English Teacher, do you have IBS?

The Low FODMAP Diet is not a weight-loss diet, it is designed for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and is sometimes recommended for treatment of inflammatory bowel disease. Digestive symptoms can include diarrhea, gas, bloating, abdominal pain or discomfort, fatigue, and headaches. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharide and polyols. It is these compounds (in most common carbohydrates) that may be difficult to digest and lead to bacterial fermentation causing gas and bloating.

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Burnt Out?

Some teachers get what I would call burn out once a semester, It usually hits in the 3rd month of the university term.  In my case, usually I am bored with what I am teaching because I have done it so much, or just the stress of dealing with 200 students per week plus administration, plus other teachers, takes its toll.   It`s a marathon not a sprint, but by the third month, you are often tired.  You need a new jolt of energy

I get myself out of burn out by asking myself: What would I like to do?

When I find something fun, the students often do too.

I also avoid or get out of burn out by trying new things.  Here are some suggestions from helpful teachers:

“The best thing I was a part of was called Video Appreciation and Production. Students were in groups of 4 or 5 for five weeks. They worked together in class on YouTube videos I presented in the first four weeks. In week 5 they presented videos they made together. Shuffle and repeat twice for a fun, challenging 15-week class.”

-A teacher in Saudi Arabia who has taught extensively in Japan as well

I used to play a game where each student was given a secret identity (the most popular version, each one was a different famous person, but I think it worked better when each one was a different inanimate object). You don’t know your OWN secret, but you do know the other three players’ secrets. They then have to give clues to one another to help them all guess who or what they are.

Example: The students might be a strawberry, whipped cream, ice cream, and slice of cake. Or a baseball pitcher, catcher, batter, and umpire. The players can tell you how you might interact with other players, or some facts about yourself, but they can never tell anyone directly what they are. You could also break it into teams, where you don’t know your own OR your partner’s ID to increase the difficulty.”

–a teacher who taught for some years in Japan


A teacher based in South Korea suggests:



It is grammar based but every grammar unit has activity sheets, pair/group activities and speaking board games

A non-teacher suggested the following:

Disc Golf… grow the sport (and talk too)

Some teachers teaching lower level classes have done this.  They have often gotten the students to write about the experience.

I often use handouts of two Breakingnewsenglish.com reading texts at student level. One half of the class gets copies of one; the other half the other text. Students have time to silently read text. Pairs (within the two “half” groups) discuss what they read and clarify meaning. Make new pairs from each half groups. Each person has 1.5 minutes to explain the text/ideas to partner. Rotate to make new pairs. Each person has 1 minute to explain the text/ideas to partner. Rotate to make new pairs. Each person has 30 seconds to explain the text/ideas to partner. Rotate partners. Each person has to summarize what they heard from the three previous partners about the text he/she DID NOT read. Further option if time: Students write a short summary of their text (not allowed to look at original). Further option if time: Students read the other text. The students enjoy the interaction, movement, energy, and challenge of trying to explain the information.”

“Here is an example of a handout. The additional content in the handout can be assigned as homework:  Example

–from a veteran university teacher, who has taught all over


One veteran teacher from Australia who also taught in Japan writes:

have you tried film-english.com
Lesson plans included and large range of topics. Highly communicative.”

Film English


Another suggests DnD in the classroom.  I have tried roleplaying.  I may try this too!

He writes:

Yeah. Roleplay game like Dnd… Any genre.. Works great to make conversation. Try murder mystery… Feed the students data as they solve clues.”


Great advice from veteran teachers and some interesting advice from a non-teacher.   Never dismiss the advice you get from a non-expert, they often think outside the box, and therefore are the most creative!

I hope you enjoyed this!  I know I found it helpful!  Thank you to all the teachers who responded!


Kevin Burns







Posted in Teaching, Universities | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Error Correction & Classroom Management

Error Correction

* Error – a result of faulty past learning, or attempting what is not yet or only incompletely learnt

* Mistake – a performance problem; the learner knows the correct version and may well correct themselves when prompted

* Slip/Lapse – a mistake caused by fatigue, carelessness etc. Often made by native speakers!

It is not always evident when a learner has made an error or mistake, although for the former they should be able to correct themselves. Errors are by their very nature more serious.

