Basic English Lesson: Advice on Teaching English to Japanese
1. Slow down your speech (you already know this! but I'll just mention it to remind you)
2. For a basic English lesson--give students more time to formulate a response. This includes all levels of students. Don't worry about there being an un-naturally long silence between you asking a question and getting a response. Just because they don't respond right away doesn't mean they haven't understaood the question, it's often because they are mentally rehearsing their answer in their head to self-correct any grammar mistakes (according to their current conception of English grammar). You'll get better at reading (from body language etc) when it's a case of not understanding and when it's the situation I've just mentioned, but in the meantime it's better to leave that extra space for the student to answer.
"One who loves himself as everyone is fit to be teacher of the world."
--Dr. Wayne Dyer
Pictured: Mount Fuji from Hiratsuka by Richard Baladad
3. "...Make use of wrong answers to elicit the correct answer when the kids are sitting sliently not guessing at the answer to your question. Rather than giving them the right answer it's much better to make them say it. For example, if you ask "What is it?" (holding up a "dog" card) and for some reason nobody has answered you should ask them "Is it a hippopotamus?" or alien or something else (sometimes something funny or crazy is best) and usually that gets them joining in right away and you don't have to prompt them after that. On the other hand if you tell them "It's a dog" then they are less likely to join in with as much enthusiasm on the following questions.
4. When you assign homework for the youngsters make sure they know what to do. This might involve explaining the first question on the page, but before you explain it you should try and get them to tell you what it is. Then for the next question you try and get them to tell you only giving them the minimum amount of help and gradually they should be able to explain it to you without any more cues. Cos you're not gonna be there when they do the homework, if they haven't been able to demonstrate that they can do the qeustion verbally, then there is a high chance that they won't do it at home.
Following on from this, sometimes when kids haven't done homework it's for this very reason, so if they tell me they didn't do their homework, I ask in a friendly way to see their homebook. I make sure they realise (by my smiling and tone) that I'm not angry at them, but I just wanna see their book. I don't use any Japanese at all, but they understand. Then, I get them to tell me the answers to the questions that they should have done for homework. Then you'll know if they need more explanation from you or whatever."
About the Author:
Chris Weber, former English Teacher for Kevin`s English Schools and he taught at a junior high school north of Tokyo. He is also a professional jazz musician living with his Japanese wife in Australia.
Would you like to stay in a pleasant riverside cottage near hot springs and Hakone?