Eigo Noto Textbook Lessons and Lesson Plans

Dec 02 2009 0 Comments by The ENB

This post/article is primarily written for those English teachers planning on working and making a living in Japan by teaching English possibly in elementary schools (with the Eigo Noto textbook) through finding the appropriate job posting in a Japanese contract company or through the JET program.

It may also help those teachers understand the textbook in general and the menu for its lesson plans.

The Eigo Noto has had its fair share of criticisms as anything really would these days, but as far as this writer is concerned, there leaves 'not much' to be desired and the textbooks are very adaptable. The Education Ministry (MEXT) has not yet made the textbooks mandatory, and of course, each elementary school will have its own special case or situation regarding the use of it. Thus, the teacher (you) will know more on what or what not to with the textbooks as the situation arises.

Recently, however, there are now English Teaching job posts for Japan on the internet that have been advertising that "experience as an ALT" or "familiarity with Eigo Noto is a plus" so it is advisable to keep reading the posts within eigonoteblog.com if it is your intention to come to Japan and teach English in public schools as an ALT or a JET English Teacher.

So far, the Eigo Note textbooks have been distributed to a few hundred elementary schools nationwide in Japan for a two year trial period and will be implemented for an official start in April of 2011 by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEXT).

Primarily in two levels, one textbook for the fifth and one textbook for the sixth graders, students will be supposed to take approximately 35 lessons a year (in 9 Units) that will hopefully have a native or fluent speaker of English as an assistant language teacher (ALT) present in the classroom helping to teach these Eigo Noto Lessons. The students' textbooks on first notice have plentiful Japanese texts and are quite handy for the Japanese homeroom teachers (HRT) if they have to teach alone without an ALT present. So, some ALT's may be required to just teach on a drop-by basis and not for every lesson.

If you are coming to Japan to be working this kind of job/field of teaching English in Japan, but not for an "Eikaiwa" (English Language School) chances are high that you will be scheduled to teach with the Eigo Note in the near future.

Each textbook of the Eigo Noto, (英語ノート 1 and 2) have nine units to be learned over 35 lessons throughout the year or, roughly, one lesson plan a week.

If you as the reader will become an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) whether through a contract company or through the JET program teaching English in Japan, or through a rare direct-hire by the schools themselves or their respective city's Board of Education, it is possible that you will be rotated to teach these Eigo Noto lesson plans at a certain number of elementary schools in your working area to fit your 5-day weekly schedule. Currently, the writer of this article teaches at 4 schools and is rotated to each school on a weekly basis teaching one lesson per grade per class section approximately 3-4 times a day. Time left over is usually spent teaching separate lesson plans not based on the Eigo Noto lesson plans for the younger grades. (Also, a lot of fun!) These younger grade lesson plans may be based on teaching communication, international, and cultural studies through games and activities and may not necessarily be connected to English Studies. There are currently little or no teacher's books or textbooks allotted for these younger grades so if the thought of creating your own lesson plans scares you, you either have the option of scourging the internet for lesson plans, or join or try to get into the JET program and use their resources, or get hired by a contract company such as Interac or Altia for more guidance and training. Both are reputable companies and have outstanding records although job applicants should always "do their homework" to find more information about the companies they will be applying with.

The Eigo Note textbooks are accompanied by two teachers' manuals, one for each textbook, and they both have detailed lesson plans for each Eigo Noto lesson to help homeroom teachers (HRT's) implement the lessons alone or together with an assistant language teacher. On the downside for native speakers of English, the teacher's books are primarily written in Japanese. But does have the Target Language and Teaching Language (teacher's dialogue texts) written in English.

It looks somewhat like this but has more with regards to the whole lesson plan in detail. So, be ready to brush up on your Japanese or learn some! Well, just so you don't worry too much, there are ALT notes in English provided by the publisher of the textbooks, Kairyudo.

"Speaking Japanese ability is a plus" too... remember the job posts that are around the internet...

Eigo Noto Teacher's Books

Two multimedia and Flash based CD-roms also come separately with each 5th and 6th grade textbook. But these are primarily for the HRT's and ALT's use not for use with the students as a standalone.

They are very easy to work with and require very little set-up time and if used effectively in the classroom they will give your lesson plans that little extra boost. They may possibly work well with large-sized touch-screen monitors or such devices if they will be made available to more and more schools in the near future.

