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.

What Should I Do If a Student Has a Really Nice Pen That I Want?

For a variety of reasons, students often buy expensive pens. Whether these be made of precious metals, have ornate carvings or engravings, or simply have a monogram on them, you will come across students who enjoy spending money on pens. For them to use the pens in the classroom and not ask if you would like to use the pen while teaching is inconsiderate.

First off, under no circumstances should you take the pen under the intention of stealing it, otherwise you can be charged. You will need to take the pen with the intention of borrowing it to avoid any legal issues.

There are several techniques that can be employed to do so; ranging from asking to borrow the pen to distracting the student and moving the pen into a bag or pocket. To ask to borrow the pen, you should have a strong rapport with the student to make the transfer of their pen to your hand as easy as possible. From that point on, depending on your relationship with the student, you can either ask to borrow the pen until the next class or simply put it in your pocket. If the student asks about the pen, you should return the pen and say that you had forgotten to return it.
japanese penIf you do not know the student well enough to ask about borrowing the pen, you will need to use a distraction and take the pen. This is more difficult than it sounds, as many classrooms are small and devoid of distractions. In these cases, it may help to have another teacher enter the classroom and lead the student into the hallways to give them some flashcards, which would allow you enough time to take the pen and replace it with a fake. Other options for distracting the student involve popping balloons under the desk, or turning on a CD player located behind the student.

In the unlikely situation where you are caught, deny that you have the pen, and ask the student questions in English until they become flustered. Remember, in Japan you cannot be charged with a crime if you didn’t intend to perform a crime, so tell everyone that you are holding onto the pen for safety or because you are borrowing it.

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”.

Why Do Students Cringe When Balloons Are Popped In the Classroom?

This “fight or flight” mechanism is built into all humans, but is oddly absent from those in positions of power, making them better leaders and/or teachers. As teachers, popping balloons is as natural as using present perfect tense to describe life experiences, yet many students become uncomfortable after several balloons are popped in the classroom.

To lessen the fear that the students exhibit, forewarn them of the balloon popping so that they may mentally prepare themselves. Students do this in a variety of ways, whether it be plugging their ears, tensing their jaw muscles, focusing intently on the balloon, or asking questions related to your motivations.


A great way to move past the irrational fear of popping balloons would be to allow the student to pop a few themselves, under the supervision of the teacher. With the side of the balloon closest to the student (to avoid blowback), have them lightly insert a sharpened pin into it, bursting it. This may be repeated for every inflated balloon in the classroom.

As always, be respectful of the student’s needs.

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!”