Teaching a simple phrase and vocabulary review (1-6 grade, adaptable activity)
Name of Teacher: Jonathon Allred
Class/Grade/Language Level: Elementary School Grades 1-6
Textbook and specific lesson: Can be used with Eigo Note (Hi, Friends!) when appropriate
Goal: To teach a simple phrase like “Do you like ~~?” and check to see whether students remember vocabulary
Preparation: 2 fly swatters or similar objects, flashcards you’ve prepared or the ones from Eigo Note (Hi, Friends!)
Class time: 45 minutes
It’s always good to get your students talking, so I normally spend the first 5 minutes of class doing greetings in English. If the Japanese teachers insist on doing their military-style greetings at the beginning of class, I usually try to convince the teacher to let me teach the kids how to start class in English. I normally have them say “Let’s start Jonathon time!” and then I greet them one-by-one (asking their name and how they are) because I have small classes.
- I spend the next 5 minutes singing a song to get the students excited. My students like singing the “Hello Song” from Eigo Note because I taught them the gestures from the book and I have them sing in pairs. At the end of each verse the students high five each other with both hands and say “yay!” “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” is also a favorite if you change the pace frequently while singing.
- Once the kids sit down, I tell them what we are going to study and then introduce flashcards. One lesson that seems to go well is animals from the ALT’s home country. Simply teaching “dog,” “cat,” “rabbit,” etc is alright, but I find it a little dull myself and I like seeing the students’ reaction when they see animals they may have never seen before. First I have students repeat after me as a class, and then I like to quiz them individually, since I have smaller classes. Before playing a game, I like to post the flashcards on the board and do a chant. Increasing and decreasing the pace of the chant, and changing the pitch of one’s voice help to keep the chant interesting for the students (not to mention the ALT). I usually ask the HRT to bang a tambourine or clap his or her hands to keep the class in rhythm. All of this takes about 10 or 15 minutes.
- Finally, it’s time for the game. One game I have found particularly popular with students is one I learned teaching kids at the library over the summer. I’m not really sure what to call it, but in my head it’s the “waddle to the board” game. Basically, you post all your vocabulary flashcards on the board. Divide the class into two teams and assign them each a mascot, such as Mario, AKB48, Arashi, Pikachu, etc (pictures help). Keep score on the board. Determine the order of each team by numbering them off. Have the first two students stand in the back of the classroom facing the blackboard, and give each one a fly swatter. Have the remaining students sit on the floor, leaving open a wide aisle in the middle of the classroom. Teach the class the phrase “Do you like (insert animal name)?” When they ask you, you will answer “Yes, I do” or “No, I don’t.” Teach the two students standing in the back that they must not run to the board, but instead, when they hear you say “Yes, I do,” they must make their way to the board in a certain way. For example, you could have them waddle like a penguin, crouch and walk sideways like a crab, or hop like a frog. The first one to touch the appropriate card with the fly swatter wins a point for his or her team. If they both touch the card simultaneously, have them do rock, paper, scissors. If the ALT responds “No, I don’t” to the students’ question, then the two students at the back must repeat the name of the animal asked about. This game takes a bit of explanation, but I think it is worth it because my students seem to really love playing it.
- This game can be modified to fit many different lessons. For example, take Lesson 6 from Eigo Note 1. Instead of “Do you like ~~?” have the seated students ask “What do you want?” or “What do you like?” Determine a category in advance, such as instruments. If you answer the students’ question with an object in this category (“I want a guitar)”, then the two students in the back come forward, but if you say a vegetable or a electronic item, the students at the back simply repeat the item you said.
- If there is time left over at the end of class, I review the vocabulary (particularly the words students had trouble remembering) and then have the students say “Class is over,” “Thank you,” and “Goodbye.”
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