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.
Tell the students to listen carefully for key words as the story is being told.
As the story is being read, ask the students after each page if they heard any key words. If a key word came up (e.g. kangaroo), show a large picture card of a kangaroo, practice the English pronunciation and then put the picture up on display.
Once the story is finished, review the vocabulary again and play a game of karuta.
- It is best to do this activity outside the classroom (e.g. in the library) so students can sit more comfortably and see the pictures more clearly.
- It is important to use lots of gestures while reading in English, as the students will find they actually understand a lot of what is being said and learn about the importance of gesturing in communication.
- As this activity requires significant HRT involvement (through reading the Japanese translation), make sure they are supportive of the lesson plan.
- Ideally, each page of the story should be read first in English, then in Japanese (if a translation is available) and then in English again. Depending on the difficulty of the story, having the Japanese translation helps keep the students focused and assists in explaining some of the finer cultural points of the story.
- Depending on the length of the book, it may be best to do the story in one 45 minute lesson, and then review the vocabulary and play the karuta game in a second 45 minute lesson.
- This activity worked quite well with grade 4 students, but younger students may find it hard to stay focused on a story book for a whole lesson.
- As this activity likely requires you to buy books out of your own money, I recommend bookdepository.com for a good selection of English language books from around the world, and amazon.co.jp is suggested for Japanese versions. Both websites ship for free.