Language Fuel ELT Training Library

Last year, I was asked by Language Fuel (based in New Zealand)

to write a course for English Language teachers of Young Learners

on using picture books effectively in the classroom.

My course is now available online if you subscribe to the 

Language Fuel ELT Training Library.


Subscribing to the ELT Training Library gives teachers unlimited

access to all of the courses which cover a wide range of essential

themes in teaching English, from teaching vocabulary, writing and

pronunciation, to group dynamics and cultural awareness.


The courses are all online, interactive and fun. 

I think they are particularly helpful for teachers anywhere in the

world who are just starting to teach, are studying how to teach

the English Language or want to learn more.

All of the courses have been written by published authors

who are experts in their field of language teaching.


My course on using picture books covers the emotional connection

offered to children through picture books, how to select books that

will work well in the classroom and how to develop language and

other activities based on picture books.

I have used the stories and images from my own books, with

detailed examples based on Lily and the Moon





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Oxford University Press Reading Text about Birthday Celebrations


My reading text, ‘Birthday Celebrations in Asia’, is part of

the Dragonfly Reader series, which helps students to

develop good reading habits while exploring Asian cultural

themes and values. The non-fiction text covers ways that

birthdays and certain ages are celebrated in Japan, Korea,

China, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam with vivid

photographs of foods, costumes and celebrations in each


The text is part of the anthology 'Family Bonds' in level 3

of the Dragonfly Readers.

Schools can purchase Dragonfly Readers from Oxford

University Press.

Learn more about the series at

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Christmas event for toddlers/young children on 10th December 2019 in Tokyo

It's that cold time of year again when all you

want to do is either snuggle in the warm at

home or go out and enjoy the bright

Christmas decorations! 


I will be holding an event with songs and

movement, picture book-reading and simple

games for small children on 10th December

(Tuesday) at the publisher Froebel-kan near

Komagome station in Tokyo.

See the flyer below for more details

(sorry, it is in Japanese only).


The event is loosely based on the December

issue of Smile Eigo that focuses on animals

that hibernate, with a lovely picture story

called The Chipmunk Family's Winter, and

the theme of Christmas.

There is an activity page where children can

learn how to make simple Christmas




There are still a few spaces left so please

contact Froebel-kan, as shown in the flyer below,

and come along and have some fun! 



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Autumn themes in Smile Eigo

When using seasonal themes in our classes, 

Halloween is always a popular one for October.

But what other images and experiences do we have

of October in Japan?

Blue skies and cool temperatures?

Apples, chestnuts and sweet potatoes?


I love the custom in schools here to take the children

digging for potatoes or sweet potatoes early in the autumn.

The story in the October issue of Smile Eigo is about

a group of moles digging for sweet potatoes and the

moles look just like schoolchildren in the cute illustrations.


And apples are everywhere in October!


In the U.K. apples used to be considered as having magical

powers so they are also often used in traditional Halloween



In this edition of Smile Eigo children learn about Halloween

but they also learn how apples grow from blossoms,

to young apples, to ripe apples.


Then there are all of the delicious things we can make

with apples... apple pie is one of my favourites!



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Smile Eigo September issue

The moon is said to be at its most beautiful

when viewed in September, so this month's

Smile Eigo theme of the moon is just right

for the current season. Children will enjoy

learning abou the phases of the moon, the

different shapes that people see on the moon

in different countries and the picture story

The Big Moon. 

And what else do people start thinking about 

in Japan in early autumn??... yes, food!

There is an interesting section on sweet and

salty foods and how they get their tastes in

the September issue, too.



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Picture books and activity books to help raise children bilingually

For children to develop language skills it is

important to give them a lot of stimulation

with books, toys, walks in the park, visits to

museums or amusement parks, cooking

together etc. and a chance to communicate

about all of these experiences. 

To introduce a second language to children

it is good to use the same kind of input

and to start offering these materials and

experiences to the child when they are very young.

Picture books are an ideal way for children to

develop an interest and ability in a second

language and here I would like to introduce

the mpi Phonics series of picture books with

accompanying activity books.

All of the books use simple language with a

simple story and attractive pictures. Each

book tells a standalone story i.e. the theme,

characters and storyline in each book are all

completely different.

