International/Cultural Understanding

The Grinch Christmas Lesson

Summary: This Christmas lesson is based on an Englipedia lesson, modified for the ability of my students (ichinensei). First, we preview the worksheet as a class, checking the character names and meanings of the Word Box words. We do the first question together as a class, then the students are responsible for the rest of the questions as we watch the video.

Customs and etiquette from around the world!

This is the lesson plan discussed at the April Kobe JET seminar. Basically it is a fun powerpoint that you can use and change to suit your purpose.

In my example lesson I used it in the following way (please note I used the audio room for this lesson):

1. First I got the students into 9 groups and drew a square divided into 9 parts on the board to record the points.

Mardi Gras in Action! Let’s celebrate with Colors!


  1. Mardi Gras! 
  • Show pictures of the festival, people with masks, and dancers.
  • Show the students a calendar of the month of Mardi Gras. 
  • Show them a map of the United States and where New Orleans is located.
  1. Review the color vocabulary: red, green, blue, yellow, black, white, orange, pink, and purple.
  2. Review the school supply vocabulary while showing them the supplies: paint, paint brush, string, plate, water, towel, and photo.


  1. Using the given color

Guess Who Game Show ICP

The aim of the KICP is to encourage the students to speak with foreigners in English and develop an interest in people from other countries. The game show format makes it fun and exciting and helps break down some of the nerves the students may have about speaking with strangers.

It takes roughly 6 lessons and works best at the end of the first grade when the students have developed their speaking skills through the hamburger shop/asking directions/answering the telephone modules.

Society Changers


In EUB, a reading course, we spent a unit focusing on two people whose actions have positively affected the lives of many people in their homelands and around the world: Wangari Maathai and Muhammad Yunus, both of whom have won the Nobel Peace Prize for their work.


At the end of the unit students were asked to form pairs and then do the following:

10 Chairs — Unequal Distribution of Wealth

This is an economics lesson in English.  I have done it twice in Japan with H.S. grade 2 students in a “Comparative Culture” class (it is an elective social studies class taught in English). It fits into our unit on Global Inequalities.

The lesson is quite popular in American classrooms.  A thorough description can be found on many websites.  Here are a few links to the lesson plan:

International Festivals Project


Students present an international festival in pairs to the class using pictures and music.


1 .Introduce students to an international festival in class with a presentation including a lot of pictures. This is a sample of the the final product expected from them. (Can also be used as a listening comprehension exercise.)

Give them a list of examples (with one or two pictures) of many interesting world festivals e.g. La Tomatina, Rio Carnival, Orange Throwing festival, Chinese New Year etc.

Music genre project


Students each create a poster and do an oral presentation on an international music genre and artist of their choice.


1.Introduce students to music genres. For example classical, rap, rock, country, reggae, zook, folk, indie, Mongolian Throat singing, Indian music, calypso etc.

Give them a list of genres with a short description in English for each one (musical instruments, speed, type of vocals etc). Go through the list with the students to make sure they understand.

Greetings and Apologies

1.) Pass out worksheet.

2.) Go over the meanings of I’m sorry, excuse me and thank you in Japanese.  If you don’t know these yourself, make sure your OTE confirms.  There should be a few for each phrase that may or may translate differently in different cases:

I’m sorry: すみません sumimasen, ごめん (なさい) gomen (nasai), 申し訳ありません/申し訳ない moushiwake arimasen/moushiwake nai

San-Biki no Kobuta (The Three Little Pigs)


1.Read the students the story San-Biki no Kobuta in Japanese

-Even if Hirigana is difficult for you, show your own enjoyment through using voices for the characters, gestures and hand motions, or actions related to the story.

2. Review the main words of the story with the students in English

Three  Sanbiki さんびき                     Straw     Wara わら

Wolf   Ookami おおかみ                   Brick     Renga れんが

Pig(lets)  Kobuta こぶた                      Wood (stick)   Ki 

Story Time!


I did a lesson on Australian animals, where I introduced the vocabulary whilst reading the famous Australian children’s story Possum Magic by Mem Fox. I also had a copy of the same book in Japanese (ポスおばちゃんのまほう) which was read by the Home Room Teacher (HRT). This idea could be adapted to suit a variety of different sets of vocabulary, depending on the chosen story book.

International Country Quiz

This lesson is best used as a fun team activity. Assign the class into teams however works best, and give each team a large card that says "TRUE" on one side and "FALSE" on the other. Then simply go through the prezi linked below - read the fact, countdown from 5 or so for the students to raise their guess, and record the points on the board or paper (this works best if you can remember the correct answers).

Katakana English Categories


Ask students what words they know that come from English, and write them down on the board.  Then, tell students that they will be learning three broad categories of Katakana English words: words that have different meanings  in Japanese than in English, (like mansion) words that have vastly different pronunciations (like Makudonarudo for “McDonalds”),  and words that have been shortened, (like conbini and air con).  The OTE should translate.

Puzzle Piece Clothing

Choose eight famous pieces of clothing from festivals around the world, for example a yukata from Japan, or a tuxedo from England. Print them out as an A4 sized sheet, glue them onto the back of coloured construction paper,laminate, then cut them into puzzle pieces. Place each puzzle into a large envelope and label the outside so you know which puzzle is which.

I want to go to 'Murica! Countries Bingo Board Game

Perhaps the only thing that kids love more than bingo and board games is a FUSION of both!

I came up with this idea because in some classes the classroom was too small for moving around in and the kids got too rowdy during exciting games. And the kids. Love. Bingo. And board games. SO. MUCH. (Not to mention that it's more about luck than skill, so even kids who aren't good at English have a chance at winning.)

International Video and Poster Making Project

Make a 15 minute video with 10 ALTs from 10 different countries. Ask each person to speak for 1-2 minutes about the most popular/famous food, places, sports, music, animals, people, etc. in their respective countries.

Find pictures of the famous things each ALT talks about in the video and print them out. Print out a picture of each ALT. Make a description sheet for each country with the ALTs name and a list of all the pictures.