Monday, February 07, 2011

Being an ALT #7: Physical Resources

This week we'll cover some of the objects you can use in your lessons.

The 100 yen store is your friend for this one, but some things are also best bought in bulk from the internet.

Read on.

In the 100 yen store you can buy a multitude of useful school items. Just walking around one will give you ideas. Some useful items are play money, maps, dice (regular and big fluffy ones), flashcard containers (good for holding cards/counters for games), paper trays (keep that desk tidy!), chopsticks (see the Salty Snail game), paper plates and wool for mask making etc etc etc etc.

You'll need to do some legwork on this one to see what suits you, and of course you'll have to spend some money. My Board of Education used to give us a modest budget for this, but changed their minds a couple of years ago.

But you have to spend money to make money, right?... well, no, I guess you don't. But if your lessons are stagnant and repetitive your students won't respond and you won't grow as a teacher, and a couple of thousand yen a year isn't going to break the bank.

You may find the perfect tool for you somewhere else for a little more money. My advice is to buy it. Other teachers/the school will appreciate your dedication, and you'll feel good about yourself!

Also, stickers. Despite being potentially too old for a cute little sticker to motivate them, you'll find that students do actually respond to them. As a reward for bingo, some other game, or just a good piece of work they go down a treat. You can buy these in the hundred yen store, too. Or you can find them in massive quantities on eBay - big savings to be made there.

And of course for festive lessons - like xmas, easter, thanksgiving, things like that - it adds a lot to the class if you can bring in traditional decorations. If you can't simply make them, then having them sent over or bringing them to Japan yourself will make the kids happy and really impress your co-workers. That goes for other examples of your culture -clogs from Holland, Marmite from England, Twinkies from the USA, salt from Salt Lake City. If it's foods the kids can sample then you'll gain even more credibility with them.

Well, there was nothing revolutionary this time but I hope it was of some help, especially to those just starting out in the ALT/ELT world. If you have any other suggestions then please share them with us in the comments.

See you next week!


  1. I've also used 100-yen-shop poker chips to keep track of score in games with two teams. You can also take them back as a "fine" (*bakin*) to kids who act up. The carrot becomes the stick. At the end of the lesson you get the chips back.

  2. And decks of cards. Good for learning numbers and for comparisons (bigger/smaller).