Hi Friends 1 Lesson 1 “Hello!”

The kids are back and classes will be starting sooner than you know it!  Are your ducks in a row?

Hi Friends 1 Lesson 1 is all about greetings and introductions.  Here’s how I plan to attack it.


(1) Introduction
Write names on books (in English)
Make English nametags (if necessary)
Let’s Listen 1, write the names of the characters in English
Play game using “My name is~”

(2) Flags of the World (Flag cards can be found here)
Let’s Listen 2 (International Greetings)
International Greetings Janken Game

(3) Review International Greetings
Make business cards

(4) Review International Greetings
Let’s Listen 3
“My name is ~” “Nice to meet you.” Card Swap Janken


For the business cards, I have prepared a template for students to use.

One A4 sheet makes 8 cards, which can be colored and embellished as desired. Don’t forget to make some for yourself too!

HiFriends 1 name card 名刺票

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Hiconic users, here’s hoping your Christmas was happy and your New Year is bright. Thanks for visiting, hope you found some useful tidbits to freshen up your classes in 2012. We will be taking a short break, but will be back in 2013 with tips, hints, and tools to breathe some life into Hi Friends 1 and 2.

So, all you teachers out there, enjoy your holidays and rest up. The kids will be back before you know it!

Let’s make a Christmas Tree!

Just a week until Christmas!  Here’s a fun cutting and coloring activity for elementary students.  Review colors and shapes, give simple instructions in English, and make your very own Christmas tree!  This is a great way to round out the term.  Try it!christmas tree ornaments esl efl eigo christmas tree esl efl eigo

If cut and paste activities aren’t quite what you’re looking for, why not make a Christmas card in English?  Fold in half longways, then fold again to make a book-style Christmas card.  Students can color in the letters, write their names, draw Christmas-y pictures, and write a Christmas greeting in English!

Christmas Card image worksheet eigo note esl efl

Have a great winter break, see you in 2013!

The Color Wheel … simple color names and simple color theory

Everyone enjoys colors, and elementary school students are no exception.  Teaching the colors can be done with drills and flashcards, but why not seize the opportunity to break from routine and do a little hands on learning?

Lesson 5 in Hi Friends 1 brings us a rather poorly executed framework for practicing the “What … do you like?” structure.  The theme appears to be shapes and colors and t-shirts. I have decided to break the lesson up into sections; first shapes, next colors, finally returning to the “What … do you like?” grammar and interview activity.

This Color Wheel worksheet is what I use when teaching colors, students color and write the names of the colors, I talk a little about color theory, and we play a game or two.  The kids enjoy it, and it helps to brighten up these dark November days.  Try it for yourself!color wheel english esl efl eigo noto hi friends

Getting Back to School with Shapes

Getting back into the groove after a long summer break can be difficult for teachers as well as students. Sometimes a few easy and fun lessons are necessary before plowing back into our English textbooks. I like to use the first couple of lessons to talk about the places everyone went and things they did (in English, of course), taking the opportunity to teach “Where did you go?” and “I went to…” along with some other simple past verbs like “ate”, “saw”, and “played”.

This generally works quite well for older students, but can be a bit too much for the first and second graders. Thinking about simple yet useful things to do with my little kids, it occurred to me that I have never taught shapes! A glaring oversight on my part, yet easily corrected with a set of simple Shape Flashcards!


Sports Sports Sports Sports

Sports. Kids like to play sports and like to talk about sports. Sports vocabulary can be used in a variety of ways in the ESL/EFL classroom. In particular sports vocabulary lends itself very well to teaching “I like…” and “I can…” expressions (as well as “I don’t like…” and “I can’t…” ;-)).

It just so happens that “I like…” is the subject of Hi Friends 1 Unit 4, while “I can…” is the subject of Hi Friends 2 Unit 3. While these expressions can be used to discuss a variety of things, using sports can help get the ball rolling. This set of flashcards doesn’t cover all the bases, but presents a broad enough range to encourage further discussion.

I’ve opted to use “soccer” because in Japan (where I teach) and in the US (where I’m from) that’s the term we use. I’ve also intentionally left out American Football because very few places outside the US have an interest in the game, plus it’s just a mouthful to say. If your favorite sport is missing, leave a comment and if there’s enough interest I’ll make up a flashcard for it!

When teaching “I like…” foods and fruit are also great conversation starters. Animals work well also. Mix it up and have fun!

Update: Had a bit of a think and decided to make up a football card as well. No reason not to!

