How Do I Teach the Difference Between Jail and Prison?


A guest at a prison or jail (likely a jail)

Most students have not been through the legal system and have yet to experience the difference between jail and prison firsthand. The differences are many, but can be summarized rather easily. Although not exclusive, jails are for light-skinned people and prisons are for dark-skinned people, but there are of course many other differences.

To teach the difference between jail and prison, write the words on the board. Have the student brainstorm different aspects of each (food, lodgings, activities, television time, yard size), and write those items on the board as well. For each aspect, act out the differences while the student takes notes. For example, for jail food you could make a disappointed face at the flavor followed by a look of resolved gladness that your dessert will not be taken, whereas prison food would be a slightly less disappointed face at the flavor and a confused face at the consistency and texture of the soups. Repeat for each aspect.

After the student has taken sufficient notes, start a roleplay. You take on the role of a reporter and the student a sheriff, and the sheriff has to explain the differences between the facilities in his/her jurisdiction. When the student has completed the roleplay, switch roles.

Please leave any inquiries concerning differences in the message area below.

How Do I Teach Causative Form?

English has several words associated with causative form;

  • Make
  • Have
  • Let

Whereas Japanese only has one. The intricacies of English are like a Faberge egg, whereas Japanese is devoid of these like an ordinary ostrich egg. Teaching causative form is not easy, but it is quite possible.

For teaching “make“, the student must be removed from their comfort zone and put into a position where they will force you to do something, thus satisfying the requirement of “making” you do something.
At the beginning of class, write the word “make” on the board. Underline it once with red or black ink. Next, stand about 5 cm away from the seated student and slowly move towards them. They may try to move away, but the classrooms are only so big that they will eventually be cornered. Encourage them to use English to express their will. Once they ask you to move away from them, say “make me” and playfully take a fighting stance to let the student know that touching is acceptable. After they force you away from them, go to the board and introduce the past tense of “make” along with the sentence “You made me move away”.
This activity can be repeated by keeping the window on a cold day and the student making you close it, or by turning off the lights to the classroom and the student making you turn them on.

butlerFor teaching “have“, tell the student that you are a maid/butler, and you will clean their house. Ask them “what will you have me do, master?” Have the student respond with “I will have you _______”. Proper responses would be “cook a meal”, “chlorinate the pool”, “clean the bathroom”, “wash the sheets”, “mow the lawn”, etc.
If the student is having a difficult time coming up with ideas, suggest sentences to them in the form of “Will you have me ____?”
When finished, write the words “have” and “had” on the board next to “make” and “made”, and have the student create sentences for each.

For teaching “let“, ask the student about their childhood. Did they eat candy everyday for dinner? No? Their parents didn’t let them. Tell the student that their parents didn’t let them eat candy, and write “let” on the board and underline it with a soothing blue. The differences in the words “make”, “have”, and “let” will begin to form in the student’s mind.
Ask the student if their parents let them stay awake 24 hours, drink alcohol, enjoy the company of opposite sex friends, and choose their own clothing. Be clear about ages, otherwise the student may become confused.
Have the student practice “let” by asking questions about your boss. For a little fun, answer “no” to all of the students questions to earn some of their pity, which will make subsequent classes easier to teach.

If the student is still unclear on the differences between “make”, “have”, and “let”. Have them write 10 sentences for each to be checked at the next class. Make them type the homework, and let them submit it in an envelope.

Have a nice day.

How Do I Teach the Difference Between Pants and Panties?

There are thousands of foreign loan words in the Japanese language, most of which derive from English. Even though they all resemble English words, the meanings are often changed upon entering Japanese.

A shining example of this is the English word “pants”, which when said in Japan, is assumed to be “pantsu”, which mean panties. Great care should be taken when teaching this word, especially to children. If children hear the word “pants”, the classroom is likely to erupt into chaos in the same way that Rhesus Monkeys behave when thrown into an empty swimming pool with a tiger.

japanesepantiesWrangling the attention of the students back to the topic of English often requires a combination of candy and noise makers, which are always paid from the teachers own pocket! Therefore, a quick and effective way to teach the difference between these words must be used.

Find a pair of clean panties, and tie a string or some yarn to them. Attach the other end to your wrist (this will stop the children from running off with the underwear). Next, arrange the students in a semi-circle, with you in the center. Start by handing the student to your left the panties on a string. Say “panties” to the student, and have them repeat, paying careful attention to the vowel sound at the end of the word. Have the student hand the panties to the student sitting next to them and repeat. Continue until every student has had a chance to perform.

The next activity must contrast the meanings of pants and panties. Split the room into two groups, based on the clothing the student is wearing. When you call out “pants”, have all of the boys in the room stand up and say “pants”. When you call out “panties”, have all of the girls in the room stand up and say “panties”.

How Do I Teach Present Progressive Future Meaning?

Present progressive is the grammar pattern used to express an event or state that is persisting, whether this be “sitting”, “talking”, “watching”, or any other verb. Progressive form can also extend to past, future, and perfect tenses, but the least often explained is present progressive tense with future meaning.

This should be taught immediately after present tense, and preferably before simple future tense, as Japanese has no future tense, and this grammar form most closely resembles their grammar.


The fat man is coming quickly.

Find a picture of a man, and have the student choose a name for the man. This name should be either an American name or a Japanese name, but any name will work for the grammar. Write this name on a piece of paper, and place it next to the man’s picture. Have the student read A in the below conversation, and the teacher reads B. After reading twice, switch roles and perform the exercise again, substituting information. More advanced students can add additional information.

A) When are you coming?
B) I am coming (now/in 5 minutes/at 3pm/etc.)
A) “oh no, too soon!”/”ok, good timing!”

How Do I Teach Taboo Numbers?

In most situations, Japan uses all of the numbers available. However, due to different readings being available for the numbers, some have additional meanings which mean “death” or “suffer”.
This is a difficult concept that takes some explanation. The Japanese kanji system originated from China, and Chinese reading of these kanji came with it. Each character has multiple ways to read it, and in the case of “four”, it can be said either as “yon”(よん) or “shi”(シ).
“shi” also means “death” in Japanese, which is why hushing a Japanese person with “shhh” is quite serious, as it implies that you desire the silence that will come from their death.
Hospitals do not have 4th or 9th floors, as they do not want to be associated with death or suffering. Many parking lots also do not have 4th or 9th spots. Also, McDonald’s does not have a 9 piece Chicken McNugget set.

taboojapanesenumberAlthough English does not carry the stigma that Japanese does, the students may show some unease when you have a listening activity and the CD is set to track 4, or the student needs to turn to page 9.

In these situations it is vital that you reassure the student that nothing bad will come of using those numbers in English. Teaching numbers in English should not be associated with negative experiences. Do your best to count without hesitation, and encourage the student to do so as well.