Don’t Speak Japanese Time!

“To speak Japanese or not to speak Japanese, that is the question” – Hamlet. English teachers in Japan have been pondering this NOT so famous quote from Shakespeare for centuries. Dost thou or dost not thou? My goal with every class is to use as little Japanese as possible. Show how, rather than explain how. Use gestures when possible. And only use Japanese when it’s necessary to the flow of the class.These are a few of my personal guidelines. But how do you prevent your students from speaking Japanese? For my older students (fifth and six grade). I introduced “Don’t speak Japanese time!” During a speaking activity, I take out a timer and sign that says “Don’t speak Japanese”. Depending on the activity and level of students, I set the timer for two to five minutes. During this time, no Japanese (or any other language) except English is to be spoken. When the activity is over, I praise all the students and take the sign down. This does NOT mean speaking Japanese is encouraged, just acceptable when nessesary. I find if the students know there is a time limit, there is little pressure to speak only English. They even correct me when I slip up! When you first take out the sign, some students will applaud and some will groan, but in the end they will all have fun!


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