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Go: JHS GrammarUK/Japanese Gestures


SUBMITTED BY: Richard Fleming

BORROWED FROM / INSPIRED BY: A book entitled, Book of Japanese Gestures

EDITED BY: Tatyana Safronova

GRAMMAR: Gesture

EXAMPLE: In the UK this gesture means...

DATE ADDED: Nov 27, 2008


    Large Classes (16-39 Students)Ó


35-50 min.

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BRIEF OUTLINEStudents learn about gestures which look the same but have different meanings in Japan and the UK. However, ALTs should substitute their own country for the UK if these gestures are used there too.



  • UKJapaneseGestures worksheet: It has three parts - Japanese gestures, UK gesture clues and a worksheet.



  1. Students can work in groups or individually to discover the meaning of each of the gestures on the worksheet.
  2. Attach the UK gesture clues and the Japanese gestures to the walls around the room. Putting up the Japanese clues is optional, because the students should already know what the gestures mean. Students find the clues and try to match them to the gestures on their worksheets.
    When a student thinks they have the correct answer, they should check with the ALT / JTE. For example; "Excuse me Ms. ALT, in the UK, does this gesture mean ...?"  If their guess is correct, the student writes the sentence on their worksheet and moves on to the next meaning / gesture.
  4. Reward students who make an effort to explain the Japanese meanings to you in English and / or if you feel they truly understand the difference between the meanings of the gestures.  If you do reward students for trying to use English to explain the gesture, make sure you fold back the top of each Japanese gesture card because it includes the  English meaning.
  5. If all the students complete the activity, ask for volunteers to come up to the front and  demonstrate scenarios using the gestures from both countries.


    • Fold the Japanese gesture picture explanations until they are small, put them in a bag and let students choose at random the gestures they will have to learn about.
    • Add or change gestures.
    • Change the UK to your own home country: Australia, Canada, USA, etc

  • I taught this as part of a special "culture" lesson focusing on gestures and non-verbal communication.
  • At the beginning of the lesson you can ask a student to come up to the front to shake your hand. After that, offer to high-five them. They should know both of these.  However, if you offer a 'fist bump', they probably won't know what to do.  This is a good way to start the topic of culturally-specific gestures.

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