NHK English Characters Worse than Nara Mascot?

We were all highly critical of the “freaky looking deer-horned Buddha” mascot that was chosen to represent the Nara Heijo-kyo anniversary, and rightly so, but I fear that even he was more appealing than the two characters that front NHK’s “Eigo de Asobo” children’s TV show. Meet Kebo and Motch Let me introduce these ambassadors of the English language… This picture from the cover of an NHK CD actually shows the two characters in good […]

Download Songs for ESL Children

Once a week, I throw my Pooh bag over my shoulder and haul my collection of flash cards and toys to my local kindergarten. With a fresh bunch of children starting their English lessons in a couple of weeks, I’ve taken to revamping the curriculum I’ve been using, and injecting some energy into it with some very genki songs. The problem with classic children songs For years, I’ve made do with classic children’s ditties such […]

Arnold Schwarzenegger Calls AEON English School

While I’ve been (and still am) waiting for my websites to move to their new web host, I’ve had some time to catch up on my favorite podcasts. One of those podcasts is from Gaijin-in-Japan.com, and recently in Mike’s 82nd podcast, we got treated to this brilliant prank call to an AEON English school in Japan: Arnold Calls English School There are lots of similar ones on ArnoldCalls.com, and you’ll find a load of them […]

Don’t Forget Your Pencil!

Time for a quick rant about my job as an English teacher in Japan. Before continuing, please read my disclaimer. This post is about children who forget to bring a pencil to class. Do I even need to say more? Surely that’s like going swimming without you’re trunks! If you’re going to school, take a pencil. It really shouldn’t be any more complicated than that, right? Why then, do I have kids who repeatedly forget to bring a pencil? […]

Teach English Online

I’ve been teaching English in Japan for over ten years, but I haven’t ventured into online English teaching. However, the internet is now part of our everyday lives, and email is no longer the only common means of communication. People everywhere, young and old, are using webcams, headsets, and software such as Skype to communicate with friends and family. The demand for English teachers is as strong as ever, but students are looking for cheaper and more convenient […]

Disney English System for Japanese

I just learned from my wife that she has sent off a request for a free Disney English System sample DVD. It’s widely accepted that if you want your child to be proficient in a foreign language, then you should start their learning from a young age. The last decade has seen Japan’s “English conversation” schools fall over themselves trying to recruit students at a younger and younger age. For example, when I started working […]

Don’t talk in English!

When I first came to Japan in 1997, the big chain school I worked at recommended all its teachers to open a bank account at Tokai Bank because of its proximity to the head office and the fact that the ATMs had English guidance. Soon after though, Tokai merged with Sanwa Bank and all the ATMs were replaced with the later bank’s Japanese-only machines. This caused long queues and much frustration as the foreigners randomly […]

Think you can teach Japanese kindy?

I’ve been teaching at Japanese kindergartens for years now, and I always have a lot of fun. The key to success in teaching these classes is to be fun and energetic. While some “proper” teachers complain that they came to Japan to “teach”, and not dance around like clowns, I believe that if your style of teaching is entertaining then your students are going to learn a whole lot more from you… or at least […]