This writer wouldn't advise to overuse the CD-roms since most communication should be between the students themselves and with the teachers; students communicating with each other and thusly, not with a projected computer screen. The CD-roms also provide an easy way for teachers to review the textbooks as a kind of preparation tool and see the lesson plan's flow by looking at and trying out in advance the various Flash activities built into each page since each and every page in the whole textbook is covered through a very easy page-flip tool in the program. The kids love these Flash presentations, too, and are very eager to get their hands on them with a mouse-pen and an electronic blackboard.

As you will see more clearly by reviewing the textbooks and getting accustomed to the CD roms, you will see that these Eigo Noto Lessons have been separated into these categorized activities:

Let's Listen: which includes but is not limited to listening to a dialogue or quiz on the CD, and/or watching the ALT and HRT do a performance skit in front of the class. (I think the kids like both.)

Let's Chant: which has ear-catching melodies and sometimes addictive rhythms (so I never listen to them at home), but are quite easy to teach with the help of flashcards and a good CD player. They are quite useful when there is a need to point out some certain grammar points and brush-up the students' pronunciation (with the "soft correction" technique) such as when to use and when not to use the article a/an as in Eigo Note Book 1 Lesson 5's Chant.
Have a listen to the chant here:

Let's Play: these game portions are the most fun for the kids and will generally spark interest and create a lively atmosphere for them. The ALT or HRT can also add their own ideas into their Let's Play lesson plans or incorporate other games from other resources such as the ESL game site, Genki English. There is usually enough time to include two Let's Play games if you can get the lesson flow going properly in relation to the day's atmosphere with the kids and their moods. (Remember, we are teaching Grade 6'ers here as well.)

Activities: this portion is generally masked as a game, but can have very good teaching qualities and can be very learner-based in essence because some activities leave the student with a responsibility to perform. Such as in the case of doing "presentations" and "speeches" in Book 1 Lesson 5. The activities also include many interview games to review and consolidate the target language, as well as some very light cognitive thinking activities and puzzles, and guessing games with the ALT or HRT.

Let's take Lesson 5 for an example on the above and as in my own experience. We started with a a listening quiz (Let's Listen) which was about a scene of people in pairs, in a hotel lobby or such place, that were wearing different kinds of clothes, including some cross-cultural items from China and Korea. The quiz was on their conversations and the names and descriptions of their clothes as a hint.
Then, a short chant (Let's Chant) like the one above in the audio player.
The (Let's Play) portion was not included in the pages of the student textbook so a game was created called 'Pile it up!' by the writer and used in the lessons before the shopping game (Activities) and a turn for "each and every" student for a presentation (Activities) with their 'personalized by coloring' activity/game cards from the back of the textbook to boost their confidence for speaking sessions in front of the class by the end of the Unit.

As far as it goes with the Eigo Note textbooks, working by teaching English in Japanese elementary schools now and in April of the year 2011, it may all depend on how creative you are with these Eigo Noto Lesson Plans that will determine its full effect on the students themselves.

The textbooks may seem very light and easy to a native English Speaker. Yet, it can be hard and sometimes difficult at times for the students and perhaps for the homeroom teachers as well.
This may be due to the speed of the CD chants and quizzes. Also, the textbooks are prone to their own down points with regards to grammar points and the number of target language items. But this writer does feel that they still are however, a boon to Japan and will be a booster for the team-teaching system between the Japanese and foreign teachers, to have something "on the table" nationwide for the (English) "International Studies" program (for Elementary Grade Schools) set to start in April, 2011.

By keeping the lessons nurturing yet stimulating for these students in the Upper Grades of 5 and 6, providing some sidebar explanations to the students, with a little translation by a Japanese Home Room Teacher, and reviewing and practicing the target language on a regular basis prior to doing the above portioned activities, your students will gain and have more confidence and it may just boost your Eigo Noto (English Notebook) lesson plans to new heights.

For each textbook you will have 35 lesson plans in 9 units for the year so use them wisely!

Sincerely yours,



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About the author

The ENB writes for eigonoteblog.com whenever possible. The ENB's favorite school lunch is curry and rice. ( Short and spicy since we don't want to annoy anyone ;D )

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