There are many types of errors/mistakes that can occur in the class:

* Grammar Errors – e.g. wrong tense or word order

* Vocabulary Errors – e.g. the wrong word or expression

* Pronunciation / Stress / Intonation Errors

* Comprehension Errors

* Pragmatic / Appropriacy Errors – e.g. speech is too formal / informal for the context


For example:

* I like gorilla cheese sandwich (Pron = grilled)

* Where you did go yesterday? (Gram = verb –noun agreement)

* The Policeman is tall (Pron = stress)

* I am here since Tuesday (Gram = wrong tense)

* I’m going to heat you (Pron = long I: sound)

* I am taller my sister (Vocab = missing word)

* I eat shocolate everyday (Pron = sh for ch sounds)

* Open that window! (Vocab = impolite & wrong word)

Who should Correct?

1. Indicate an error has been made and where the error is

2. Ask learner to self-correct

3. If they can’t, ask other learners

4. If they can’t, teacher corrects

5. Have learners to say the correct sentence/word

Different learners have different needs/wants with regards to error correction. For example: Learner A wants all their mistakes corrected while Learner B does not want any correction at all. Thus it is important to have a varied approach to correction and take learner needs into consideration. For example with the learners outlined above…

Learner A:

* Needs to be shown that there are times when fluency is more important than accuracy.

* Constant correction is demotivating.

* This leaner is probably aware that they learn from their mistakes

Learner B:

* Needs to be shown that sometimes accuracy is more important than fluency.

* Mistakes are a natural thing when learning anything new but we need to know we’ve made a mistake to learn from it.

* Might have had experience of negative or humiliating error correction

REMEMBER: Correction should always be positive

When to Correct?

Teachers need to decide when to correct errors either immediately or after the task. Below are some ideas as to what to correct when.

Errors should be corrected immediately when the focus is on accuracy, for example: during drilling, controlled practice activities, mistakes that affect understanding etc. While those that occur during fluency based tasks can be delayed until after the task so not to interrupt the learner’s fluency for example: during free speaking activities, presentations, basic errors.

How to Correct?

Having decided that error correction is important and when to correct, we must also look at how to correct.

* Gestures and facial expressions to show learners they have made a mistake.

* Hands to show an error with word order or tense.

* Fingers to show which word contains a mistake.

* Repeat the learner’s sentence up to the mistake.

* Repeat the mistake with intonation that shows which word is wrong.

* Use the whiteboard for a post activity (delayed) correction slot.

* Use a correction code for written work.

* Use terminology to show mistake, e.g. tense, preposition, is the sound /b/ or /v/?

* Refer learners to:

Reference books


Phonemic chart

Classroom Management

Classroom management incorporates a number of areas including classroom dynamics (getting the class to work well together), maximising learner talk time (STT) and stopping/reducing the use of Japanese (L1) in the class. Also gestures have an important role to play in the classroom: Supporting oral commands with physical gestures makes them easier to understand.

Getting learners to talk to each other in group and pair work and reporting back to the class on what they discussed etc is quite and easy to get a group used to and can help new learners integrate into the group quickly.

Pair-work is so important in class: as it maximises learner talk time (STT). This is vital as:: learners need to use language to process and remember it and to accomplish this in a group class is impossible if the teacher is centre-stage all the time as only one learner can speak.

Class dynamics means getting a class to work well together, not just individual learners listening only to the teacher. It is vital that teachers encourage learners to listen to each other. This can be harder than it sounds as some learners are used to only learning from a teacher and it can be hard to get the idea across that they can learn from other learners.

Ideas to get learners to listen to each other include:

* Do not echo (repeat what a learner has said, usually for the benefit of the rest of the class). If a learner has said something useful or something that other learner have not heard, get the learner to repeat it for the benefit of all.

* Personalise language so learners are using language to communicate experience or knowledge to each other.

* Have learners report back on what they have learnt from their partner so they are encouraged to listen carefully and remember what their partner has said.

* During group feedback, make sure everyone is listening and not checking their own answers or staring out of the window.

One drawback to pair-work in a monolingual environment is a tendency for the learners to slip into their L1 (first language). While there are ideas both supporting and refuting the usefulness of L1 in the language classroom reiterate that Shane’s policy is that NO Japanese should be used in the class. If participants feel that Japanese is useful with lower levels, explain that successful language grading should mean teachers can deal with any problems in English only.

Next ask if there are any situations when it is acceptable for learners to speak to each other in Japanese. There are definitely some activities that should be conducted only in English, speaking activities (controlled and free) fall into this category and it is important to remind learners that they should not use Japanese.

Having established that there are times when the teacher is going to be strict about learners only using English, how can we stop them?

How can we stop learners using their L1?

* Tell learners they should not use the L1. (It is easy for them to forget as it seems more natural to use their L1.) Incorporate it into the activity instructions.

