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1 – Guide to Teaching English

This guide is primarily for elementary school ALTs, but the concepts are valid for most applications. This guide was presented at the Gunma Prefectural Education Center in September, 2010. The following is an excerpt:

English Methodology

There are many different ideas and methods to teach English, all of them with pros and cons.  Some promoted methods are PPP, ESA, and ARC.

The PPP method:  Warmup,  Presentation,   Practice,   Production,   Cool down

The ESA method:  Warmup,  Engage,  Study,  Activate, Cool down

The ARC method:  Warmup,  Clarification and Focus,   Restricted Use,   Authentic Use,  Cool down

Ultimately, the methodology doesn’t matter very much – the goals are much the same and the differences are trivial for beginning teachers.  All the methods target increasing use of the target language, increasing student independence, and decreasing teacher control.

      Note that there are five basic steps in all the methods.  This will translate into the activities done in elementary school lessons.  The most important three are demonstration of the target language, restricted practice of the language (drilling and repetition), and semi-realistic use of the target language.

1.4.1    Warmup (~5 minutes)

      Professional swimmers don’t just jump in the water; they do stretches and basic exercises or their muscles will cramp.  In the same way, don’t expect students to perform well without a basic warmup.  Warmups should be very simple: greetings and asking about feelings is generally enough.  You can include the goals for English (Do your BEST! – Big Voice, Eye Contact, Smile, Try), songs, storybooks, review previous lessons, and the like.  Warmups should be easy.  Try to get students to remember previously learned English or important phrases.

1.4.2    Presentation (~5-10 minutes)

To present the target language, try to elicit the target language from students.  Some will know the Japanese and you can translate, and some will know the English.  It’s motivating for students if they know the vocabulary and it helps them keep interest in English.

      First, explain the lesson goals and situation, then, draw out the language using a demonstration.

HRT: 今日は果物と買い物の勉強です。  (Today we are studying fruit and shopping).  ボブはお店の人、私はお客です。(Bob is the store person and I am the customer.)

ALT: Hello.

HRT: Hello.

ALT: May I help you?

HRT: How much is this apple?

ALT: It’s $1.

HRT: Here you are.  (give money)

ALT: Thank you.  (give apple)  See you again!


After the demonstration, hints are good for drawing out related English.


HRT: はい、私は今何を買いましたか?  (OK, what did I buy?)

Students: アップル!  (Apple!)

HRT: いくらでしたか?  (How much was it?)

Students: 一ドル!  (1 dollar)

HRT: Very good!  じゃあ、他の果物の名前が分かりますか? (Do you know the names of other fruits?)

Students: もも!  (Peach)

HRT: 英語の名前が分かりますか?  (Do you know the English name?)

Students: ピーチ (Peach)

ALT: OK, what fruit is big and red on the inside but green on the outside(use gestures and point to colors)

Students: スイカ!ウォーターメロン!  (Watermelon)

ALT: Great!

      Such a demonstration will get students involved and bring out their prior knowledge.  Remember that English is not a spectator sport.  Lessons must be interactive or children will be bored – and bored children misbehave.


1.4.3    Practice (~10-15 minutes)

      Students should be more or less able to produce the target language in this stage.  Use practice games, rhythmical chants, and songs to hide the necessary – and not very fun – drilling and repetition.  Listening quizzes are also good tools but are not so interesting.  Try to help the students as much as possible and praise them when they do something well.

1.4.4    Production (~15 minutes)

      The main goal of production is to use the target language in a semi-realistic situation.  Don’t worry too much about accuracy; at this stage of the lesson, it can be demotivating or students can get too embarrassed to use the language well.  Set up conversations or question and answer sets between individual students or small groups and get them talking.

      Roleplays are a great way of using target languages in a realistic situation.  Shopping games, road direction games, and original plays are lots of fun but not for every language target.  Interviews and other games will probably be more useful.

      For higher level and older students, the target language will be more conversational in nature.  Lower level and younger students should mainly try to express themselves in games; asking other students is great but may be difficult.  Remember to pick a game that fits the target language – Battleship is a good for Q&A but not such a great game for shopping.

      If students are having a lot of trouble in production, you can simplify the activity.  Actively monitor their English and help them as you join in the activities!

1.4.5    Cooldown (~5 minutes)

      Students should be given a short time to reflect on the day’s lesson.  A quick review or short self-evaluation survey is good to wind down the lesson.  If there was any exceptional use of English, be sure to comment on it.