Workshop Materials

Thank you for attending our workshop. Here is a breakdown of our presentation with downloadable materials.

Anie’s Ideas (Focus: Pop Culture)

Here are some examples of famous Japanese stars I like to use. Using their names and pictures on worksheets allow students to bring an emotional context to the English they learn because of what they already know about these celebrities.

Knowing about these pop culture icons helps you connect with your students and gives you something to talk about after class, too. Include references and pictures to them in class and in worksheets to pique students’ interest — or just to impress them.

*Pro-tip: don’t know what characters and celebrities your students like? Ask them about it on a worksheet and when you check their papers, take note of who and what they write. 

First off, make a giant bank of celebrity pictures that you can re-use. Saving them into a single word document saves time when you need it most. Look at some of the examples below to get some ideas of how I use western celebrities in class.

Here’s an example of using a celebrity most students know to teach grammar. Instead of model sentences with no meat or relevance, you can get them to make sentences about the celebrity. In this example, I ask students to “Tell me about Justin.” They can come up with sentences like, “The guitar is played by Justin” and so on in order to practice “passive voice.”

Here’s an example of a listening activity using some celebrity photos. Students try their hand at listening by guessing who likes what foods. At the same time they can practice using “he” and “she”. This lesson was about restaurants and food, but you can change the vocabulary to anything (e.g. months, winter sports, etc.).

The focus of this activity is speaking. Students practice using the phrase, “Did you use to…” by choosing a celebrity and then interviewing each other find out which celebrity their friend chose. By asking each other, “Did you use to have short hair?” and so on, they can narrow their friend’s choice down to one celebrity. When they have found their friend’s celebrity, they write the name in the box at the bottom left hand corner. This type of activity can be done with other target sentences, like can also be done with “have you ever…” and “can you”.

The writing projects are endless! A simple, but handy one is asking them to write about their favorite actor/character. I gave them a ‘problem’ using names of celebrities or characters, and they had to give them advice. In this case, they had to give relationship advice to these characters. They were practicing how to use “You need to…” and “Maybe you should…” Afterwards, we compared how many people thought what (i.e. who thought he should break up with her and who thought they should stay together). In my class, they were divided about what to do…

When all else fails… dress up like a character or celebrity and own it.

Elliott’s Ideas (Focus: Technology)

Idea 1: “Keep them Guessing”

Guessing is a practical teaching tool that activates students’ minds, gets them emotionally invested in a lesson and gets them engaged in the content of the lesson. Moreover, guessing shifts the conversation from “right” and “wrong” answers to what is possible. Check out some examples:

Write a date on the board and ask students to guess what it means. Holidays and birthdays are good.

Quick draw a picture and ask students to guess what it is. Works great in elementary schools.

Show them a photo like this and ask them to guess what comes next.

Show them a photo that defies explanation and ask them to explain what is going on…

There are many more examples, but the point is to bring pictures and other stimuli into the class that asks students to guess what comes next. An important part of this is allowing students to use English or Japanese and to have a short time to talk with their friends. The goal is activating the brain, but it’s also communication — no matter what language they use.

Idea 2: “Speaking Cards”

Research shows that students need to see their progress in order to stay motivated and continue learning. We do this at my school using communication and reading tests at the end of each term. A plus side to this is that it is generally a period where many ALTs have a lot of down time anyway, so it keeps us involved in teaching while students are wrapping up tests and other things for the term. The main goal of these tests is to increase motivation and show students that they can be understood by a native English speaker. Here is the data. Send me an email if you have a question: eliotc1986[at]gmail[dot]com.

Communication Check Cards (Microsoft Word doc)

Reading Check Cards (Microsoft Word doc)



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