The new “Eigo Note” is here: “Hi friends!”

(This one is just of interest for those of you in Japan – unless of course you are outside Japan and want to see what the government comes up with over here!)

As you probably know the “Eigo Note” elementary school “textbook” is being phased out.

The new replacement has just started being delivered to primary schools in Japan this week.

This time it’s called “Hi friends.”

Gumby has started a thread in the VIP forum with more details. Basically it looks a lot like the Eigo Note (along with lots of bad English!) but Gumby also notes that the software has really improved this time, which is good.

The Education Ministry (MEXT) have also put up some information on their site

As with the Eigo Note it’s not a compulsory “textbook” (although some schools may effectively make it so.)  It is mainly designed as a guide for teachers who don’t know what to do with English and to help balance out the kids’ different levels as they approach junior high school.

As with the Eigo Note you’ll find a lot of overlap with Genki English materials, and you can continue to use your Teacher’s Set to liven up the lessons.  ( Note: This week is also the last week to get your school to pay for the Genki English pack using year’s budget – it will be gone next week!)

Plus of course I’ll try and make up a more detailed page with ideas for each lesson like I did with the Eigo Note page 4 (!) years ago.

We’d love to hear your feedback/thoughts on either the Eigo Note or the new “Hi Friends” book, please write them up in the comments!

P.S. Speaking of the “Teacher’s Set”, this week is probably the last week to get in

Richard Graham

I'm on a mission to make education Genki—fun, exciting, and full of life! Genki English has now been researched by Harvard University and licensed by the British Council around the world. The results have been magical! Now I'm here to help you teach amazing lessons, with all the materials prepared for you, and to double your teaching income so you can sustainably help many more students in the future!

12 Responses to “The new “Eigo Note” is here: “Hi friends!””

  1. Tony Bryant

    Hi friend!!

    What a great name for an English text book! That’s the greeting I normally use when I arrive at a gathering of pals!

    We have the same problem in Hong Kong with poorly written English texts. It’s often difficult to explain the problem to local teachers as the grammar can be perfect; it’s the turn of phrase that is the problem!

    In Hong Kong it is common to have colleagues whose technical knowledge of English grammar is better than yours but they cannot hold a conversation in English!!

    Just yesterday I was in a K2 class and I’ve got all the kids shouting out English, the local teacher, (her class to be fair!), well she is going crazy! “STAND UP STRAIGHT, ARM NEXT TO YOUR BODY AND CLOSE YOUR MOUTH BE QUIET AND DON’T MAKE SOUND CHILDREN!!! IF YOU WANT TO TALK PUT UP YOUR HAND!!!”

    Richard – it drives me to distraction but I love going out to the local schools and giving the kids a break from the chalk and board….. 🙂

  2. Tony Bryant

    Just to add, I’m being sarcastic about the ‘Hi, friends’ thing! Never said it in my life!! 🙂

  3. Julia

    Hi Tony!

    Thank you for your super comments! I figured we have very common problems.
    “Hi, friends!” is a Russian greeting written in English but with using Russian grammar (punctuation and plural ending). 🙂

    In Russia English textbooks are made by Russian authors who want children to understand everything at once: a great amount of vocabulary, grammar, phonetic symbols. But their English seems to be brought very close to Russian.

    And they don’t let kids really communicate, just pretend. This is followed by different problems one of the biggest of which is losing motivation.

    But I hope for the best with GenkiEnglish!
    And I wish the same to you!

  4. Sam K.

    Not sure which clay computer Gumby is running the Hi friends flash program on but on mine it is a resource hog. The CPU is always at 98%. It was barely noticeable with Eigo note. It’s going to be a long year…

  5. MissT

    Can anyone tell me if “hi Friends” is mandatory for Japanese elementary schools.

  6. richard

    Hi MissT

    It’s not mandatory at the national level, but some Boards of Education decide to effectively make it so in their areas.

  7. Scott

    Does anyone find “Hi, Friends” a bit lacking. It’s all about activities with no teaching. So they can ‘learn’ the phrases, but will they understand the phrases.

    After finding out the series was created by the government of a non-English speaking country, it just leaves me wondering ……..

  8. richard

    Don’t worry Scott, you’re not the only one!

