■Trying MAT out in my class, I found that the lesson was less time consuming, and much noisier than before. The students really seemed to be concentrating, which is very hard for active 4 year olds to do. The actions actually helped them blow off some extra steam, and the class was more productive and fun than always.
■During my first class of using the MAT Method the head teacher from the BOE came to watch the class. He saw how much fun the students were having and that they were actually learning how to use English. I’m hoping that the BOE will realize how important it is for the students to start to learn how to write, read and speak English starting from the 1st grade and not waiting until they start JHS. And I think that with using the MAT Method and having the students being able to understand English and use it, it might change the way of the English teaching style in Japan.
■I had always imagined that English should be taught very slowly, word for word and as a result I never realized how much this could hinder a child’s ability to speak English in a confident and natural way.
■Enjoyed how clear and natural the speaker’s English was. It was a pleasure to just listen.
■I used to notice anxiety in my students, maybe they thought making a mistake when speaking English was embarrassing. But now, little by little they can express themselves in English clearly and confidently.
■Before I knew about MAT, I used to ask the questions to the students and they would just answer them. But after I started teaching with the MAT Method, students can do pair work, even the new students. They look very satisfied having a conversation between themselves.
■The Japanese government thinks that there will be more Japanese who can speak/use English by adding English as a subject in elementary schools. However their curriculum is not well balanced. They focus on listening and speaking. In junior high schools, they divide English classes into ‘oral’ and ‘English (grammar)’. This is not “Living English”. (…) I always keep in my mind that a teacher must/should be a learner. When a teacher stops learning or improving his/her English (if the teacher is not a native speaker), he/she will lose students. Especially for Japanese teachers including me, it is essential to practice and improve pronunciation.
■I had never applied teaching words and sentences using word cards. Once I learnt the way to use them in the workshops, I found the very interesting fact that the students want to learn them as eagerly as they do for picture cards.
■I’m very glad that my son who just turned 3 years old can do the same actions that my 6 years old daughter can do. There may be a 3 year gap in between my children, but they both like the lessons about verb sentences, and it doesn’t look like they have 3 year gap.
■I was really dumbfounded to find that the littlest things, like not showing students cards, would make such a huge negative impact on the concentration levels of the kids.
■Showing visual aids is good for students to remember something. Children really like to look at pictures. They really get interested in the lesson when I show some pictures. I could feel the importance of visual aids during the lesson. So even when I teach how to read and how to write, I want to show some visual aids with the words.
■For my application, I and my husband watched an American movie then we took some lines and pretended as the characters in the film. Then even as the days past we can still remember the lines including the action the characters made.
■Elder students in grade 5 or 6 don’t like to act or sing or speak loudly. At every lesson, I used to tell them to say “Speak louder.” “Let’s sing together.” “Let’s move.” After I attended the workshop, I tried to speak to them louder than before with a big smile and I used a lot more gestures. As I kept doing this, they also gradually spoke louder with gestures. I was so excited to see that they did.
■In my previous teaching style the students only enjoyed doing card games. It was fun but they were only able to memorize the words. The problem was that they could not use the words they had learned effectively. After changing my lesson style to the MAT Method and using many more activities, the students have totally changed. They are able to use words more naturally and remember them far better.
■With them having fun learning English it will prove to the BOE that children can have fun and learn English at the same time. Most BOEs think that the students should only play games at English time or the students won’t have fun. I want to prove to them that they can have fun and learn English at the same time and I think that with using the MAT Method it is possible.
■The techniques we learned in using the flashcards were awesome.
■I tried teaching verbs in my class, and it worked great. First, they enjoyed doing the gestures and they said the sentences at the same time. Since they used the both sides of the brain simultaneously, they learned the sentences and the verbs really quickly. And I realized that by doing this, it makes it easier to review. When you review, all you have to do is to show the gestures, you don’t need to speak and explain for a long time.
■On my first day of teaching in preschool I was a little bit nervous. As I started my class, as expected, some kids were running around, others were playing by themselves and some of them were not interested at all. It was a very stressful day for me as well as for students. I made my voice loud in order to be heard and my students were anxious with it. When I came to the workshop and learned about MI, it made me think that whatever effort I will do just to make them listen will not work as long as I do not know my students and the learning process they need in class. In two weeks time it really gave me a relief looking at them sitting nicely during the morning circle and receiving response…
I was thinking of my lessons during this lecture. And I thought I am doing my classes from the teacher’s point of view. Although each class has different students, some games worked well in one class, but sometimes, it didn’t work well in another and I blamed it on my students.
