A few days ago

Teaching ESL?

I just got hired last-minute to teach ESL for three weeks to a group of junior high and high school kids from Japan (15-20 kids). From what I understand, they have very low English skills and I am supposed to teach them a lot of basic vocab and phrases.

The problem is that I don’t have a textbook to work out of, and no real guidelines set up by the school I’m working with in terms of specific content. Also, I have the same group of students for 5 hours each day, and I’m afraid I’ll run out of things to keep them interested for that long! I’ve searched around the net and found some good conversation starters and a few games here and there, but I’m getting nervous about keeping their attention and delivering meaningful instruction. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Top 9 Answers
A few days ago
Mellie G

Favorite Answer

Try going on websites for worksheets


I know they have stuff for ESL kids.

Here are some other web sites for ESL















There are many more go to this site for the full list http://www.sitesforteachers.com/cgi-bin/autorank/search.cgi?key=ESL


A few days ago
Most Japanese kids don’t learn much English in elementary school but English education is compulsory in high school and Junior high school. So you might find sokme of them seem like total beginners and some of them know soem stuff but unless they have been attending provate schools most of them will be 0-2 on a scale of 1-10.

If it is only for three weeks remember that you are not going to make a huge amount of progress and they are mainly there for the experience.

I would start with assessing levels by getting them to write introductions which you can then check. These intorductions can be read if they are good, or if poor spend the rest of the day teaching them the basis=cs and letting them correct their errors.

Most of them will probably be able to say my name is…., but not much more. High school students will be able to say where they live etc but probably nothing too fancy.

I would teach them self introductions, move onto basic introductory conversations where they talk about their home town and family etc.

They should be encouraged to perform these mock conversations in class with their peers. They will no doubt have opportunity to use this English ourtside of lass and therefore they will feel like they are making real progress.

Whilst working on this I would also review/teach things that they will find useful, such as how to communicate effectively/politely with their host families.

For examaple, In what ways muight they be invited and what is the appropriate response?

Help them with shopping langauge etc.

Directions and public transport and comminly taught but not that useful if they are only here for three weeks. But what they do if they get lost is useful. What do they say to the taxi driver.

Apologies for being late for dinner/ class etc.

Whilst they have the opportunity to use Englisgh I suggest you stick to functional stuff that they will actually use while they are there. Theyw ill have plenty of time to focus on grammar and vocab without application in japan.

Be confident.


5 years ago
If your accent is clear and speak like a real native English speakers, then many school will find a way to accept you if you have a TEFL certificate. Thais expect you to speak slowly and clearly so they can follow up what you are saying or teaching. However, the pay may not be enough for what you are expecting. The highest paid is more or less One Thousand US dollars per month, at the average. P.S. = Many from Australia, Canada and the USA are teaching here in Thailand now with work permit. The thing is you should find a school that will spnsor you and they will do the rest for you, visa and work permit. They know how to do it! By the way, how “young” are you now? From what country are you from? Are you legally married to your wife? The last question will hlelp you further to get a visa here in Thailand! PS.. Get a one-year visa, where you have to get out of the country every three months, to renew for another three months. You usually just go to the border and get another three months entension. Very convenient than getting out of the country for a long time, You usually cross the border for an hour or two and could get back to Thailand immediately. In those months, you can finish your TOFEL course and you can already find a school to employ you. . Welcome to Thailand! A country you will like and love!

A few days ago
OK, first you should realize that most states require something like 12 hours of graduate work in Teaching English as a Second Language in order to be ESL certified. Usually, this is the first 12 of a 30-36 hour TESOL Master’s degree. So, don’t feel bad that you aren’t sure what to do.

Before offering a string of suggestions, I’d ask why these kids are in your area. Are they traveling elsewhere? Is the main purpose of their trip English immersion? How much English instruction have they had prior to meeting you?

If they’ve had little instruction, and you are there for basic instruction, then your topics will look like those suggested above. If they have had a fair amount of English, already, then you may find that they are more interested in specific subjects that they AREN’T covering in their classes, back home.

If that’s the case, you may want to talk about some things they are very familiar with: personal electronics, cell phones, computers and the internet, etc. My friends that taught in Japan told me that the kids know technology inside and out, so this will be interesting and relevant for them. You can move from very simple sentences and questions to some relatively advanced stuff, just by building on their tech vocabulary. Don’t be surprised if many of them know most of the terms you’re going to introduce (in other words, pull out your cell phone manual and know the names for everything! Better yet, enlarge and make a tranparency or scan the image and use with a video projector, so the kids can see an image and read the words, while you talk about the parts or functions.

Ask them what they want to be able to say. Bring pictures or picture dictionaries and books with lots of illustrations, so they can look through them, when you take breaks. That way, they can show you what they want to know, even if they don’t know the words.

As for teaching, some of the best exercises I’ve seen work like this: You say a very simple sentence ‘This is a phone’ and have them repeat it. You repeat, they repeat, you repeat, they repeat. Then, go around the room. You just point, and each person you point to repeats by themself. If someone makes a mistake, point to the last person that got it right. Once you’ve been around the room, add some detail to the sentence ‘This is a cell phone’… ‘This is a blue phone’. Repeat 3 times with the group. Go around the room. Add detail–or play a sound from the phone. ‘The blue phone rings.’ Repeat 3 times, go around the room. In 20 minutes, you can build up to ‘The blue phone rings loudly, and my mother is calling me to come home’ (provided you’ve done the family vocab, or they know it) or something similarly complex. These are great speaking exercises that the teacher simply directs after the first few repetitions, and the students build speaking fluency quickly.

