Meet the Teachers

 2014.11.02 Updated

Meet the Teachers -Beanstalk English School-

【Beanstalk English School for Children and Parents 】

Ms. Kikuko Shimizu, Owner (Nasushiobara City, Tochigi Pref.)

beastalk 1-001.jpgBeanstalk, an English language classroom, which is located in Natsushiobara in Tochigi Prefecture opened in April 2010. It took its roots from a parent-child English conversation circle called Beans Club which started in 2007. About 50 parent-child pairs with children aged 5 months to 3 years took part.
Followed by their mother, students enter the classroom by cheerfully saying May I come in? (from Let's Go Let's Begin Unit 4). This is how the parent-child lessons begin at Beanstalk! Because we value each individual's learning pace, lessons at Beanstalk are devoted to one parent and one child only and last for thirty minutes. First, I go over the Let's Talk skit (from Let's Go 1 - 6 depending on the student) with the student or do a chant or song with them. After this, we review the language from the role-play. beanstalk2-001.jpg
Once the child has mastered the language, I usually have them role play swapping with their mother, while I watch. If the student can talk smoothly, they are ready to move on to the next part in "Let's Learn", etc. This practice of new language forms the homework that I assign to mother and child.
All the mothers who bring their children to Beanstalk take learning very seriously. They open the textbook, watch and listen carefully and take good notes during lessons. Even when I say "Let's try this skit together!", they gladly do so. They are amazing! Whether competing with their child to sing the songs, or trying their best to learn the skit, the mothers learn hand in hand with their child, they know, see and feel every "Well done!" "Good luck!" "Yeah!" and "Oh no!" that the child experiences. I am really happy to see how mother and child can grow in this way together.
beanstalk HW2014 5.jpgThe mothers serve as teachers of their child at home. Many of them come to me for a Parents' Class where they can get extra guidance on teaching techniques, how to engage their child in learning or how to improve their own English. The other day in the Parents' Class, we learned the Drills adopting the MAT method, one of the methods that can be used to teach Let's Go. In pairs, the mothers did the flashcards so well it put a teacher like me to shame. We also hold parent meetings at Beanstalk. Some of the more active mothers also hold a pow-wow where they share ideas on how to learn more effectively and discuss worries and concerns. Seeing their mothers' efforts to learn in this way, the children naturally want to deepen their own interest in learning.
beanstalk HW2014 3.jpgThis really is learning by example.
The fourth goal of the MAT method is that students talk together in English. So once a month, we gather all the students for a group lesson.
We do "Find a partner" with a Q & A interview game or conversation catch-ball where students talk while throwing a ball. We also have fun playing other games that I have learned in my training from IIEEC or Oxford. In group lessons, to allow students to express themselves, I have been trying Show & Tell. The children get the chance to practice talking about their own English picture book or diary in front of others.
In May, we held an outdoor "Field Adventure" event to further develop study of the senses (Let's Go 5, unit 7). Surrounded by a beautiful green forest, the mothers and guest teachers were stationed at differen 't sense spots' that included activities for each of the senses. The students formed teams and with maps in hand, moved from spot to spot. At the 'touch & feel' spot, for example, students were asked the question" Which bottle is the same weight as the yellow one?" They would then have to choose from a variety of bottles to find the one with the same weight. At the 'smell' spot, they were asked "What does it smell like?" and had to guess the smells of coffee, vanilla, garlic chives, etc. from a bottle without knowing what was in it (apparently distinguishing between garlic, garlic chives, and green onions is very difficult, but exciting!). In October, we plan to open a one-day 'Halloween Café' where students will dress up as waiters and waitresses, take orders in English and serve drinks and cake. Please visit our home page to see the event report:

beanstalk HW2014 4.jpgFrom now and into the future, through our English lessons, we hope our students will:
• Gain confidence in speaking English with the support of their parents
• Deepen the bonds with their parents through speaking English
• Grow their knowledge and ability to its fullest like a growing beanstalk

School Profile
Students: 4 to 13years old and parents
Material: Let's Go, Oxford Reading Tree, etc