* Remind learners if they start slipping into L1.

* If it is a big problem, keep a score and give minus points for each time pairs/groups slip into their L1.

* If a pair are chatting because they have finished early, give them something else to do or get them to work with another pair.

* Explain the importance of only using English to achieve the aim of the activity.

Avoiding L1 in pair and group work

* Make your rationale clear from the very beginning.

* Decide where you will be in the classroom so you are best placed to help everyone.

* Monitor more overtly.

* Keep speaking activities short until learners have more confidence and increased fluency.

* Making sure learners have enough English to do the tasks you set.

* Start with ‘open pair work’ as a model for ‘closed pair work’.

* Assign clear roles – learners know what tasks they have to do (e.g. language monitor).

* Feed in/teach communicative phrases.

How to Buy Event Tickets in Japan

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Classroom Safety

In teaching, and especially in teaching young learners, classroom safety should be our number 1 priority. Parents are entrusting us with their children and expect them to be safe and taken care of. As professionals dealing with children, any classroom accident is one accident too many. We should do everything in our power to plan and execute lessons safely.


Teaching children has more classroom safety issues than teaching adults as:

* Children lack ‘common sense’. Their experience base is much lower than adults so can’t recognise what might be dangerous.

* Children tend to regard everything as safe until proved otherwise.

* Children implicitly trust parents and authority figures. They will often presume that whatever you ask them to do must be completely safe, so will do it without question.

* Children can be unpredictable. They can move suddenly in unpredictable ways.

* Children are very emotional. They can get very involved in activities which are fun and so often lose a degree of control over themselves.

* Children can be unaware of others. They concentrate purely on what they are doing so are not aware of others moving around them.

The Classroom

While the classroom can seem safe there are things that need to be considered when teaching young learners. Below are some possible problems and solutions to make the classroom a safer place.

* Table: Problem – Running into it / Hiding under it – hitting their head / May trip children up. Solution: Move it out of the way for very young learners / Try to block it / Don’t have children moving close to it

* Chairs: Problem – May trip children up / Children can swing on them and fall off. Solution: Make sure they are out of the way, under the table / Enforce classroom rules, about things like swinging on chairs

* Door: Problem – Children may hit the door handle / Very young learners may try to open it / Often contain glass/windows. Solution: Never have the door as an area to go to during physical activities / If necessary position yourself in front of the door

* Windows & Blinds: Problem – Blinds may have strings that could catch children / Window handles may stick out / Children may try to open the windows / Windows can crack if children hit them. Solution: Move hazards out of the way / Never have children moving quickly towards glass / Position yourself in front of the window if necessary

* Cupboard: Problem – Children may catch on the edge of it / Children may try to open it / Children may catch fingers when closing it. Solution: Avoid children moving towards or across it / Don’t allow children access if you think there may be issues

* Whiteboard: Problem – The whiteboard may have a pen rail that sticks out / Not affixed firmly to the wall. Solution: Avoid overly physical activities / Used for slower paced activities / Stand near the board in case of issues

* Floor (carpeted or tiled): Problem: Children may slip on a tiled floor / Children may trip on the edge of a carpet / An unsecured carpet/mat may slip if children jump on it too enthusiastically. Solution:


Examine the area before classes / Do not have children moving in an unsafe way e.g. jumping, hopping, if there are any issues with your room

* Wall: Problem – Children may run into it. Solution: Control the movement of the children

* CD Player: Problem – Cable may be dangling./ Children could pull it off a cupboard. Solution: Tuck away all cables / Push it out of the way / Put it away until it is needed

* Bags: Problem – Children could trip over bags. Solution: Make sure bags are placed in safe locations, e.g. on the back of the chair

* Board pens: Problem – Children may get them on their clothes / Children may trip and hit themselves or someone else with the pen. Solution: Children should not be moving whilst holding the pen / If necessary the child should move to the board, then pick up the pen

Most solutions are basic ideas of avoidance. Objects in the classroom can be hazards during physical activities. The key factor in classroom safety is recognising the problem in advance; accidents can be avoided by anticipating what might occur.

The Learners

Different age groups/learners bring different issues and potential problems with regards to classroom safety.