Once you’ve done this several times, you can encourage them to say it a little bit quicker each time, to build greater fluency. If they know past tense, future tense, etc., you can switch tenses, each repetition, so they practice saying things in the past, present, and future tense.

Also, always use lots of pictures and act things out, but for this particular exercise, I would wait until the end to show them vocab illustrations, so they focus on speaking skills. Then, at the end, give them a few minutes to review the vocab you have used. Another twist is to put the vocab up after you have practiced for 15-20 minutes, then ask them to change one word each time someone repeats the sentence, so they are making new sentences every time.

Also, and this is extremely important, repeat what you did for the last several days at the beginning of each new day, so the students continue to practice! You can’t do something for one day and quit. Hardly any of them will remember. On the other hand, one quick review of each topic should be plenty, unless you are building a lot of new vocabulary on top of the previous day’s work.

So, regardless of the type of topics the students need and want to study, there are several activities to help them practice speaking skills.

Also, set conversations are great for building their basic conversational skills and ability to respond appropriately in social situations (also, please keep in mind that Japanese people tend to be very formal, so teach them to POLITELY ask for and refuse things, then explain that people aren’t always so formal): ‘Hello, my name is XXX. What’s your name?’ ‘My name is XXX. It is a pleasure to meet you.’ ‘No, the pleasure is all mine. So, what brings you here?’

You can have the students say a simple dialog (perhaps a bit longer) using different names that you supply, then they can move about the room practicing with each other. Make sure they take turns starting the conversation, since your girls may take a backseat role…

And, by all means, read up a bit on what to expect from your boys and girls. Make sure they ALL participate.

I know this answer is somewhat longer than the others, but I read your question as though you were asking for specific activities that you can do in class, not just topics. I hope this gives you some ideas!

V Pitman

(AP Certified Spanish teacher and ESL Certified English instructor)


A few days ago
embroidery fan
There’s a video called “Muzzy” to teach Spanish & French. See if you can get hold of one, because each one comes with an English version. Use it as the basis for lots of your lessons.

Get children’s picture books with only 1-3 words on a page from the library. Have the students do activities in groups of 2, rotating through the books (so it’ll last longer!)…figuring out what they think the words mean, discussing the words, reciting the words together as a group.

Teach songs! They are great for easy vocab. development.


A few days ago
Here’s my basic scope and sequence for beginners. Sure, some won’t work for you; I have to add math, science, and social studies. But it will give you an idea:

Classroom objects/furniture and school supplies

Classroom rules/safety and practice drills

Around the school – places and people

Conduct initial assessments (so you can show progress later)

Telling time, class schedules and courses




Numbers (both cardinal and ordinal)

Alphabet sounds (phonics)

Vowels and consonants

Basic math operations

Calendar – days of week, months of year, seasons

Weather (can include clothing, too)

Family members




Rooms of the house, furniture, appliances

Parts of the body, senses, clothing via body parts

Meals, food groups, food

Dishes and utensils, pots and pans


Adding and subtracting money

Restaurants, menus

Map basics (directions, hemispheres, latitude/longitude, continents, poles, equator, etc.)

Timeline, diagrams, charts and graphs, graphing points

Place value

Fractions, decimals, percents

Reading word problems

Lab equipment and safety

States of matter

Water cycle


Food chain

Review alphabet, consonants, vowels


Rhyming words

Synonyms, antonyms

Using a dictionary

Narrative elements (characters, settings, plot, etc.)

At this point, start reading short stories, like preschool level

Once you get to this point, start reading a lot and discussing the stories. You want to add to their vocabulary through reading. But also you want to work on grammar and such, so start hitting the parts of speech. This is the order I suggest you go in.









Get a basic grammar book to get the specifics on a good scope and sequence for parts of speech. I would give you mine, but I don’t have it at home. It’s up at school, and I can’t get to it for a few more weeks.

Email me if you want specifics on any one of these lessons: [email protected]


A few days ago
When I took French in high school, our teacher had us write short dialogues and present them in class. We had a set of vocabulary words to use and phrases or verb tenses to employ. It was always fun and it really lets you practice with your peers because you are actually writing it out and speaking it aloud instead of just parroting an intstructor. And other students get to hear it as well, which is good for them because they can then learn to judge by ear when something is or is not correct–and that increases their own language skills. I’d suggest that after you get the ball rolling with some basics you can have them start writing. Even really simple stuff, i.e., “Hello, my name is —, how are you?” is a step in the right direction.

And maybe you can find an English basics textbook on Amazon or something, just to give the class a bit of structure.


A few days ago
Start by setting general objectives from the needs of the students, maybe through a needs analysis. From the general objectives, develop weekly objectives. And of course, from these, develop daily objectives. Now, you are ready to develop your lesson plans. There is a very good example of lesson planning in Jeremy Harmer´s The Practice of English Language Teaching. The book is a very complete guide into English language Teaching. I highly recommend it.

Don´t forget that lessons are not disconnected activities. They should be congruent, sequential, with clearly stated aims and objectives. Likewise, these aims and objectives should be understood by both you and your students. Otherwise you run the risk of having activities that may be fun but go nowhere. And how will you be able to evaluate their learning if you don´t know what students needed to accomplish?

One final comment, you mention that the students need to learn vocabulary and pronunciation. Don´t forget to contextualize it. Students find it very hard to understand isolated bits of information. They have to connect it to something, the context.

I have added a link to the book I referred to above.

Good luck in Japan!


A few days ago
country ??

hv u tried the local bookstore the library, tv.

stretch your imagination – get ideas fr the web on things to do / see .

eg everyday life things – travel, food, exercise, medicine, playthings, television, films, – get ideas and turn it around for the kids.

go to virtues.com and teach them good habits