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special needs

Page history last edited by Sendaiben 15 years ago




Most special needs classes involve extremely mixed abilities. Often you will have students who can have a conversation with you in English alongside students who aren't able to do so in Japanese. These extremes of ability mean that most competitive activities are not appropriate for these classes.


In order to have successful classes with special needs students (often referred to as "tokushuu" in Japanese) it is necessary to involve their regular teachers in the class. Special needs teachers spend all day with their students, and know them extremely well. They are likely to know what kind of activities they would enjoy, and what they are capable of. Unfortunately, most special needs teachers have little experience of teaching English, and will instinctively defer to the ALT in terms of planning and conducting the class. I believe the best strategy for ALTs is to encourage and support the teachers to plan and take the lead in class, and to join in and interact with the students.


Activities that work well with special needs classes include:


  • learning nouns (such as fruit or animals)
  • using pictures, flashcards, and realia to present things
  • touching things, moving around the room
  • singing or clapping along to music
  • doing gestures or imitating things (such as animal sounds)
  • interacting with teachers (through handshakes, pat-a-cake type activities, greetings)
  • picking things up
  • asking for things


Activities that tend to work less well include:


  • dialogues
  • learning abstract concepts
  • competitive games


With special needs classes in particular, every situation really is different, so work with the teachers to find activities that will suit your students.


Lesson plans and activities


How are you Mr Wolf

How are you? and feelings practice. Can be adapted for time

I Spy

Activities based around the popular I SPY books/format


6 ideas for number games

Tic Tac Toe(2007)

An activity to use with special needs classes

What is this

'This' and 'That' practice

What is your favorite animal

Animal vocabulary and grammar

What is your favorite color

Color vocabulary and grammar

What sport do you play

Sport vocabulary and grammar

Where is the Lion

Prepositions with animal vocabulary

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