■I was very surprised how much the kids liked clapping their hands saying the sentences. And at the end of the lesson, one boy said to me Omoshirokatta, so he is probably rhythm and music smart. It was the first time a child spontaneously thanked me for a lesson, and it never would have happned if I had not come to these workshops.
■Until I took these classes, I never thought about the concept that students must be required to use complete sentences and that knowing just the nouns even though that is a sufficient answer in many conversational settings, doesn’t give the kids the experience they need with the sentence framework.
■In teaching reading, I will present a big flashcards for vocabulary words. While for the abstract words, I can have it printed with a different color so if I put it into sentence combination, the students can easily understand the difference of nouns from the particles or abstract words.
■Many important points were made about introducing reading in EFL. I like how everything is kept as simple as possible, eg., turning cards upside down for “NO”. I really like the simplicity of the Word Cards. Very clear. Reading while speaking looks very valuable for improving reading skills as early as possible.
■This workshop sets out to break some conventions by introducing “reading” as soon as possible. The important point is even though the children can’t read yet, as we would normally define as reading, they can however, recognize the words and sentences they have learned to say and understand. I think this is a huge advantage, as it also brings the phonics lessons and alphabet lessons into whole language and into the natural way to speak and read a language.
■The new words section in the text can be used for reading practice, writing practice, and/or vocabulary building, whatever the students wish to do. They can also do reading practice only for those words they have trouble speaking. I will be labeling it as “My Challenge Section”.
■For my application, I made my own workbook. First I read a story to my student then made questions. For my student understand better as I read to him the question we go back to the story where the answer of the questions is. I let him write it in full sentence and let him practice that until he can do it on his own and then made him read his own writing and then I ask him orally the question and he was able to answer back.
■I tried to do the same activity that I learned at the workshop. I let my daughter find the word “what” in the handout, circle the word, and count how many “what” she found. She really enjoyed this activity. I noticed an interesting thing when I teach her English. She shows more interest and curiosity when I tell her “Let’s play games in English 英語のゲームやるよー” than telling her “Let’s study English さぁ英語やるよー”
■I did everything step by step, as I learned at the seminar. I used Japanese for the key words, so the students knew what they were doing in the lesson. They didn’t get lost when we did the third person singular. I didn’t have to take time to explain everything, which I was surprised. I thought it would have been more difficult to teach it as a grammar lesson.
■I saw a very quick improvement with my student who lacks focus and is hyperactive. As his teacher, I have to hold his hand and have to write with him. I asked him to trace several letters, but I had to turn my attention to my other students for a while. When I returned to him again he had traced five letters nicely! I said to him “good job”, “you did it” with a big smile and hugged him. He realized that I praised him with all my heart. For the last few weeks, every time we do art or writing in class, this boy shows improvement and interest in the lesson.
■I sometimes struggle with some students who disturb others and the class. But to solve this problem, getting children’s trust is the most important thing. If teachers show our interest to the students, they talk about their situations and so on. And, students start to open their hearts to the teachers and begin to behave well in the class.
■I liked this workshop and I didn’t want it to end, in fact I was surprised when it was over so quickly. There is of course a lot of material presented here, but participants are bound to take some parts home with them to use in their classes. I also think it would be good to do the workshop again, as there are so many ideas and good tips, all of which would really make teaching a lot easier and students would learn more and be able to use a lot more language.
■I was really eager to try doing some fun-learning activities using the available flash cards which I got from this workshop. So when I got home, I tried doing a pair game “What do you like? ..1, 2, 3!” with my younger sister. She grew up in Japan and is a junior high school student now. She said she can only understand Basic English because they don’t speak English in class. At first we were only using the nouns in the available flash cards. Afterwards, I challenged my sister to think of any nouns that were not on the flash cards. And then she began to think harder and tried to look for some things inside of our house. Both of us found the pair-game activity a really fun and interesting way to learn using the vocabularies we know in a sentences.
■I tried the ball throwing activity. During the activity, I noticed my student’s English sounded natural. Because she does not read or know Katakana yet, she pronounced exactly how she heard the sound of the word. She is not trapped by the sound of katakana.
■I realized that much of my lessons were teacher centered, so I decided to give role play a try even in my 3 year old class of 4 students. Before beginning, we drilled colors and I demonstrated what I wanted them to do. Despite my skepticism, I found role play was possible with 3 year olds! The also said “Here you are” “Oh, no!” naturally although they had never said it in class, but I used them a lot as classroom English.