Warmers are great because they are fun and communicative, they should take around five
minutes, be very simple to set up and a good way to review or practise language. Learners
typically need a little ‘warming up’ at the start of each lesson. By varying your activities,
making them brief and purposeful learners will be more energized and focused towards
dealing with the target language of the lesson.
By varying the warmers you can keep learners on their toes and interested.
Warmers should not involve presenting or learning ‘new’ language, they should only involve
language learners already know or have learnt recently. They should also be brief, the idea
is to energise learners rather than let the warmer dominate the lesson.
Below are a few warmers. Some you will probably know already and some hopefully will be
new. Let me know what your favourite warmers are.
Ball Throws
Stand learners in a circle, say “My name’s….” and ask, “What’s your name?” while throwing
the ball to a learner. Indicate that they are to do the same until everyone has spoken. Next
throw the ball to a learner while saying their name and continue around the group. Stating
likes and dislikes, how old are you? Have you ever? etc can extend this activity.
Post-It Game
Write the names of famous people / characters on enough post-it notes for everyone in the
class. Each person has a post-it note on their back and with a partner they have to ask and
answer questions to guess who they are. Alternatively this can be played using fruit /
classroom nouns / animals etc.
Meet ‘n’ Greet
Similar to the post-it game except the names of people are not kept secret but openly
displayed. Learners are at a ‘party’ and must mingle, meet and greet each other in
Back To The Board / Taboo
In two teams A and B: One person from A sits with their back to the board. Team B writes a
word on the whiteboard that team A have to explain to their teammate. They cannot say
the word or mime/gesticulate. Allow a time limit of 1 minute per go.
Odd One Out
Prepare some vocabulary lists (5 or 6 items) (E.g. kettle, microwave, saucepan, etc.). In
pairs/small groups learners find the word that does not fit and why.
In pairs and hand out a sheet of paper. Learners write the name of a man and met (e.g. Elvis
met…) at the top of the page and the fold the paper over and pass it along. The next person
writes the name of a woman and at (e.g. Madonna at & place) learners continue passing the
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‘story’ around until eight folds have been written on or the story comes back to the first
writer. Once complete the learner opens the page and reads “their” story. Learners decide
who has the best/funniest/saddest story.
Not Yes Or No
A learner stands at the front of the group and the other learners have to ask them questions
to try and force them to respond with either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The learner should answer the
questions as quickly and honestly as possible. Once they say yes or no another learner takes
their place. This can be played in small groups too.
Draw A Word
In 2 teams, A & B: Team B whispers a word to a member of team A, who then draws a
representation of it at the board. Team A has to guess the word (E.g. a picture of clocks to
elicit the word ‘Time’) again, set a time limit. Points are awarded for correct guesses.
Board Bingo
Board 15 words learners know. Have them write 5 of the words on a piece of paper (or in
their notebooks). Next call out the words at random (as in bingo) and learners tick off the
words they have written down. The first one to tick off all their words is the winner.
Board Detectives
One learner sits with their back to the board. Write a sentence behind them (E.g. He must
be ill.) The group are witnesses and orally suggest concrete evidence of the situation (He is
sitting in the doctors / he has a temperature etc.) until the learner guesses the situation.
Desirable Objects
Tell learners you have an object to give away and the person or team that comes up with
the most imaginative reason for having it ‘win’ the object. Try to include desirable objects
(Ferrari) with undesirable objects (an empty tin can).
Draw The Teacher
Draw 2 ovals on the board and put the class in 2 teams. Say “They are eyes!” and the two
leading learners (one from each team) run up and draw eyes on the oval. Then return to the
start point and repeat – “they are eyes”. The pen is passed to the next learners in line and
the teacher calls out “It’s a nose” etc. The first learner to correctly draw the face parts and
identify them wins a point. This can be made more fun by making it clear to the learners the
oval is YOUR (the teacher’s) face, learners can enjoy – with your permission – making fun of
the teacher.
This will also work if you want to do body parts as well. Just draw the basic torso instead of
ovals. If learners are unsure as to which facial/body part it is just point to it. Another
variation could be for naming parts of animals. The resulting picture would be a monster.
i.e. peacock’s tail, snake’s head, elephant feet, bat’s wings, etc.
Spin Zone
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Each pair has a coin (or counter that will spin). One learner has to say as many sentences or
words in the target language as they can before the coin stops spinning. Their partner needs
to count and the one who says the most wins. Winners could compete in “spin offs”.
Prepositions Game
Prepare a text containing prepositions. Remove all the propositions and have them written
on pieces of paper, then put them in an envelope. In groups give each an envelope. Learners
should listen to the text and whenever you raise your hand they should bring you a suitable
preposition the fastest correct team wins points. Points can be deducted for a wrong
Pass It On
This is a chanting activity involving rhythm and vocabulary. Sit learners in a circle and review
the vocab (eg animals). Take one card and place it on the floor face down in front of the
learners. Build up a simple clapping rhythm chanting “Pass it on! Pass it on!” make sure this
is slow enough to allow learners time to pass the card, face down, along the floor. Stop the
clapping after 3 or 4 beats and the learner who has the card in front of them to pick it up.
Everyone asks “What is it?” and the student responds “It’s a X”. This can be played with
plastic food, toy animals etc.
Flashcard Sumo
Have 2 learners come to the front of the class. Choose two flashcards at random and keep
them secret. Attach a flashcard to the back of each player with a paper clip so neither
learner can see what it is. Learners face each other and do ‘sumo’ poses with their hands
behind their backs. They have to the count of 100 to try to see the other persons’ card
without using their hands. Once they call out the correct answer they are they winning
sumo wrestler. Keep other learners busy by having them count together loudly 1 to 100.
Sound Maze
Board the following word tree/maze (or on a large piece of paper). At the end of each
‘branch’ add sounds you want the learners to practice – in this case ‘th’ &‘s’. At the bottom
of the tree draw four objects to review (or add flashcards) – in this case cat, dog, monkey
and bird. Learners follow clues given by the teacher (E.g. ‘three shirts’ for th + s) to follow
the tree down to one of the four pictures (E.g. bird). The first learner to shout out the
correct object becomes the teacher.
Balloon Game
Learners stand in a circle facing inwards. Choose a topic to review (E.g. fruit). Learners pass
the balloon around the circle by batting it towards each other. Each time the balloon is hit
the learner must say the name of a fruit. The game can be more challenging by adding
numbers for every fifth hit of the balloon (E.g. 1, orange, plum, lemon, 5, cherry etc).
What are your favourite warmers?
Sophia McMillan Oct 2019