 2014.07.26 Updated

Meet the Teachers ◆Life Joy Club

◆Life Joy Club◆        Ms. Machiko Taguchi   (Tachikawa, Tokyo)    
using LG readers.jpg
It was 16 years ago that first learned about the MAT Method. At that time I worked at a big kids English school. They taught me about the MAT Method but they didn't give me any details. Also they told me "don't say anything about the MAT Method to your customers. IT is just the teaching method for the classes." So that is why I soon forgot about the name "MAT Method." (Photo: Let's go 1 / 3rd grade class / Using Let's Go Readers)

The next kids English school I worked at had a one on one teaching style. There were teaching manuals but I had a hard time teaching. Is it because it was one on one? The reaction of the students was not as good as I know it could have been. So I didn't take any time to decide to do the Mat Method in the class. Again, it worked, even with one on one lessons. I thought "Wow! Really? What's going on?"

Now I need to learn more about the Mat Method. It's no use regretting it now.

doing pair practice.jpgAfter another few years I transferred to another kids English school as the manager. This was my first time to use the "Let's Go series." Using a store-bought textbook made me a little worried because I had never used a textbook like that before. But once reading the Teacher's Guide I found that the Let's Go books are wonderful. I thought, "Wow" This is a fantastic book that have I never seen before!" The books are very simple to teach. There are many cute songs, and chants. They are easy to remember and sing. Also there is a teacher's manual which is really useful.  (Photo: Let's go 1 / 3rd grade class / Doing pair practice)

And about six years ago I was really shocked when for the first time I came to a school where there weren't any teaching manuals. If the Japanese manager changes the lesson plans then everything changes. Then I become the manager of the Life Joy English School. I didn't waste any time choosing the textbooks because I am a big fan of the Let's Go series. But if I use the Let's Go series then I should know more about this series, right? So I searched on the internet and I finally found the IIEEC program. I didn't waste any time signing up.

On the first day of training, as time was passing, I thought "What? Is this the MAT Method? I think I have heard of it before, but where? Let me see.....Wow!  This is the method I was taught more than ten years ago! Wow! At this time I was just really impressed. Because I still remember when I did the MAT Method in class, it really affected the kids.

christmas lesson.jpgNow my school's main teacher is a native teacher speaker. But honestly, I really want to teach myself.
Now in each lesson the teacher is trying really hard to speak no more than 20 percent of the time. The remaining 80 percent is for the students. It helps the students make a lot of progress. It all starts with the teacher in charge of the lesson.
For the students to improve, teachers need to improve their own teaching techniques and take responsibility for the quality of the lessons. For that reason, I require teachers to have an IIEEC certificate to teach at my school.
(Photo: Let's Go 5 / Junior high school / Reading dialogues)

meet the teacher.jpgBrent is also playing a large part in our school. We both agree that the Let's Go series the best! He always tries very hard with teaching and he never forgets to keep studying for himself and for the children.

Special thanks to Brent!

<Ms. Machiko Taguchi>
Life Joy Club HP

 2014.05.01 Updated

Meet the Teachers  ◆Linnies English School Ms. Samantha Gross 

◆Linnies English School◆   Ms. Samantha Gross  (Utsunomiya, Tochigi)

Like many other foreigners living in Japan, people often ask my why I came. First and foremost because I love Japan. I love the language, culture, and people. But more importantly because I want to be a great English teacher to Japanese people. As of this year I've just started teaching my sixth year of English here in Japan. I have a bachelor of arts in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) from Liberty University, and my goal personal goal is to someday attend Temple University in Tokyo to get an MA in TESOL.

And I'm currently living my dream job in Utsunomiya. Linnies English School is a collection of English Teaching professionals from all walks of life. We have teachers from many different countries who work together. Most specifically my employer is a teaching professional with many years of teaching experience in Japan, who sincerely cares about the education of the students, and the quality of the teaching that takes place. That being said, we're still a very small school working by trial and error.

One day last year my employer was watching my classroom. As she observed how I was interacting with the children, she noticed that the teaching style that I was already using was similar to the MAT Method. My students were asking and answering question to each other, and there were reinforcement activities and games, but communication and living English were lacking from my classroom. So my employer asked me if I had ever heard of the "MAT" method, and suggested that I attend the seminars.