The activities in each activity book are simple

and fun and linked to the theme and

vocabulary used in the specific picture book.


So there are nine picture books, nine activity

books and nine DVDs in the series.

Originally designed for teachers to use with

young learners in the classroom in Japan,

these books are also just right for parents/

grandparents to use with young children at


As there is close supervision of the child by

the parent/grandparent, it is possible to use

the books in this series for a much younger

age group than in a classroom setting.


I have been reading the picture book

A Trip to Grandma's House to my

grandchild, Melissa, since she was a

small baby.

Melissa's mother is British/Japanese and her

father is Japanese and she is being raised

bilingually in Japan.

Even at two weeks old, she used to look at

the pictures in the book intently and tune in

while the book was read to her.

By the time she was three she had already

memorized the whole story and was "reading"

it to her baby brother.

At this stage I introduced the activity book as well.



The story is about a family of bears who are

helped by shapes (circles, triangles, rectangles

and squares) to get to grandma's house.

They encounter various problems such as a

river, a mountain and darkness and the shapes

help them overcome these hurdles.

So the activities in the activity book are based

on shapes, nature, animals and family


There are stickers, coloring and matching

activities, as well as a board game and pages

for the child to make his/her own pictures.

Melissa particularly liked the sticker activities

and searching for shapes in her surroundings.

Even now, days later, she is still telling me

that she has found a rectangle shape in the

door, or that a table she finds is circular.

These activity books are a springboard for

lots of conversation and are really great fun

for family members to enjoy together! 


For more information in Japanese see mpi Phonics










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Summer themes in Smile Eigo

Summer is my favourite season.

There are so many exciting things to do during the

hot days of summer and refreshing things to eat such as

chilled noodles, fresh fruit or ice cream... 

The July edition of Smile Eigo shows us many ways to eat

ice cream and I'm sure the pictures will make you feel hungry...



I live near the sea and find sea creatures fascinating. 

In the August edition of Smile Eigo children can enjoy

an undersea adventure and information about

many familiar and unusual sea creatures.



So what are your plans this summer?

I hope you all can enjoy the beach and some refreshing foods!

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Summer camp in Onjuku

I am so happy to be able to invite a small group of elementary

school students to Onjuku for a 3-day summer camp

(but not camping, staying in a guesthouse!)

The camp is being organized by Hana House in Nishi Ogikubo

and will be held from 22nd-24th August, 2019.

Please contact the school on the number in the poster below

if you are interested in hearing more.

There are some spaces still available as of today (1st July).

Children will enjoy the glorious beach in Onjuku at the same 

time as learning about the sea turtles that lay their eggs

on the beach, local fish and the problems caused by plastic garbage.

There will be lots of fun activities, including storytelling, cooking together,

simple craft activities and presentation time.







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すまいるえいご June rainy season issue

What I like about the Smile Eigo series is that each issue takes a

seasonal theme. By introducing nature, events and ideas connected

to the current time of year, children can easily relate to the pictures,

words, stories and activities.

This makes the learning experience both fun and relevant.

So June is the rainy season in Japan. And the June issue of Smile Eigo

brings the wet and watery season to life with snails, magic water, rain

and life in the pond.

Children will enjoy the sounds in the pond with the two frogs,

Kero and Guwawa. How many different sounds can

be made by frogs and rain in the water of the pond? Listen...






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Workshops for mpi Partners

Recently I have been invited by the local groups of mpi teachers (mpi Partners)

to hold workshops on the theme of using picture books and storytelling to teach English.

The workshops are usually about 2.5 hours long which gives me plenty of time

to go into depth about how to use various picture books and storytelling

for a wide range of age groups. This includes language development,

intonation and rhythm, songs, games, craft activities, discussions of themes

in picure books and presentations and storytelling by students.



I held a workshop for Yokohama mpi Partners in January and Kobe mpi Partners in May.

The mpi Partners teachers are so enthusiastic and active that they make the workshops

really lively and a joy to hold.


In April, Kyoko Takiguchi, one of the teachers who attended the Yokohama mpi Partners

workshop, asked me to hold two seminars for her junior high and high school students.

I was so impressed at how the students developed their own stories in groups and

presented them during the workshop.








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