’, etc.) encourage the students to use gestures. With the gestures and animation it is possible to teach this entire presentation with little reference to Japanese!!
  • Before students are asked to give Ichiro the directions to the stadium, give them 5 or 7 minutes to try to memorize the phrases on the screen. While they are memorizing the phrases, walk around and check on their progress. After the time is up get a few students to stand up and give the directions to Ichiro before the class gives the instructions together.

Come on! — Getting students to speak English in a Loud Voice

Knowing that classes are most fun and useful when students have the confidence to repeat modeled sentences in a loud voice, I have been experimenting over the months with different techniques to encourage students to speak English in a loud voice. This is a technique I adapted from a teacher I know. I have been using it with junior high school students with the best results in first grade classes. Check out the audio file below to see the amazing effect this technique has on students:


Tips on getting this trick to work:

1) Have students repeat the word or phrase twice before shouting “Come on!” to encourage them to shout the word or phrase as loud as they can.

2) A good reaction to their loud response is key. The reaction might be genuine if the students truly knock you over with a loud chorus, but if you have a sort of falling over reaction when they shout the phrase at you, the students can laugh and enjoy this activity a bit more.

Note: Believe it or not, in this example it was the first time I tried this technique on the class. I’ve found that I don’t even have to explain to the students what I want (i.e. for them to shout the word/phrase as loud as they can). I just sort of jump into it and use a beckoning gesture when I shout “come on!” and the students seem to clearly understand my expectations. It’s amazing how simple this technique is considering how big of a result you can get from the students.

What is English Passport?

The Front Cover of An English Passport

English Passport is an idea you have probably heard of before. It is a booklet you can give to each student that allows them to collect stickers or stamps for completing speaking and writing activities in English. I have done English passport for several years at my JHS and I want to share my thoughts on what works and what doesn’t. There is a lot of flexibility about how the passport can be used.

The first passport I made in 2009 looked like this:

English Passport c. 2009

This version was based largely on the model presented to us at Tokyo Orientation. Even though the “memorization” and “recitation” sections (where students would either have to memorize or recite a passage from an English book or letter) proved burdensome and ineffective in my opinion, the project was a great success in the first year, with almost every 3rd grade student receiving several stamps and over 30 students completing the entire passport book. First and second year students were understandably wary about using the passport and we didn’t get as many participants from those grades.

Later I learned that the English Passport was primarily successful because the 3rd grade English teachers made participation in English Passport a part of the students’ final grade. The following year, even when the prizes were increased and the activities were simplified, without this primary motivation, far less students participated in the project.

This is a screenshot from what the passport looked like in 2010-2011:

Inside the 2010-2011 English Passport

As you can see from the picture, the 4 English activities were reduced to 2 — simply speaking and writing. Students got a stamp in one of these two categories for writing a letter to me or visiting my desk in the teacher’s room for a short English conversation. I added an extra degree of complexity to the passport by giving students the opportunity to collect “Travel Stamps” on the right hand page. If they collected 5 stamps for the speaking or writing category, they would receive a special stamp from “visiting” a place from around the world, such as England, Athens, Greece, or San Francisco. The more “travel stamps” they collected, the more prizes they were eligible for. The students who completed the entire passport (only about 5 in one year) received a special prize and were awarded a certificate of completion in front of their classes. The column below the speaking and writing challenge boxes were for collecting stickers that students received for one thing or another.

Tips for Success

  • Even though the second year of English passport was easier and far more interesting in my opinion, it wasn’t as successful because the teachers did not make participation in the program a part of the students’ final grade. So I think that this is key.
  • Keep the speaking and writing challenges easy and allow students to perform the speaking challenge whenever there is free time in the hallways or teacher’s room. Although I made the challenges easier the second year, because I limited the time to when I was in the teacher’s room, many students complained that they never had time to participate in the project even though they wanted to.
  • I think that this level of English Passport is good for 3rd year students especially, and it can be useful for second year students if you constantly encourage them to use their passports. For 1st year students, participating is understandably daunting. You can still give them passports to include them in the project, but you might consider making a modified version with other challenges to make it easier on them.

Free Materials!

Click here to download the inside template (PDF)

Click here to download this template (PDF)

Click to download passport stamps (PDF)

Go Fish!

Make your own custom playing cards for teaching English!

Before a visit to a elementary school a couple weeks ago I had an incredible idea: Why not use the children’s game “Go Fish!” to teach a useful expression in English? As  you probably remember from your own elementary days, the game involves using the phrase “Do you have any~”. Not only is this a fun and simple game but this phrase can be used in many situations to gain useful information in the real world. For exmample:

When meeting someone for the first time: “Do you have any sisters/brothers/cats/etc.?”

When at a store: “Do you have any English books?”

When at a restaurant: “Do you have any sushi?”

If you have never heard of “Go Fish” before follow this link to read about the rules. I want to spend the rest of the time writing about how I made the cards and how I presented this lesson to elementary 6th graders and junior high school 7th graders.

Lesson Plan:

I chose 9 words to focus on for the lesson: Brother, Sister, Apple, CD, Banana, Cat, Dog, Cherry and Candy. The words, “brother, sister, cat and dog” were especially important because combined with the key phrase “Do you have any~” they give the students a really great question to get to know people they meet for the first time, like new ALTs. I threw in words like apple and banana, knowing the kids were already comfortable with them to take some pressure off of memorizing new words, since the real point of the class is to get the students using the phrase “Do you have any~?”.

After introducing these words and playing a game to help the kids remember them, we put on a short drama for the students using the key phrase and asking them about what the phrase means. After drilling the phrase, we handed out 5 cards to each student, and had them walk around, playing Janken. The winner of Janken would get to ask for a card (e.g “Do you have any dogs?”) and if the fellow student had that card, they had to hand it over. After about 5 minutes, students returned to their seats and counted their cards. The students with the most cards won the round and we played again if the students were enjoying themselves.

This game was a warm up for the game of “Go Fish.” When the kids were ready, they got into groups of 5-6 and proceeded to play “Go Fish” for the rest of class.

How to make the cards:

Making 6 decks of cards with custom pictures and a reverse side like the original Hoyle playing cards took me about 4 hours to make, spread out between two days. Only I and one other teacher worked on the cards, so labor time can be cut-down if you can convince other teachers to do some cutting for you. But this is the basic way I made the cards:

1) Make a photocopy of the back of a Hoyle card - 9 cards per sheet X 24 sheets for 6 decks of 36 cards.

2) Trace 9 cards on a sheet of paper to draw a custom picture on

3) Draw 9 custom picture for each card, depending on what vocabulary you'd like to teach. Print out 24 copies.

4) Cut out all the cards and glue the Hoyle backs to the custom fronts. Organize them into piles so you have 4 of each card in each deck. Option: Make a blown up copy of each card for flash card purposes


This game has been well received at all the schools I have visited. I have used it at four elementary schools and two junior high schools. I don’t visit elementary schools so often, so I have re-used the game multiple times on return visits by popular demand. The lesson can be broken into multiple days where the Janken game is played on the first day, allowing the students to review and “graduate” into the game of “Go Fish!”. At the end of the lessons, I have done several things, one being a “lesson consolidation” where I have the teacher interview me about my brothers, sisters, cats, ect. using the key phrase. By the end of the lesson it is very easy for the students to understand the entire interview and learn about me entirely in English. It is a big confidence boost for the students because they can see that they have actually learned something useful and that they can understand a conversation in a completely different language.

If you would like to try this activity at your school, send an email to eliotc1986 [at] gmail [dot] com and I can send you the data files for making the cards.