At first I was a little reluctant. After having "My name is____." "I'm _____ years old.", and "I live in Utsunomiya" as the best results from my lessons, I was tired and frustrated. I didn't believe that communicative English could be taught once a week for only fifty minutes, but I was open to trying something new.

So I attended the seminars, and because I was paying money for it, you better believe I was applying what we were learning in the seminars to my own lessons. Soon after making just a few changes, I noticed a difference in my students. First, I was talking less, and they were talking more. We were moving from "repeat after me" to "use it". Most importantly, though, the students were beginning to enjoy the class, I was having fewer behavior problems, and my students were having fun.

Here are some pictures of how my classroom has changed.

写真1.jpg 1. Students talk more:
With the six-second drills my students NEVER repeat what I say. I simply introduce the new material, and then they practice in a more natural way that they enjoy. They also get maximized speaking time, and we're too busy to focus on anything else. Also by using gestures while practicing, my students activate both sides of their brain, which means that they retain more information!

2. Living English:写真2.jpg

The lessons are more contextualized to help students understand what we are studying. Here we are studying prepositions of location from Everybody Up 3. The students can visualize what I'm talking about, and more easily comprehend the lesson. Our target is : "Where's the library?" "It's next to/ across from/in between the _____."

Meet the Teacher Apr2014.jpgHere we are using classroom English to make a circle in order to orderly and quickly transition into a new activity.

Meet the Teacher Apr20141.jpg3. Improved reading comprehension:

With the new language already acquired my students are ready to read! The level isn't related to their reading ability. Here I have a level 1 class reading "What's this? It's a wastebasket." with confidence.

Below are students in level three practicing locations. During this activity one of my students looked at me, and said, "Teacher, this is fun."Meet the Teacher Apr20142.jpg

4. Student to student communication.
The role play is the most important aspect of the MAT method. Without it the entire method is meaningless. I have yet to master this aspect of the method because I implemented it during the middle of the school year, but when I step back, and let the students talk to each other they have fun, and they build confidence. More importantly I see them speaking English.Meet the Teacher Apr20143.jpg

Here the students are having fun practicing emotions while asking, "What's this?

Here the students are practicing asking each other locations without my assistance!Meet the Teacher Apr20144.jpg

I have yet to master the MAT method, but I'm looking forward to starting this year with it. It has helped me to enjoy my job, and my students to enjoy English. We will most certainly be ready for the 2020 olympics, and MAT will be leading the way.

 2014.03.06 Updated

Meet the Teachers "My Fairy Tale Dream Classroom"

Let's Go Kids Club◆  Ms. Yumi Tanaka   (Nagano)

I wanted to build a classroom to have a fairytale-like atmosphere, so I ordered a log cabin from Finland, which my husband built for me. This is what it looked like after the recent heavy snowstorm.

I have been teaching English to children at home by the MAT METHOD with the Let's Go series since 2004. I started to use Let's Go 4th Edition this spring. The reason why I recommend this course book is because it has everything the teacher needs to teach English to children, such as dialogues, songs, chants, vocabulary, question-and-answer practice, phonics, reading, etc. So, if you teach with Let's Go 4th Edition, even if you are an inexperienced teacher, you can teach children listening, speaking, reading and writing, step-by-step, in a fun and balanced way.

Songs and Chants
Each unit has interactive songs using expressions that are useful for dialogue. Children like these songs very much, especially the songs in Let's Go 1. I especially thought this when I heard that one girl who had come to my trial lesson was singing "The Hello Song" at lunch time at school the day after the trial lesson.

In "Let's Learn" and "Let's Learn More", students learn the vocabulary, sentence patterns and question forms, so your students will be able to speak to each other from an early stage. When I teach vocabulary, sentence patterns, and question forms, I pre-teach them. Then, I let my students open their books and practice with a CD. Since Let's Go 4th Edition has games for question-and-answer practice, I sometimes use the course book as a game tool.

田中由美先生2.jpgPhonics, Reading and Writing
Each unit has a page for phonics. And on the next page, there is a story using the words the students learned on the phonics page. I think this is good for both teachers and students. As it is difficult to find reading books that fit the level of the students, you don't have to struggle to find one if you use Let's Go (4th Edition). As for students, since they can read the words, they try to read the sentence spontaneously. Moreover your students can learn more reading and writing with their optional workbooks.

