Head, and Shoulders, Knees, and Toes!

There’s a first time for everything, right? Right. I had the chance to teach elementary students English for the first time in Shiojiri in Nagano prefecture, which was a 3 hour bus ride from Tokyo. It was good for me to get to see what Japan is like outside of the capital city. Shiojiri is a smaller city that even has some countryside to it, including rice paddies!

Japan countryside

Rice paddy

Shiojiri, Japan

I taught at a juku, or learning center/cram school. Students go here after school or on the weekends to learn and study even more than they do during the school day. They study various subjects, but the most popular subject for jukus is English. This juku was very modern and nice!

The room I taught in

So this was a special session on a Saturday that was advertised as “learning joyful English” from an American and learning about studying abroad.


I hope this advertisement said some good things about me!

Teaching these kids was a hard task because I didn’t have a translator, and they hardly knew any English. So, I thought singing some sort of the song would be the best route. I decided on teaching the parts of the body using the song “Head, and Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”. I had a PowerPoint that I used to show a cartoon picture of each body part in the song. I said the word while pointing to the body part, then had us say it together, and they had the students say it on their own. We did that with each body part and then sang the song. About 8 times. Haha. It wore me out! We also did the hokey pokey, which, in hind-sight, may have been a bit too difficult for them. Oh well. You live and learn. I think they enjoyed it and hopefully will now remember the parts of the body.

Teaching ESL elementary

The elementary students

I did have a little mishap while I was there. I was in the bathroom right before it was time for me to teach, I used the facility, flushed, and then was washing my hands. As I was washing my hands, there was a knock on the door. I was thinking- give me a minute, will ya?! Then a lady came in and said in broken English, “Are you ok?” I told her I was fine and was very puzzled as to why she was asking. When we exited the bathroom together, there were 2 security guards with very concerned looks on their faces. Apparently, when I thought I was flushing the toilet, I instead pushed the emergency help button. My bad. They probably thought I was idiot, but hey, I can’t read Japanese, and I’m not used to having emergency buttons in the bathroom! Whoops! All’s well that ends well, right?

This was a good day for me filled with many new experiences, so I’m really glad I had the chance to go to Shiojiri. And next time I go there I’ll be more careful about what buttons I push in the bathroom!



7 thoughts on “Head, and Shoulders, Knees, and Toes!

    • I was just in South Korea for a week this summer, but I didn’t do any teaching there. I got the feeling that in Japan they work you waaay to hard. I taught in China for 2 years, and I really enjoyed that. I’d say China or Korea might be the way to go!

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