Keeping your students engaged can be just as challenging as explaining the most difficult Japanese grammar rules.
After all, there’s a lot out there that could distract them.
Between studying, hanging out with friends and mastering flossing, students have a lot on their plates.
But you can reel them back into their Japanese studies with some of the most engaging and educational learning resources out there: authentic materials.
These four types of authentic resources will help you thoroughly engage your students with amazing Japanese learning material.
Why Use Authentic Materials for Your Japanese Class?
First of all, authentic materials are often more engaging than other types of curriculum. Most authentic materials are designed to hold people’s attention. After all, creators of authentic content don’t want to lose viewers or readers. So much like Japanese games and grammar games, authentic materials are likely to hold your students’ attention and make them more engaged in the learning process.
Plus, they allow students to see grammar rules and vocabulary in real-world contexts. So much of language learning can feel theoretical. For instance, students may know the meanings of words without ever having heard how native speakers actually use them. Using authentic materials can help your Japanese students see the vocabulary and grammar they’ve worked so hard on in a real-world context, which reinforces what they already learned.
Finally, using authentic materials can help build students’ confidence. Since students in your classroom may not have ever used the Japanese language outside of your lessons, they may only be comfortable with using Japanese in this setting. Authentic materials can help build confidence and serve as a bridge towards using Japanese in the real world. Plus, using your materials also acts as a valuable building block that can set the foundation for your students to become fluent in Japanese down the road.
4 Authentic Materials for Japanese Class Every Teacher Needs
1. Video Clips
Why they’re great:
Videos provide listening practice with visual context, which allows students to guess what’s happening even if they miss some words or phrases. Plus, videos are often brief enough that you can usually squeeze one or two in when you have a little time left over before the bell rings.
If you want to help your students use authentic videos without ever feeling like they are in over their heads, try FluentU!
FluentU takes authentic, real-world videos like movie trailers, music videos and news, and transforms them into powerful learning tools. Each video is captioned and annotated, giving students easy access to any word’s definition, example sentences and an associated image.
Plus, if your students need a change of pace, they can also try quiz mode, which fuses videos, images and example sentences into flashcards and activities for an engaging and authentic experience.
Perhaps best of all, FluentU is flexible. Teachers can select what videos students watch and how quickly. Meanwhile, FluentU’s algorithm tracks learning, so students are presented with questions based on what they already know, thereby building on existing knowledge. Whether your Japanese students are just starting out or are advanced, FluentU can help develop their skills further.
More than just a video service, FluentU offers an ever-expanding range of Japanese curriculum, including interactive games and exercises, teaching tools and other features that can be used as supplemental Japanese material or standalone lessons.
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Since there are plenty of YouTubers based in Japan, you can also find terrific authentic content through YouTube and play it for your class through a computer, Roku or smart TV.
The Fake Show is a great channel for Japanese classrooms. These short, fun videos could quickly become your students’ favorite part of Japanese class. And with subtitling options often available, you can even help your students along by allowing them to read along in Japanese or English. One fun video that students will love is “Eating the World’s Largest Gummy Worm! (Perhaps),” in which the host tries to consume a massive gummy worm.
Why it’s great:
Whether you have it on in the background during an activity or have your students pay attention exclusively to what they are hearing, listening to the radio can give valuable and varied listening practice. Best of all, you can choose from a number of genres based on your students’ skills levels, including music, talk radio and even sports broadcasts.
InternetRadio offers radio stations around the world that you can listen to for free online. The site offers over 20 Japanese-language radio stations, so you’ll have plenty of options for your classroom. While J-pop is definitely prevalent, you can also find oldies stations, hip hop and talk radio.
3. Written News
Why it’s great:
When your class needs a little reading practice, it is hard to beat written news. That’s because old fashioned news provides essential reading practice along with relevant current vocabulary that students can use in their day-to-day lives. Plus, since much of the news students encounter will focus on topics addressed by social studies classes, reading news in Japanese is a terrific way to build knowledge in several content areas.
You might be familiar with BBC’s English-language news coverage, but the media giant also offers plenty of Japanese content that students can read for free online. Otherwise, you might consider printing out stories if you need a little in-class reading practice but don’t have access to a computer lab.
If you want to give your students an opportunity to read authentic news articles that might be a little past their skill levels, Readlang is a terrific web reader that can help make even the most advanced Japanese texts accessible. With Readlang, students can click on words or phrases they don’t know for instant translation, saving them the time of toggling between their favorite news website and translator.
4. TV and Movies
Why they’re great:
Like videos, TV and movies provide visual context for listening practice, meaning that students can figure out what’s going on even if they don’t recognize all the vocabulary, which makes TV and movies a more approachable form of listening activities.
Plus, your students will likely be really excited at the opportunity to watch entertaining programs.
But that’s not all! Since TV shows and movies are usually longer than videos, they are unbeatable if you need an easy lesson plan for the next time you have a substitute teacher stand in for you.
Netflix has enough Japanese movies and TV shows to give your class hours of enjoyable practice. Just search “Japanese movies” or “Japanese TV shows” to see what Netflix has to offer. Best of all, flexible subtitling schemes allow you to decide whether or not you want to let your students use English subtitles or rely solely on their listening skills.
The “Mischievous Kiss” series is one good Netflix option for classroom use. It follows a high schooler who lives in her crush’s house, so young audiences are likely to enjoy it (or at least feel uncomfortable on the protagonist’s behalf).
Google Play offers plenty of Japanese TV and movies that you can pay to download, allowing you to select your favorite options and own them. And guess what… “Mischievous Kiss” is available from Google Play, too!
Don’t worry—you can purchase or rent downloadable material for any Apple devices you use in your classroom, too! To find the perfect material, just open the iTunes store on your favorite device and search “Japanese TV” or “Japanese movies” to see your selections. There, you can browse through a number of Japanese movies and TV shows, including popular anime, like longtime favorite, “Sailor Moon.”
If you haven’t already integrated these authentic resources into your Japanese classroom, it’s time to give them a try. Your students might even find them more engaging than Fortnite itself.
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