Audio CD
One of the best things in the fourth edition is that it comes with a CD, so the students can practice listening at home. I assign listening to the CD to my students. Some students learn more quickly than others. However I can prevent slow learners from being left behind by assigning review with the CD at home.

Another reason I select the Let's Go series over other coursebooks is vocabulary. As in most course books, vocabulary is categorized by theme such as food, toys, or animals. Besides this, in Let's Go, countable and non-countable words are categorized respectively. Let's Go teaches concepts one at a time. So, grammar is not difficult for children. That is why in my class, even first graders can talk to each other using sentences with correct grammar.

Lastly, since I have been using Let's Go for many years, both my students and I have grown to love the Let's Go characters, Andy, Scott, Jenny and Kate. In my class, many students identify with Andy because he looks childish. They think that Scott must be vain because he is cool and handsome. Andy is popular among boys while Scott is popular among girls.

I think that Let's Go is the best course book I have ever known.

reviewing 24 action cards.jpg

← The students are viewing 24 action cards. As they cannot read yet, they can remember them by using actions. After attending the IIEEC-OUP Teacher Training Program, my lessons have become better and I am doing Review with the language they have learned from the first lessons.

 2013.11.07 Updated

Meet the Teachers (Brent 's English School) 

◆Brent's English School◆  Mr. Brent Long  (Tokyo)

Brent1b.jpgI am often asked why I came to Japan. In 1999 I stopped studying French. I had been studying for more than four years but after a two-week trip to Paris I came away feeling like it was time for something new. I had lived in Germany when I was younger and could still speak German fairly well. My mother's side of the family was Mexican and many of my relatives could speak Spanish. I didn't want to study something common though. So I chose to study Japanese. There wasn't any one big reason, but rather many small reasons. I liked Nintendo, ninjas, martial arts, kanji and the challenge of learning a language that most people around me thought was too difficult.

Over the 14 years that followed I continued studying. I've spent time studying in every way I could find, using different methods, different textbooks, different teachers and trying to keep the good habits while discarding the bad. I understand the frustration that comes with learning a difficult new language and feeling like your studying just isn't efficient enough.

In 2004 I joined the U.S. Air Force and moved to Yokota Air Base in Tokyo. I had many good adventures but in 2008 when I was forced to choose between leaving Japan or leaving the military, I left the Air Force and started my new life as an English teacher.

Brent3.JPGWith my experiences studying though, it was very important to me to not be just some average teacher. I wanted to be the best teacher possible and open my own English school to give my students the fun, effective learning that I had been looking for in my own studies. I wanted my students to come away from each class feeling like it was time well spent and that I was truly helping them reach their goals. And to get to that level of teaching I had a plan to spend five years training as a teacher. Every year I would switch schools, learn new approaches, teaching styles and business models, before finally opening my own school. This is now year number five and I have worked with a fairly large number of students at eight different schools over that time. As I get ready to start up my own school in Tokyo it's finally time to start putting what I have learned to use and deciding upon how I'm going to be teaching in the future.

While I started off teaching adults with a good understanding of how to learn a language, I had no clue what to do for kids. My first month of teaching kids was depressing and I felt like I was failing my students. But one day I found a Let's Go teacher's guide sitting on one of the school's bookshelves. It was my first introduction to the MAT method and though I wasn't very good at it there was an immediate improvement in my teaching. The following year I was sent to the IIEEC teacher training seminar and got to see the MAT method in action, demonstrated by teacher trainers who really knew what they were doing. That was an absolutely eye-opening experience and gave me a pretty obvious choice when it came to what teaching style I would be using in the future with my own school. I love how it gives my classes a fun, high-energy pace with some really effective learning for all my kids. And the more I practice my MAT skills the better my students learn. It's been so helpful in fact that I went back three years later to go through it again. That was definitely a good idea as they updated their training and I needed to polish up some of the skills I hadn't been practicing.Brent2.JPG

Of course, I'm still pretty early on in my life as an English teacher but I've learned some great things and I look forward to going to class every day and sharing everything I can with my students.

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