Hi! Friends 1: Lesson 8: I study Japanese. (ABCD)

I’m not gonna lie. The grammar in this chapter is all over the place. What do you study? Please! Ok, I get it. We’re supposed to progress from “What do you like?” in Lesson 5 to “What do you want?” in Lesson 6 and then end up here at Lesson 8 with “What do you study?” But, it’s a bogus question. Elementary school kids all study the same things together everyday. Why would they ask each other what they study? There’s just no good way to work that into a real life communication scenario for a kid. So, I flip the script. For Lesson 8, my focus is on vocabulary building, making direct statements with “is”, and speaking English as part of a speech or presentation.

Lesson 8A, Subjects

  • Vocabulary Introduction
  • 3 Hint Quiz
  • Keyword Game
  • p32 Let’s Listen

Lesson 8B, Days

  • Sing-along Days of the Week Introduction
  • Missing Game
  • p35 Let’s Play 3 (Stereo Game)
  • (Optional) Schedule Worksheet
  • (Optional) p34 Let’s Listen 2

Lesson 8C, Dream Schedule

  • p35 Activity
  • Dream Schedule Project

Lesson 8D, Presentations

  • Dream Schedule Group Presentations

Lesson 8A, Subjects

The first page of this chapter is actually organized very well for introducing and practicing vocabulary. I find myself mimicking the picture of the teacher and students almost exactly and doing just what they suggest. This lesson only introduces the first half of the vocabulary, though: school subjects.

Vocabulary Introduction

After experimenting with them last year, I have started to expand on my vocabulary list for this chapter. Most of the suggested subjects are the core curriculum in most schools. Technically calligraphy gets wound up with Japanese class in many schools, but beyond that it’s pretty solid. But, there are some key components of the school day that they leave out. Where’s recess? What about lunch? My school district has reading times. Library time used to be my favorite “class” of the week as a kid. Here’s my expanded vocab list.

When introducing them, I put the cards one at a time on the board, have the kids repeat after me, and then ask them what the subject is in a junior high style comprehension check.

Social Studies (Social Studies)

Social Studies (Social Studies)

What’s this? What’s social studies? (It’s shakai!)

I use this as an opportunity to dole out reward stamps or stickers. The core subjects flashcards all have a picture of a textbook with the name of the subject on it, except for English. In most places English isn’t actually called “eigo”, but instead is called “gakokugo katsudo” or “foreign language activities”. At first, the kids balk at how easy it is to identify what each subject is called in Japanese. It’s written right there! But, then I pull out the other, expanded vocab words and they start to question. Lunch is “kyushoku”, obviously. But homeroom? And recess often takes a few tries to get “yasumi jikan”. If you don’t know any Japanese, I suggest you don’t do the comprehension check or have the homeroom teacher do it.

Also, I find it helpful to introduce the three awkward words in the bunch with a sing song oddball pronunciation so that they’re more memorable. I bounce my hands up and down for a giggly “home economics!” and punctuate the air for “arts. and. crafts.” For calligraphy I do a wide hand gesture and draw out the word like I’m trying to be fancy “calligraphyyyyyyy”. They laugh at my absurd delivery, but they remember because of it.

3 Hint Quiz

One of the easiest “games”! Teacher gives three hints, and the kids have to guess what the subject is. There are 5 quizzes listed in the book, but I often change the hints and add a few of my own.

Numbers. Triangles. Ruler. What’s this? (It’s math.)

Piano. Recorder. Song. What’s this? (It’s music.)

Mat. Red and white cap. Shoes. What’s this? (It’s P. E.)

Beaker. Microscope. Skeleton. What’s this? (It’s science.)

Frying pan. Cup. Kitchen. What’s this? (It’s home economics.)

Brush. Paper. Ink. What’s this? (It’s calligraphy.)

ABCs. Books. Now. What’s this? (It’s English.)

Milk. Tray. Spoon. What’s this? (It’s lunch.)

Keyword Game

The kids pictured on pages 32 and 33 are playing this game. It’s a staple of Japanese ESL. And, while it’s generic as hell, how can you get out of it when it’s pictured right there? Gotta play the keyword game.

The keyword game is played with two or three kids. Make sure everyone has a seatmate and they can play “tonari doshi”. Each pair or group of kids gets out a single eraser and places it between them. They then put their hands on their heads so they can’t cheat as easily. Teacher chooses a keyword and sets its flashcard apart from the others on the board. Teacher says random words, and the kids all repeat after teacher just like drilling time. If teacher says the keyword, the kids race to see who can grab the eraser first. The kids who successfully grabs the eraser, wins.