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Using Settlers of Catan in a Business English Class


This worked quite well in our class. Students seem to have enjoyed it and they learned a few things.

Settlers of Catan Rules in Japanese

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A Good Workout for Teachers over 40

Here’s a good workout my friend, another teacher recommended.

Men over 40 Workout

Feeling Tired? Tonics that can give you more energy

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Using Google Drive for Online Teaching

If you are planning to use Google Drive for Online teaching:

If you were going to do audio how would you do it? Have the files on Google Drive and give them the link on the LMS?

That’s how I plan on doing it.

7 Google Drive Tips you Probably aren’t using

Google Drive Tips

Geek Tips

What is G Suite anyway?

Google Classroom:

All Things Google Classroom

Making Multiple Breakout rooms for Google Meet

Google Meet Breakout Rooms

How to Make Multiple Breatkout rooms for Google Meet, another idea.

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Online Teaching-Business Result Pre-Intermediate

Are you teaching Business Result Pre-Intermediate and worried students may somehow lose their CDs or some other computer problems?

Here is the audio for 2nd edition

Business Result Pre-Intermediate Audio

There are more materials for students at Oxford Learn.

Business Result Pre-Intermediate at Oxford Learn

Here is the old version of Business Result 1st edition that is fully scanned and available for free online.

Business Result Pre-Intermediate 1 st edition

Kevin’s English Schools, the Canadian schools in Kanagawa

Kevin’s English Schools

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Zoom Tips

How to play audio for your students using Zoom.

Play audio with Zoom

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English Firsthand Series Online

If you are doing Emergency Online Teaching or Teaching Online, EF has materials available at their website.

EF Online for Students

There are additional resources available for Students at the following link:

English Firsthand Additional Materials for Students

Tips for Teaching English Firsthand or any textbook online.

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ETJ Expo!

The Tokyo ETJ English Language Teaching Expo
Saturday/Sunday February 22/23 (9:00-6:00)
Otsuma Women’s University, Tokyo
THE event for English language teachers (and future teachers)
• Presentations by authors, local teachers . . . 
on a wide range of topics for English teachers in all kinds of situations.
• Displays of teaching materials by international publishers and individual teachers.
Information such as the presentation schedule, a map with directions . . . 
will gradually be added at:
The Expo is for ALL teachers
There are presentations and displays of materials for college teachers, high school teachers, elementary school teachers, kindergarten teachers… In fact, the aim is to provide top-class presentations and material displays for every kind of teacher. 
You can attend one day, two days or part of the day
There are independent presentations arranged in time slots throughout the day. This means you can drop into the Expo for part of the day if you are busy.
Fee for attending the Expo
ETJ members: 1.000 yen
Non-members: 2,000 yen
Join ETJ
(no fee)

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Move over Question Quest

Move over Question Quest because now there’s a sequel.

Question Quest, if you’ve ever played it with your students, you will know it was great!
Now Question has a sequel: Crystal Hunters.

Crystal Hunters

Kevin’s English Schools, the Canadian Schools in Japan!


Fluent 4U

Fluent 4U

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Using Storybooks in the Classroom

Shane Training Centre

Using Storybooks In The Classroom

Using Storybooks in the Classroom


Why Use Storybooks in the Classroom?