Hi Friends 1 and 2 Software on an Android Device

For all of you out there struggling with the new Hi Friends textbooks, ごくろさまです。
Here’s a little trick I figured out to get the Hi Friends software loaded and running
on my Android tablet. Turns out the “software” is really just a massive blob of Flash
and Shockwave, basically a big and poorly designed web page. As such, it will run in
a web browser such as Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer. I’m not sure about Safari
and Apple products as I don’t have access to any.

Android is quite willing and able to play Flash content as well, and with the aid of an
app called SWF Player, I can now connect my tablet to the massive TV in the classroom via
HDMI and do the full multimedia rigamarole. It’s not the snappiest system in the world, the
animations are laggy and the videos are choppy, but the basic touch interface works very well.

How did I do it? Simple. Insert the Hi Friends software DVD in your computer and use a file
explorer to navigate to the Hi Friends Folder and copy all the contents into a folder on your machine.
I created a folders named Hi Friends 1 and Hi Friends 2 and added the respective data.

You should end up with these files in your Hi Friends 1 and 2 folders:

Hi-friends_1.ico (_2 for Hi Friends 2)
Hi_friends_1ショートカット.lnk (ditto)

Copying the data may take awhile, as there are several thousand discrete files in the data set.

Once the data is on your machine, you can then transfer it to your android device. I put all the
Hi Friends 1 and 2 folders in a folder titled Hi Friends and copied that to a microSD card, which
I then inserted in my tablet. I copied the folder from the external SD to the internal SD, but
it didn’t seem to make much of a difference in terms of performance.

Then I installed SWF Player from the Google Play store. There were several Shockwave Flash players
available from the store, I chose SWF Player because it worked a little more smoothly than the other
apps I tried. Open SWF Player and use the file browser to navigate to your Hi Friends folder. Look
for the start.swf file. Open that file using SWF Player and it will launch the Hi Friends class
Multimedia Interactive Whatsis. Enjoy!

It is nice having the interactive textbook thing because sometimes the activities and listening exercises
are a little different than what the illustrations in the textbook would lead you to believe. Also, wheeling
out the big TV gets the kids excited and interested in the lesson. I’ve found that for noisy classes using
the TV helps students to focus, and failing that, the TV can do the yelling for you ;-).

Its not a perfect solution and not a perfect system, but its a little of the new, and new can be fun.

Hi Friends 1 and 2 Classroom CD

For those of us teaching in Japanese elementary schools, the new school year brings new textbooks.  Unfortunately, those textbooks do not come with an audio CD to use in the classroom. The new books come instead with a DVD and software for use with a PC and TV.

Unfortunately, many schools have yet to set up a simple system for getting computers into the classroom, which makes the DVD and software less than optimal.

I personally prefer to work with a CD, and as such, have used the audio from the Hi Friends DVDs to make audio CDs to use in class.  If you’d like a copy, feel free to download the .zip files and burn your own copies.  There’s a tracklist PDF which should print to just the right size for a jewel case cover.


Hi Friends 1

Hi Friends 2

New English Textbooks for Japanese Elementary Schools

If you are teaching English in a Japanese elementary school, you are no doubt familiar with the now venerable Eigo Noto.  You may also be aware of the fact that Eigo Noto is being replaced by a new textbook called “Hi Friends”.  Curious as to what has changed?  Good news!  Not much has changed at all.  The Ministry of Education has posted PDFs of the “Hi Friends” syllabus on their website.  Not on the front page or anything though.

Here’s a link to the page.

Most of the teaching materials used with the Eigo Noto will be usable with the new text, as will all our fine Hiconic Images.  Relieved?  I know I am!

What Did You Get?

As much as I like to downplay the more commercial aspects of the holiday season, the fact remains that kids love to talk about the things they got for Christmas. Here is a worksheet for having that discussion in English.

I teach the question, and give several example answers, and ask for a few volunteers to practice in front of the class. Then I hand out the worksheets and have the kids write their names in English and draw a picture of a holiday gift they received in the provided space. Then we write the English name of the gift, and they proceed to interview each other about the gifts they got. Its a fun and effective way to get students back into English mode after the long winter vacation.

Its especially useful for those of us teaching in Japanese elementary schools using the Eigo Note 1 (5th grade) textbook. The last third of the book is kind of thin, content wise, and this worksheet provides an opportunity to step away from the text and still have a good lesson. Enjoy!What did you get eigo note esl worksheet