1980 ~ 1990 The Beginning

I began wondering how to get students to speak out naturally. I joined AETC (Association of English Teachers of Children), which was the first organization to present practical workshops for children. It was started by Camy Condon, but she returned to the US the following year, and I took over as chairperson, and continued as a volunteer for the next 23 years. We gave practical workshops in Tokyo and Osaka and had great speakers to come and share their expertise on teaching children.

However, it became apparent that students love playing games and singing songs, but teachers had a problem with what to do with them before and after an activity. The students were bored, but couldn’t do the activities by themselves.

I was experimenting with lots of ways to teach, among them, TPR. I thought I was doing TPR, but my students were speaking, asking and answering questions to EACH OTHER! With TPR, the kids don’t learn to speak. What I was doing was getting the kids to speak with action, so I named my method, MAT (Model, Action, Talk). With MAT the students could talk 80% of class time, learn to read and write and be independent learners. I began telling teachers how to really teach, not just play games. Then I decided to start a new organization, the IIEEC Teacher Training Center, which helps teachers learn how to teach and get students to really learn and enjoy English.

In the meantime I was asked to help write the workbooks and teacher’s manual for a series called Happy Talk, published by ASK Co. These were a series of cute short stories with cassette tapes. At the same time, I became the Head Teacher Trainer at Core Junior Club (Tokyo Jido Gakuin). I traveled all over Japan to train teachers, and even now some of the teachers have their own schools and are continuing teaching with MAT. At CJC, I also wrote their 6 level texts and teaching manuals.

During this time, I was asked to write ABC Land and ABC Playroom for Goken. These texts were targeted for pre-school children and were based on the MAT METHOD. These two books are among my favorites of all the materials I had written until then. Then I wrote three levels for upper graders called English Shuttle by Astro Kyoiku Systems which also reflected the MAT METHOD.

I was also asked to help with the Addison Wesley Picture Dictionary around this time. The actual layout, contents and “story line” with the mouse were my ideas, and this book became the best selling picture dictionary in the US. A British version was also made of this book. Then I made an A-W Picture Dictionary Pack with tapes in Japanese and original songs that I wrote. This was also translated into Chinese to be sold in the Chinese market.

Around this time I began to write my book about the MAT METHOD. The title eventually became Koushite Oshieru Kodomono Eigo. I wanted to write a resource book for teachers, not like the many books that tell teachers what they should teach, but I wanted to show HOW they could teach many things easily with just a few twists to their own teaching. With illustrations and pictures, I wrote the step by step process of how to hold cards effectively, how to flip them and how to make the cards interesting visual aids that help kids really learn. I also should how tenses, infinitives, adverbs could be taught easily without lots of explanation. My unique MAT PHONICS using gestures and sound subtraction is introduced here also. This is where the words, KEY WORDS were taught to keep teachers’ Japanese explanations to a minimum and students’ output to the maximum. I also listed a detailed lesson plan of how to plan lessons and teach them.

This prolific decade was spent teaching, teacher training, traveling and writing texts for language schools and teachers. I am deeply appreciative and indebted to my children and husband and cats who were very tolerant and supportive of my work.