  9. Arno

    Hi everyone. As the new school vear 2013 has started, I am teaching the HiFriends all over again: In HiFriends1 lesson 1 the “lets play” with romanji chart of the Japanese alphabet has this 2 writings of sya and sha (and all the other similiar ones). It is confusing for the kids, because the kids use the sya one their namecards but in English writing I use sha. Why the difference? Any suggestion how to deal with this in class and the Japanese teacher.

  10. richard

    It’s because they use different romanisation systems depending on what subject is being taught e.g. computer science vs. English vs. Romaji in Japanese class.

    The kids will be used to knowing there are different ways, you just have to decide which one you (or the Japanese teacher) want in your English class. Most English speakers tend to go for the “sha” case!

    Or just do what many people do and just skip the Hi Friends, as you’ve seen it doesn’t improve much from this start!

  11. lejsensei

    Hello Everyone

    I am working as an ALT in Japanese elementary and junior highschool and have been using Hi, Friends Book to both my 5th and 6th Graders.

    I know a lot of eyebrows are raising (including mine) when I first encounter the lesson and the mannerEnglish is taught in Japan but we need to understand first if English in Japan is treated as a subject or just by asking the fundamental question “Why do (Japanese)they design English to be taught this way and not the way we do it in our country or other countries?” so that we will fully understand the underlying principle of the English program in this country.

    If you will take a look at the books and the topics listed. These are just common target language that students can use either at home or at school. For 5th and 6th graders, the MEXT just wanted the students to be exposed on how a foreign language is used and the proper pronunciation of the words and awareness of the difference between Japanese pronunciation and the English pronunciation. These books are used to expose children to different cultures as it is reflected on the different activities divided in each Part for every lesson from the book. Grades 5 and 6 students need not to learn the 4 macro skills in English.
    I admit that at times I could not decipher why do they have to do this way and not prepare the students with the 4 Macro skills in English which will help them when they eneter Junior highschool.
    It is also kind of sad to hear that most of them ask that for so many years that they have spent learning English, Japanese can’t still use the language for communication. This is because the way English is taught in JHS is not in a communicative way, but instead English to be used in Tests where as I have observed teachers focus to much on test practice in preparation for highschool or University English test.
    In the classroom, students use target language expression only in games which limits students ability to widen their horizon of Emglish. I am not saying that games are not useful, but why not allow students to express their opinions on a listening or reading activity? In this way even asnwers in phrases or sentences (if they can) can be utilized by students and when practiced will enable them to communicate.

    At the end of this all I believe that if Japan will not change the way they perceive English then this country will be left behind by others even if they spend a lot of money for materials and foreign teachers. The system has to be overhauled and changes has to be made for the betterment of the future of this country “the children”.

    The MEXT should address local Japanese teachers training working with ALTs so that delivery of the lesson will be achieved once English is taught.

    MEXT also kill the enthusiasm of students in learning English by just giving them fun English at 5th and 6th grades then scare them with English in JHS. How can MEXT expect students to read if they do not even know phonics at all at the age of 13. (Well, if parents can afford cram schools can do this for them, but what if they don’t? ) Will it be called an equal education to all?
    How can they expect them to say the words or sentences properly if the listeningscript and reading tests are writtrn in katakana (which by the way is the main reason why Japanese students pronounce words with “U” sound at the end of some words.
    Why do they still use translation method which has been used in latin language which is now a language that is forgotten. Can’t they understand that the structure of English sentences in different from Japanese sentences? Who gives these burden? and who suffers from these burden?

    I have been teaching as an ALT for months and I have observed a lot.

    I hope that in the future MEXT will consider that “English is a language of communication and competitiveness towards globalisation”.

    MEXT should train their frontliners in teaching, the Japanese teachers, for them to have a sustainable English program for the benefit of Japanese students.

    I have a lot to say ,but got no time. Hope to hear from some of you here.

    This is a constructive criticism and my own opinion.

    I will be happy to have a healthy and educated discussion about these observations of mine.

  12. gumby

    You made many valid points. I truly think that MEXT is envisioning a big overhaul in the English language educational system, but at this stage isn’t realistic to have unprepared elementary teachers teaching English. From the meetings I’ve attended in my prefecture, phonics is definitely on the radar.

    However how they will implement this is all clear. With all that is said and done, English and math are the subjects that determine which students will go on to the better universities. If you take all the linguistics out of English and make it more of a subjective type of testing, it will change how the entrance exams are made.

    so yes, as you wrote, real change won’t come unless English is seen more as a means of communication than a means of testing.

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