Today’s game is the keyword game. This is a two player game. Two players, one eraser please. Get out one eraser. Eraser in the center (of your desks) and hands on your head. In today’s game, one keyword, one chance. The starting keyword is… Home Economics! Home Economics? (Then) get the eraser. Get the eraser and you’re the champion. English? No. Science? No. Japanese? No. Home Economics? Yes. Ok?

I typically draw a flashy box on the chalkboard and put the keyword card into it to emphasize this is the word. This one. Not those. This one. Listen for this word. Ok? Ok. I usually play three rounds and give out stamps for the best of three champs.

p32 Let’s Listen

Last up is the book quiz. This quiz should be direct, but for some reason they’ve written “Yume no Jikanwari wo Tsukurou” on the chalkboard illustration beside it so kids who aren’t paying attention often think that they’re just supposed to write in whatever they want here. No, kids. It’s a listening activity. I simplify the text a bit.

Good morning, everyone. These are today’s lessons. Number one is Japanese. Number two, social studies. Number three, English. Number four, science. After lunch, class number five is Math, and last is home economics.

It’s just a list, really. We check our work together and we’re done.

Lesson 8B, Days

This part introduces the days of the week and reviews the basic vocabulary from the first session. Again, it’s all about the vocab.

Sing-along Days of the Week Introduction

Much like my months of the year lesson in Hi! Friends 2, this days of the week introduction is all about music. Starting on Sunday and repeating as I go, I introduce the days of the week one at a time, drilling the kids with the melody of the “Sunday comes again” kids song for remembering the days of the week. I also do comprehension checks for stamps just like the previous week’s subjects introduction.

~Sunday~ (~Sunday~)

What’s Sunday? (It’s Nichiyoubi!)

~Sunday~ (~Sunday~), ~Monday~ (~Monday~)

What’s Monday? (It’s Getsuyoubi!)

~Sunday~ (~Sunday~), ~Monday~ (~Monday~), ~Tuesday~ (~Tuesday~)

What’s Tuesday? (It’s Kayoubi!)

…and so on. Once we’ve sung and checked the meaning of all of the days of the week, I string it all together into the song and we all sing the song together once.

I have three cards. What cards?

Missing Game

The singing of the Days of the Week song segues straight into the first “game”, the missing game. I tell the kids it’s game time and instruct them “Heads down”. Once all the heads are down, I start singing the song to myself as I rearrange the Days flashcards on the board. I pull three of the flashcards off the board and stick them into a folder or just hide them in my own copy of the textbook so that just the corners are sticking out.

I have three cards. What cards?

..and then the kids have to run through the song in their head to figure out which days of the week I’ve pulled off the board. I call on three kids, once for each card, rather than have a single kid try to guess them all. The kids who guess correctly, get stamps. I play this two or three times.

When this game is finished, I clear the board of the days of the week cards and move back to the school subjects cards.

p35 Let’s Play 3 (Stereo Game)

Before starting this second game, I run through the school subjects one more time to make sure they remember them from before. Extra emphasis is usually needed for home economics, calligraphy, and arts and crafts. Then, I tell the kids to turn to p35.

At the top of p35 is a box instructing the kids kids write the name of the school subject or etc that they like an why. I point to this section and start making suggestions.

Next, p35 and pencils please. What do you like? I like numbers, (so) I like math? I like Harry Potter, (so) I like English? I like JAXA, I like science! I like my friends, I like cleaning time? What do you like?

As the kids write, I tell them it’s a secret. Shh! Your book is a secret. Himitsu wo mamotte!

Then I ask for four volunteers. I pick two girls and two boys usually. I call the volunteers to the front of the room and gesture for them to bring their books, but to press their books to their bodies so that no one can see what they wrote. It’s a secret!

The idea behind the stereo game is that all four kids (plus teacher) countdown and say the subjects they like at the same time. The kids watching have to listen and figure our who said they liked what subject. It’s simple, but a but of a challenge.

Today’s next game is the… Stereo Game! In the Stereo Game, four players, one time. Countdown three two one, “I like”. “I like science!” “I like music!”. Four players, one time. (Douji ni.)

The first round, I play, too. We countdown and say what subjects we like best together at the same time. I ask the class what I said.

Ok! What does teacher like? Music? Yes! Let’s change.

…and then I call that kid up to take my place in front of the class. Then, I point to the next kid in the row. What does he like? I have each of the kids who spoke chose who to call on. Then, when a kid gets it right, they sit back down in their seat, and the kid who got it right takes their place for round two. I do three rounds of this usually. The really like having the power to call on their peers themselves. Inevitably, some kid says they like something unexpected and their friends have to comment. Very cute.

