Page in Japanese

International Understanding:
Pet Project!

This is another cool project similar to the "School Lunch Exchange" project that is great for Elementary School "International Understanding" lessons or just for some cool English practice!

All this project involves is your students talking about their school pets and exchanging them with other schools! The trick is that instead of just writing, you exchange digital photos and audio files. If you were really into things you could try video conferencing using one of the video conferencing functions of Yahoo, AOL or MSN messenger.

Lesson Plan

1) In previous lessons review the English they'll need by using the "What's your name?", "Where are you from?", "How old are you?", and "Do you like?" songs. It's very important that the kids have mastered speaking and listening to these phrases before you start this project.

2) On the board you go through the things the students want to say about their animal. If it's the first time you do this, I'd stick to a standard script. You say the phrase in the kids' native language and they have to tell you the English. If this project continues for a couple of weeks, please feel free to add in any extras that the kids can think off! This way they won't just be learning the English we want them to learn, but they'll be learning the English they want to learn!

A standard script could be:

We're from XXX, in xxx (country)
This is our pet.
His/Her name is ________
He/She is _____ years old.
He/She is a (animal name)
He/She is (colours)
He/She likes (favourite food)

Very Easy!

In the Genki English songs the kids will have learnt "My name is" "I am..." etc., but it is a very easy jump for them to start using "He/She" etc. But do not start giving them a grammatical explanation or going through I/You/He/Them/They type boring lists (and make sure no other teachers do this either!!) - this will kill any interest straight away! Keep it simple and the kids will follow on quite naturally and keep the motivation high!

3) When you have the completed script on the board, practise saying it outloud as a class. Everything you write on the board will be in English (NO katakana!!) but even if the kids can't read, they can follow you as you read and eventually they'll get the whole thing.

4) Get out a video camera or a microphone and record the class saying the script. Claps and cheers at the end work wonders!

5)If you have time, go and take a digital picture of the pet. If there is no time, do it at school lunchtime!

6) Send off the photo, written words and speech (as an MP3 file to keep the size small) to an exchange school that you have found on and to me at Genki English so I can put it on the website for other schools to see!

7) Wait in anticipation for the replies to come back!!

In the next lesson you should have hopefully received some replies from the several schools that you contacted through You then enlarge the photo and put it on the board and play the audio message for your students to hear! It may take a few goes, but as it's been especially recorded for them they'll really want to listen and find out what's being said!

Kids really love their pets and other people's pets, so it's great to do an exchange like this, especially as it uses so much of the English they already know!

Once you've done one exchange, see if the kids would like to try it out with any other countries! As I mentioned above, if you're into the technical side of things, doing a video conference is even better ( get the kids to point the camera out of the window to see the time difference in action!)

Please try this out and please let me know how you get on! These types of International Exchange are great ways for the kids to build up relations with people in other areas of the World and learn about them in a very exciting way!

Be genki,



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