2- 6 year olds 6+ year olds

* Can move unpredictably

* Have less control over emotions

* Can get over excited

* Very kinaesthetic & will try to touch / take


* Have low experience base so don’t know

what can be dangerous

* Often unaware of other people/objects in

the classroom * Have grown physically & can be unaware of this * Enjoy physical games but can be over involved * Can be too competitive, so will try too hard in physical activities * Are stronger than they sometimes realise * Enjoy physically interacting with others, lack boundaries * Can react without thinking, especially when emotional


It is important to consider the materials used in the classroom as well. For example:

* Alphabet mat – Children may go for the same letter and crash into each other, mats can slip on a tiled floor

* Flashcards – Cards have relatively sharp edges and can be thrown

* Sticky Ball – This is quite hard and can hurt if thrown at someone. It can also become attached to out of reach areas, e.g. the ceiling/clock etc which can cause breakages or encourage them to try to retrieve it.

* Beach Ball – Although light it can be thrown with some force and could damage loose articles e.g. glasses, as well as cause some children to lose balance and fall

* Foam blocks – Learners may throw them at each other, could cause children to trip/stumble

* Plastic fruit – Very young learners may try to eat them or put them in their mouth, could cause children to trip/stumble

* Plastic animals – Very young learners may try to put them in their mouth. Some can be quite hard, could be thrown.

* Tea set – Hard plastic objects which can hurt if fallen on or pushed into someone. Very young learners may put them in their mouth.

* Building blocks – Very small blocks can be a choking hazard. Learners can make larger objects which are then dangerous if thrown, or hit with etc. Some blocks have relatively hard or sharp edges.

However, the materials encourage creative play and use of language, allowing learners to interact in a more natural way with/in English. By nature young learners are very kinaesthetic and learn through play and toys.


In anticipating potential problems in the classroom it is possible to avoid issues before they cause problems.

For example:

Stations: Teacher places ‘yes’ and ‘no’ cards on the opposite sides of the room. Teacher calls out ‘do you like…?’ questions (e.g. Do you like ice cream?) Learners run to touch the card which is true for them.

* Possible Problem: Learners could run into each other / fall over / trip each other up.

* Solution: Learners start in the centre of the room. They should not be running towards each other. Don’t put the focus on speed. Learners could perform an action whilst moving to the station.

Volleyball: In 2 teams, on either side of the classroom, learners hit the ball from one side to the other counting upwards. If one side allows the ball to touch the ground they lose a point.

* Possible Problem: Learners may hit the ball too hard at each other or collide with each other.

* Solution: Let some air out of the ball so it is softer. Have each team member set up their own designated area to reduce crashes. Limit the number of players a turn – the others could be referee or scorer.

Run & circle: Teacher writes one set of target language/vocabulary on the board. In teams learners line up with a pen and when the teacher calls out one of the target items one person from each team runs to the board to circle the correct item. Then run to the back of the room, touch the wall and say the target item.

* Possible Problem: Learners are running and might start crashing/running into the board or wall. They might get in each other’s way and start pushing or colliding with each other. The board could come away from the wall or fall down.

* Solution: Have a set of vocab for each team. Make sure there is a clear path to the board and back, with all tables, chairs, bags etc out of the way. Learners hop or crawl to the board to slow them down. Everyone has a designated spot out of the way to wait when it is not their turn.

Song: We like to walk. Learners & teacher move round the classroom performing the actions to the song (walk, skip, go to sleep, run, hop, jump).

* Possible Problem: Learners may bump into each other or collide, move in different directions, may bump into classroom objects, get over excited and start running.

* Solution: Make sure learners know all the actions and movements by practicing in advance. Always have them moving in one direction. Make sure there is a clear path with no tables, chairs, bags in the way. Don’t chase them or allow them to chase you.

Alphamat: Teacher connects the alphamat together to build a path. Teacher then scatters the letters around the classroom and learners collect the letters and put them in the correct mat.

* Potential Problem: Learners may collide with each other, fight over who has the letter, or hit each other with the letters.

* Solution: Don’t have learners going for the same letter; give them each a separate target. Allocate a letter relatively close to themselves so they don’t bump into each other. Alternatively: Learners could perform a relay, one gets a letter and then ‘tags’ the next person to go. Goal should be clear and give them lots of praise on completion – when the letter is put into the mat.

Sticky Ball: Teacher draws or writes the target language on the board, then calls out one of the items. Learners throw the sticky ball at the correct item.

* Potential Problem: Learners may hit others with the ball, get out of hand and start throwing the ball harder or in a dangerous fashion.

* Solution: Assign clear roles so everyone knows where they should be standing when throwing or waiting their turn. Learners should only have one attempt each turn; this should focus them more on accuracy than strength. Learners could use their non-dominant hand (i.e. right handers use their left).

As a general rule, if there are any doubts about an activity, or think the learners may have a problem with it, do not do it.

How do you make sure your classroom is safe?

