Teachers' Questions: No Japanese in class?

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Q: Hey there! I'd like to hear more about the idea of using English as much as possible in the classroom. Personally I back up new phrases with Japanese and repetitions in English along with gestures/Teachers`cards etc. However I have heard of people who don't use Japanese at all. How is it done? - Kathy, Japan

Teaching with just English is possible, you just need a lot more time. It's basically a case of acting things out more and making sure the target English is really easy to understand. I used to do a skit for new JETs where I'd teach a game in "martian" to show them that even something like the Gokiburi game can be done this way.

But just because it can be, doesn't really mean it should be done! The Berlitz schools teach like this and many experts in Japan claim this to be the best way, that the kids should listen to English in an "English shower" and suddenly become fluent. The problem is that if you don't shower every day you end up stinking pretty bad!

In reality, with the time that we have in the classroom it just doesn't work, the kids just end up getting confused and the homeroom teachers start giving mistranslations. We had this discussion on the forum a while ago and someone came up with "use as less Japanese as possible, but as much as necessary" and I really agree with that. In the beginning Japanese is essential for building a relationship with the kids, confidence building, making sure they understand more difficult structures and for explaining games. The less time you take explaining a game, the more time the kids have to speak, and that's what it's all about really!

Then as you move on you can gradually change more of the Japanese to English. For example in the warm up, introduce words such as "make groups", "pick a leader", "come to the front" etc. which you can then use in the games. Think about which games you'd like to teach in the future and introduce the phrases needed in previous lessons. Hopefully then after quite a few lessons, most of it will be in English!

(also see "How much English to use?")

If you have a question then please send it in! Or if you have any comments or additions to the above messages, then please send those in as well!

Or for more questions, have a look at the main Teachers' Questions Page.

Be genki,


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