Storybooks should be used in a young learner classes in three main ways:

1) Reading for pleasure and enjoyment: this can require a good level of English 

2) As an extra teaching resource: allows for language to be introduced and practiced

3) A combination of 1 and 2 above: using storytelling to teach and practice the language while allowing the learners to realise reading in English is fun and enjoyable


Children read books (and are read to) in Japanese for pleasure in their daily lives. Sharing English storybooks shows that English can be a pleasurable experience too. English storybooks make English real and learners can see English being used for a real and familiar purpose. 


Storybooks give learners a different, colourful and interesting experience of English. They can be used to practice vocabulary and language in context. They obviously practice listening and can be used to extend speaking, reading and writing. Theme-based work can also be used to extend the value of the storybook across the curriculum. 


Teachers can use storybooks in a variety of ways using different language, depending on the book being used and the language they want to teach/practice. 


How to Use Storybooks

In order to fully utilise the storybook it is important to consider:

1) What language should be taught?

2) What vocabulary do the learners need to know?

3) What activities can be used to extend the English and the theme of the story?


As teachers we need to consider what to do:

a) before the story

b) during the story

c) after the story


Before Reading

It may take more than one lesson for the learners to be confident with the language used. For the following activities choose either fruit/animals/colours, one set per group, alternatively the groups can change their flashcard set between activities. 


Clapping/Stamping Drill: Drill the colour cards and have the group clapping and/or stamping along with the rhythm of the words being drilled. Turn the drill into a chant, as the rhythm will help them remember the words. 


Mimes: Put the flashcards somewhere everyone can see them. Have the learners sit in front of you and mime an action related to one of the cards. Learners should shout out the word and point at the card (or retrieve it). Once a learner has correctly guessed the card have them take the teacher role. 


Robot Drill: Draw a robot on the board with a dial on his chest. The dial could be a round piece of paper with an arrow drawn on it attached to a magnet. To change the setting turn the dial. The dial is a speed control with 3 settings, slow, normal and fast (or quiet, normal and loud). Demonstrate the functions of the dial by pointing to the different numbers and saying the words at the displayed speed/loudness. When learners understand the dial have them take the teacher role. 


Storytelling Chant: Chants will engage the learners, give them extra language to practice and enjoy the routine. Use the following chant sung to the tune of ‘London Bridge is falling down’.

‘Ssh be quiet, please sit down

Please sit down, please sit down

Ssh be quiet, please sit down

Listen, listen, listen.’


During the Story

Young learners need a reason to listen and look – we need to create that. Elicit some ideas this can be done: Facial expressions, gestures, sound effects, changes in pitch/tone, pausing etc. We need to build interest in the story itself and keep it interactive and fun. This could be the anticipation of the teacher making a funny face or a silly voice, being able to shout “hahaha” as a character runs away, or a doing a gesture/movement or finding a prop. 


Read the story and demonstrate the following activities.

 Phrase Repetition: Start reading the book. Use hand gestures and alter the speed and tone of your voice to encourage learners to copy you so that they repeat the phrases.


 Monocular: Hand out a sheet of scrap paper and have learners roll it up to make a monocular – use a piece of tape to hold it in place. Place the fruit flashcards around the room/on the table. Start reading the story and as you read the question, “What have you found?” learners hold up their monocular. When you read what the character has found/eaten learners look through their monocular at the correct picture and repeat the language.


After the Story

There are all kinds of activities that may be related to the story book to extend the learners’ understanding. Some are directly related to English and others may be cross-curricular. These can be chants, craft, using characters to practice other target language e.g. prepositions, phonics etc. 


Getting learners in the right frame of mind for reading a story is just as important as teacher preparation, especially the first time you use English story time. Strive to make storytelling time special and something the children will look forward to. 


Move away from the usual classroom layout. Have learners closer to you so they can see you and the text. Make a special story telling corner, with the children in a cosy huddle around. 


Play a particular piece of music/chant to indicate it is story time and get the children in the mood. Or put on a storytelling hat for a similar effect.


Have a regular set time for storytelling. Learners eagerly anticipate the excitement in store as the allotted time approaches. 


Voice, Sound & Movement

These are important when reading stories. They are amusing and enjoyable for the listener but more importantly they help learners understand the story. 



 Pronunciation – watch out for problem sounds/think about word and sentence stress
 Intonation – vary it for questions, statements and lists
 Rhythm – read neither too slowly or too quickly, with appropriate pauses
 Variation – vary the pace and loudness of your voice. Use various voices for different characters 



Use sound effects – paper cups struck on the table for footsteps, or have learners stamp their feet etc.


Use sound effects at key moments (perhaps when something silly happens) or use a squeaky toy.



Involve the audience. Give them a prop to mimic a character doing the same in the story. Or a gesture they use when something happens in the story.


Teacher Preparation

Here are a few ideas to make you into a storybook reading and telling expert.

 Read through the story aloud to yourself to familiarise yourself with it. 
 Practice the look up and say technique. Don’t read with your nose in the book.
 Watch yourself in the mirror as you tell your story! Probably 50% or more of communication comes through body and facial movement. 
 Gather any props, flashcards or pictures to help tell your story. These will all help children understand. 


What stories have you used in class?


Sophia McMillan Oct 2019



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Adult Children of Alcoholics Tokyo


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