What do you think is Mottainai?

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Name of Teacher: Sam Tuza
Class/Grade/Language Level: Senior High School 1st grade, low-medium academic level
Textbook and specific lesson: What do you think is Mottainai?
Goal: Practice speaking about what you think about something
Preparation: 1-2 hours
Class time: 50 minutes


1. Greeting – Ask the students how they are in English, ask a few of them some basic questions like what they did this weekend, or what they watched on tv last night, etc. Should only take a few minutes for this. Asking the students “whats up” is usually a good one, as well.

2. Practice new vocabulary – For some of the lessons I do in class that require a lot of new vocabulary, I will give the students sets of vocabulary cards with the English on the front and the Japanese on the back. Students quiz each other in pairs, going from English to Japanese, and then Japanese to English. Sometimes in groups they also play a short game of karuta, if we have a lot of time.

3. Imagination Fireworks – One useful thing I found in my textbook was an idea called “Imagination Fireworks.” It’s a really silly name, but it has proven pretty useful in my class for getting students to talk about what they think about something. For this lesson in particular, the subject was “What do you think is ‘Mottainai?’” So I give the students a worksheet with 2 3x3 grids on it. In the middle space is the question that they should be answering, and the outside 8 spaces are where they write their answers to the question. In this case, 1 grid is “What do you think is Mottainai?” and the other is “What can we do about it?” I fill in one or two of the spaces just to help them get started. This is usually done by themselves or in pairs. The answers are usually from the vocabulary that we just practiced.

4. Pair work – Students get into groups of 4 or 5, and as a group discuss what they wrote down. 1 student should ask “What do you think is Mottainai?” and other students answer “I think that ~ is Mottainai.” Then ask “What can we do about it?” and answer accordingly.