For most classes this takes up all the time allotted, but I sometimes have to supplement it with one more activity. For those occasions I use…

(Optional) Schedule Worksheet

This is actually on the DVD. It’s an interview activity. You ask what’s on Monday, what’s on Tuesday and the like. There are two versions of the worksheet so you have to find someone with the other half and ask them to complete your schedule. Thing is, kids mostly just cheat and look off their partner’s paper rather than ask. It’s a lot of prep for very little communication.

(Optional) p34 Let’s Listen 2

This lesson fell on parent teacher conferences week this year so I cut this activity entirely, but it’s typically my go-to for this last part.

It’s just a listening activity. There are three theoretical kids from three different countries. I change the script to make the topics more relevant, though.

Hello. My home is Australia. I like Japanese and P. E. My lunch is a boxed lunch. Thank you.

Hello. My home is Korea. I like music and P. E. My lunch is spaghetti. Thank you.

Hello. My home is China. I like social studies, science, and math. My lunch is in the classroom. Thank you.

For the check, I ask what the kids liked and what was lunch. If you have the DVD-ROM you can just leave the book script and see what they know, but in my experience the block of text in the book contains too many unknowns and the kids’ eyes just gloss over. Better to customize the script to your target language instead.

Lesson 8C, Dream Schedule

The last lesson in this set is a group project. I love seeing what the kids come up with.

p35 Activity

After running through the days and the subjects again, I tell the kids to turn to p35. The Activity on that page lists Sakura and Taku and instructs you to listen and write what Sakura and Taku’s “Dream Schedule” is like. I do this quiz like any other quiz with Sakura and Taku’s pictures on the board. Instead of the book’s suggested “I study”, I just use the regular ol’ “I like”. But, “I want” is just as applicable.

My name is Sakura. I like Japanese, math, P. E., music, science, and English.

My name is Taku. I like English, social studies, calligraphy, arts and crafts, home economics and home economics. Double home economics!

We check their work together and then it’s their turn.

Dream Schedule Project

I tell the kids to get into their groups. Each group gets one poster. All of the slots in the poster must be filled. But, I tell them, you must fill them with the cards from p51 and the cards from p51 only. Get out your scissors kids! I tell them a day of all P. E. is ok. And, that the blank “Yobi” cards can be anything they want. The come up with some creative stuff, let me tell you. Mostly P. E. dominates. The entire rest of the class time is devoted to cutting out the cards on p51, deciding what goes on the poster and when, and gluing the cards in place. At the end of the class, I tell them to write their group numbers and the “theme” at the bottom of the poster, then collect them and hang onto them for next time.

Here are some of my favorites.

One of my native speakers has been having a rough time of it lately. Her group came up with the idea to just go home early! It’s a “Dream Schedule” after all.


I tell them the “youbi” cards can be anything, and some kids take that “anything” as almost a challenge. Case in point, this group that made Monday a marathon of Sunday night’s most popular TV show: Itte Q.


These kids had a little more sense. It’s flattering how many groups consistently over the years have left off Japanese entirely and replaced it in their ideal schedules with English class. They love me! They really love me!


Straight up and down just our favorite classes and nothing else! This is the most common approach.


“REKU” is Recreation. It’s not usually a “subject” but they put it on the schedules at this school so I let them have it. Hey, at least it’s an English word!

Lesson 8D, Presentations

It’s time for their first real speech of the year!

Dream Schedule Group Presentations

A quick run through of vocab if they need it, then straight into groups! I pass out the posters that they worked on last time and tell the kids who didn’t quite complete the poster or who forgot to write in a “theme” to finish up.

On the board I put up the the weekday flashcards and draw stick figures under them to represent the kids. Each kid presents one day. Decide in your groups who presents what.

One group member, one day. Group member number one, Monday. “Monday is science, P. E., English, and Japanese. Group member number two, Tuesday. “Tuesday is English, English, science, and lunch.”.

…and so on. I have a deck of number cards, one for each numbered group, that I shuffle and draw from. The number that I pull goes first. When their speech is done, they pull a card from the deck, and that’s the next group up. We do this until everyone has presented. Speak during the presentation, and you get a stamp on your stamp card, too.

During the speeches, I have the group put their poster on the board inside a fancy frame that I draw in chalk. After each group finishes, I move their poster to the other side of the board. When all the groups have presented, I run through the themes and highlights of each group and then tell them it’s time to vote. What’s the best schedule? You can’t vote for yourself, of course. I have them raise their hands once and only once for the schedule they think is the absolute best. The group with the most votes, wins a pack of stickers from me and also bonus stamps on their cards.

A class with a typical 8 groups can prepare for about 10 minutes before presenting. A class with 10 needs to start right out of the gate to finish on time. They really love the self expression involved in this activity. And, it’s always flattering when the kids leave off Japanese entirely, and put multiple English classes in their “dream schedule”.

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