Teach Students Survival Phrases With Zombies

sampleze3 These Survival English cards feature 3 original zombies and 5 survival phrases for your students to use in and out of the English classroom. sampleze2 They give students the power to find out new information by asking for the spellings and meanings of words through English. They also help students take their misunderstandings head-on by asking people to repeat what they said — or speak slower.sampleze1 Our zombies, “Frankie,” “Lazlo” and “Harold,” make these important phrases memorable and, oddly enough, bring their usage to life. Students can have a choice of which zombie card they get, or they can collect all three.

Download the free PDF

For ease of printing, the PDF is written in black and white. There are 9 cards per sheet, which means that you could print out 4 pages and have enough for an entire class of students. Hand them out at school or to your Japanese friends. These are 5 phrases that every English speaker must know.

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Illustrating the Differences Between “Fun”, “Exciting” & “Enjoy”

Today one of my co-workers asked me about the differences between these words because students often confuse them when trying to translate the word “tanoshii” from Japanese. I made this “learn by example” sheet, which uses simple example sentences to illustrate common ways we use these words.

preview of the pdf

the “w/out elliott” version below leaves blanks for you to fill in your own name and draw your own face in the third bubble.

Download the PDF for free (with Elliott)

Download the PDF for free (w/out Elliott)

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Make Speaking to your Students Easier with Eikaiwa Cards

Eikaiwa cards logo

Communication skills are needed now more than ever. Help your students build them with these easy to use cards.

I carry a pack of these eikaiwa cards with me everywhere. They are perfect for striking up conversations with students and getting them to learn communication skills.

On each card there are 5 questions related to a theme, like “comics,” “sports,” and so on. I have a student select a card and then I proceed to ask them the questions on the list, making variations as needed for skill level or coherence. When I’m finished, I can either give the card to the student as a collector’s item, or let the student ask me some questions.

There are three question packs with about 36 cards. Please download them today and start using them with your students.

Question Pack 1 (PDF)

Question Packs 2 (PDF)

Question Packs 3 (PDF)

Logo and Description (PDF) – Fixed

Preview: each card has a theme and 5 related questions. Ask the questions one-by-one or use them as a guide. Give the card to students when they are done.

Preview: each card has a theme and 5 related questions. Ask the questions one-by-one or use them as a guide. Give the card to students when they are done.

Using these cards gives students a chance to learn more English and practice speaking in more natural ways.

This sheet can be handed out to students trying Eikaiwa cards for the first time, or you can print them on the back of every card for quick reference.

This sheet can be handed out to students trying Eikaiwa cards for the first time, or you can print them on the back of every card for quick reference.

The quick description on this card, lets students know what Eikwaiwa Cards are all about and what to do when they don’t understand a question.

Make Games and Programs for your Students with iSpring

I wanted to introduce you to a fantastic piece of software I have been using over the past year. The software is called, iSpring. It allows you to create presentations in PowerPoint and then convert those presentations into flash and HTML animations, which can be used in class — or uploaded online for students at home.  It is my goal to deliver greater chances for students to interact with English and learn better communication skills. I belive language-learning software can successfully accomplish this. Normally creating software on this level would take years of schooling in computer programming and game development. But with this software, I am able to bring my ideas to life and directly to my students.

Here are two examples of the kind of games and software I have been able to create, using iSpring.

 1) Talk More! English: language software for students 


click on the image to try a demo

This software uses high-quality audio, pictures and animations which are brought to life with iSpring. I am able to take whatever target sentences I want and transform them into living conversations for students to access and review at home.

2) Zombie Ping-Pong

zombie English
click on the image to try a demo

This game uses ping-pong as a metaphor for communication, giving questions the power to drive the ball back and forth. Incorrect responses are signified by “dropping the ball” in the game.

The benefits of this software and these games to my students have been incredible. My students go home and practice English at home and come to me the next day telling me they used my software to teach their younger brother or sister English — or that they finally learned how to say something that just didn’t register for them with the textbook. The link between the work I do and the impact on students has been quite immediate. Using this software has given me the opportunity to make a difference with students and their exposure to English in ways never before imagined.

iSpring is really great for a lot of reasons but the top three reasons for me are as follows.

1)      High-quality audio and image conversions. The same crystal-clear integrity of audio and images I create in PowerPoint is preserved in the flash animations iSpring creates.

2)      Ease of use. The button for converting a presentation is streamlined into Microsoft PowerPoint so I can easily create flash whenever I’m ready. Once the file is finished converting, I can immediately upload it on a website or use it on my computer for class.

3)      Simplification and access to powerful tools. In the past, it would take hundreds of hours of studying computer programming and game design to create the kind of software I’m able to build in PowerPoint. This software opens the world of computer programming to people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

I hope that seeing this post will give you some inspiration for creating some software of your own. If you have any questions or you would like to contribute to this project please post your comments below.

More Catch Phrase Cards

CPC - Aye! 6

Another cool phrase for students to use when they’ve got bored of saying “yes” all the time. This one was suggested to me by a fellow Yamagata ALT who is from Scotland.

“How’s it going?” card 2 (PDF download)

“Oops!” card 3 (PDF download)

“I gotta go!” card 4 (PDF download)

“That’s too bad!” card 5 (PDF download)

“Aye!” card 6 (PDF download)

Got a catch phrase that you’d like to see made into a Catch Phrase Card? Comment below and share your ideas!

Catch Phrase Cards

CPC - Awesome 1

collectible cards with new words that don’t often appear in textbooks

Hand out these cards to your students in the hallway or after class to give them new catch phrases to use in English.

Key features: 1) quick translation of the target word. 2) quick description of the word in context. 3) each card is numbered, letting students know which cards they are missing.

Download a PDF of the first catch phrase card I made now: 

Catch Phrase 1: “Awesome!” (PDF Download)

Creative Ways to Use Paper Fortune Tellers

I remember my sister making these paper fortune tellers for us on a boring car rides or lazy days at home. They were always really fun to play with, especially if someone wrote some crazy things on the inside. That’s why it occurred to me that these paper fortune tellers could be used to help students practice English.


There are many ways to go about it. One is to go the traditional route and write simple fortunes like “You’re lucky!” or “You will be rich” on the inside flaps and go nuts with it in the hallways or after school.


The second approach is to write some easy English questions on the inside and use them to start conversations with students.

Now, let me tell you about where I’ve used these.

1. Before Class

Is it just me or is it always incredibly awkward to go up to shy students and try to spark a conversation that’s never meant to be? Now, if I bring one of these along I can easily approach students, using the strange origami things in my hands as an ice breaker.

2. During Class

I made 15 of these with questions inside the flap that all focused on the same sentence, “What’s your favorite~?” We taught the students how to use them and then let them walk around using the fortune teller as an interviewing device. We found that it was more fun if students handed off the fortune teller after each conversation, so that everyone got a chance to use it.

3. After school and during lunch break

Same as before class, it’s a lot easier to talk with students when students are distracted by this origami thing in your hands from all the pressure and anxiety of speaking English. I also found that the strange appearance of the fortune teller evoked was only matched by the strange curiosity students had for what it was.

Well, that’s it for this idea. If you want to know how to make one of these, please search “paper fortune tellers.” Using these fortune tellers students can brush up on English in more ways than one. Perhaps you’ll be surprised to find out how many of your students need to review the names of numbers and colors. Luckily, the intro of this game requires them to use them.