Sophia McMillan

Shane English School


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How to get off your GERD meds?

How to get off your GERD meds? If you have been scared about some of the side effects of some of the GERD meds here are some tips:

-elevate the head of your bed

-loosing weight will help

-cut down caffeine

-smaller more frequent meals

-if your symptoms are severe and persistent you shouldn’t go off your meds for gerd

-Perhaps discuss with your doctor

*If you decide to stop meds .. for gerd..cut down the dose for a few weeks…then take it every 2nd day then only when you have symptoms.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. This is not medical advice.

^I am a Vancouver Canucks fan!

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Study English for Free!

If you live near Kamiasao, and you are interested in learning English for free, read on!

Read More

united kingdom marching band

Photo by David Jakab on Pexels.com

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Feeling Bloated Teacher?

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare). The seeds, leaves, and roots of the fennel plant are readily available in many forms including plain seeds, sugar-coated seeds, extract, oil, and capsules. All offer a natural way to help relieve gas. When shopping, note that fresh fennel seeds should have a strong aroma, and other forms should have a freshness date. Simply chew and swallow one-half  read more

Eggs and baked potatoes can also help with bloat.

*On a personal note- Fennel seeds in capsule form have worked for me. I bought mine from iherb.com

How ALTs can take Sick Leave

Kevin’s English Schools

I am Hakone

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Culture in the Language Classroom

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Graduate College of Education



Distinguished Lecturer Series

Culture in the Language Classroom: Towards an Intercultural Pedagogy for Teaching English as a Foreign Language/World Language

Dr. Jonathan Newton (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand)




Saturday, February 16, 2019Time:


TUJ Tokyo Center, Azabu Hall (Access Map)Admission:

Free (See details)Registration:

Sign Up Online 

An often overlooked truth about language teaching is that the language teacher is a teacher of culture whether they know it or not or whether they like it or not. Culture and language are intertwined; language constructs and sustains culture just as culture shapes the language choices available to us and the impact of our language choices on others. In simple terms, “Every time we speak we perform a cultural act” (Kramsch, 1993).

Read the full seminar description »

 Sign Up for the Seminar



Upcoming Seminars in Spring 2019


March 2-3

Optimizing Second Language Practice in the Classroom: Applying Insights from Cognitive/Educational Psychology to Second Language Learning

Dr. Yuichi Suzuki (Kanagawa University, Japan)

 Upcoming Seminars





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TUJ Graduate College of Education, Tokyo Center

2-8-12 Minami Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0047

Tel: 03-5441-9842

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The Tokyo ETJ English Language Teaching Expo

Saturday/Sunday February 23/24 (9:00-6:00 each day)

Otsuma Women’s University, Tokyo

(near Ichigaya station)

Presentation Schedule

120 presentations on a wide variety of topics

Saturday Presentation Schedule


Sunday Presentation Schedule



Information including a map with directions




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, all day or part of a day

There are independent presentations arranged in time slots throughout the two days. This means you can drop into the Expo for just some of the time if you are busy.

Displays of teaching materials and services for teachers

The following will be having displays at the Expo:

AGO, Bingo Bongo Kids, Cambridge Exams, Cengage Learning, Dave and Amy Games, David Lisgo, Easy Fun English, English Connect 365, ETJ Book Service, ETJ Book Service International, ETJ Job Service, FETJ, Fun Bridge English Songs, Hamilton House, Independent Publishers International (IPI) / Nellie’s, JALT, Modern English Publishing, My English School, My Team Camp, Nuthouse Education, Oxford University Press, Pocket Passport, Rob Waring, Study Cat, Tanuki Games, Tryalogue Education


Fee for attending the Expo

ETJ members: 500 yen

Non-members: 1,000 yen

Join ETJ

(no fee)



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newsletters, reply to this email with ‘unsubscribe’ as the subject

Sent to: kevinsenglishschools@hotmail.com

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ETJ Book Service

A few important changes were made to the ETJ Book Service during the Christmas/New Year period including almost 1.000 new books, cards and games were added to the site. The stock of some books published by independent publishers in Japan has also recently been increased increased to avoid delays with the materials.

By ordering through the ETJ Book Service, you help make it possible for ETJ to continue as a free association supporting English teachers in Japan

ETJ Book Service
Over 16,000 books, resources, games . . .

There is a 20% discount on all materials sold through the site and free shipping on orders over 5,000 yen before discount and tax.

ETJ Book Service International
A selection of imported materials that are appropriate for teachers in Japan.

Best wishes,

David Paul


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