Interview of Bob Coffee Creator of Chunky English

by Kevin R Burns

Chunky English Fluency (Free)

Chunky English Fluency (Free)

Chunky English Fluency (Free)
Chunky English Grammar Patch
Chunky English Show Me
Chunky English Vocab Free

Interview of Bob Coffee Creator of Chunky English

Bob owns Shortsnap Learning and makes apps for students to learn English.

Interview for How to teach English in Japan

Bob, how long have you been involved in teaching English and where have you taught?

I have been in Japan for over 20 years now and have been teaching in one capacity or another. When I first arrived in Japan from Canada, I taught English conversation but quickly changed to colleges and universities. I have taught all around Fukuoka city and 3 years ago me and my family moved here to the Kanto region and now I work at a large school in this region.

I also spent 3 years on the JET program, not as an English teacher but rather as a CIR working at city hall doing grassroots internationalization with citizens. I gave speeches in Japanese, visited different city organizations like women’s groups, a center for physically challenged people, and business organizations and gave cultural talks. It was a great learning experience for me and I really got to know the Japanese heart and soul especially more of the older traditional ways of doing things.

However, currently I am working for a large university in the Kanto area and make apps whenever I have a spare moment.

How and why did you get involved in making apps for English learning?

I have a science and engineering background and have been trying to combine that with my teaching, so it is only natural that I use technology in my classrooms. In 2009, I received a MEXT research grant to investigate educational games and motivation. In addition, while I was working for an online school, I created a lot of digital materials. It was a dream come true to be able to use my love of science from my youth and my educational training in Japan.

However, it wasn’t until the tablet revolution that started in principle with the iPad only about 5 years ago that my specific combination of skills really could be put to use, but there was still one thing missing and that was that I hadn’t programed for many years and I needed to update my programing abilities. Luckily, programming languages have changed immensely for the better since I was in school. What I mean by that is the ease of use of languages and programming tools that allow rapid progress from paper napkin ideas to working prototype to polished app.

The advent of tablets, has allowed me to bring together my two passions of education and science. Tablets are an educational game changer. They won’t replace books, just like computers didn’t replace books, or audio and video didn’t replace blackboards and paper. But mobile technologies and tablets are already changing the way educators think about instruction. I’m sure you’ve heard about flipped classrooms and maybe MOOCs and all kinds of other educational paradigms. Apps and mobile technologies are very accessible and I guess I just woke up one day and said, “I’m going to make an app, yeah, I’m going to do it. And I did.”

Which apps do you have currently available and how can people purchase them?

We have several apps out at the moment, each one for a different audience with at least 4 more planned for this calendar year. Currently, we have two apps out under the Chunky English Series.

There is Chunky English: Vocab

and Chunky English: Fluency.

Both have similar game play and educational goals but they have completely different content and different graphic themes.

There is also English Grammar Patch,

which is similar to the Chunky English series but has a more grammar slant. And finally, we have a flashcard and spelling app out for a younger audience.

Chunky English Fluency (free)

Chunky English Fluency Free

Chunky English Vocab (free)

Chunky English Vocab Free

English Grammar Patch

English Grammar Patch

ShowMe (flashcards and spelling)


All the apps can be found on the iTunes Store and the Google Play Store, that is for iOS and Android devices both tablet and smart phone. All the apps are free to download but some might have in-app purchases if you want to either get rid of the ads or you want to purchase more content. I feel terrible charging for educational content and wish I could give the apps away for free or without annoying ads but app development is expensive and the tools and graphics we use do cost. I think that our apps are quite inexpensively priced compared to some English learning apps out there. If you like the app then 2 dollars is pretty reasonable, I think.

However, if you don’t mind looking at ads at the bottom of the screen or full screen ads periodically then you can still play and learn all the content completely free of charge.

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