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VIDEO: Extensive Reading EFL Class Orientation

I was hoping to post this video yesterday, but I ran into technical problems (three of the students wandered into the shot, and I wasn’t comfortable posting something with students’ faces visible without getting permission from them and the university). Much easier to just try again with another class this morning 🙂

So, this is the first session of one of my extensive reading classes at Tohoku University. This is the orientation class, so we briefly run through what ER is and how our ER program works. After the video ends, the students start reading low-level graded readers. We managed to get about fifteen minutes of silent reading in class.

The ER@TU program is described in our forthcoming bilingual handbook. I will have a few copies of this to give away at the ACLL later this month, the Pan-SIG conference in May, the ER World Congress in September, and JALT National in October -please let me know if you want one or just come and find me at the conference.

Please post any questions below or on the Facebook page.

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I have a dream… for Japan’s English education


I was very negative about the Japanese government’s proposal to use TOEFL to screen university applicants. It’s easy to criticize, to offer up reasons why things won’t work. It makes you feel important, contributing to the conversation in that way. It even feels productive sometimes, like you are saving people from making mistakes.

I still think indiscriminately imposing the TOEFL test on students in Japan is a flawed idea, and next week on this blog I am going to offer up some alternatives.

I will post my suggestions on how I think English education in Japan can be improved at the primary (elementary school), secondary (junior and senior high school), and tertiary (university) levels.

And then you can all have a go at criticizing me 🙂


* give yourself a pat on the back if you know who the guy in the picture is

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VIDEO Oxford Teaching Workshop Series 2013: Creating a Reading Program for Young Learners

This year I was very fortunate to be invited to be part of the Oxford Teaching Workshop Series, presenting in four cities in Japan this spring. This video is from the Okayama session:

Please tell me about your reading program in the comments.

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New Penguin Kids Titles

Penguin Kids new titles 2013

I first reviewed this series here.

Just to recap, this is a fantastic resource for young beginners who are just getting started with graded readers. The books are extremely attractive and have interesting content. The levels start very low at level 1 (200 headwords) and only go up in jumps of 200 from there up to level 6 (1200 headwords).

I received the new titles for this year last week. Unlike last year’s releases, which were all based on Disney titles, this year’s books are a mixture of new Disney material alongside non-fiction content.

I really like the non-fiction books. They have big, attractive photographs and are interesting. I tried them out with some students yesterday (just put them on the desk as they came into class and let them read before we started) and I had difficulty getting them to put the books down so we could start the class! Always a good sign.

If you have a reading library for children or teenagers this series is well worth a look, especially now that it has its full 12 books per level.

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Okayama and Osaka Oxford Teaching Workshops

I would just like to thank everyone who turned out for the Okayama and Osaka Oxford Teaching Workshops. I had a great time meeting and talking to you, and the many questions really helped me see where my presentation needs more work 🙂

As promised, here are the slides I used for my presention


Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.