Using Engrish to Your Advantage

Today, in place of my usual Pop Culture post, I will be sharing a lesson plan that was a big hit.

In your time in Japan, it may have come to your attention that the English isn’t exactly, shall we say, correct. Consequently, it also may be teaching your students bad English while you’re away.

So, what I did was take the more blantantly obvious signs and discuss with my students what they think is wrong. It’s been my experience that when you explain the funnier signs, they also start to understand what is funny and then start to understand the nature of English grammar a little better. More importantly, it teaches them that they can’t speak English thinking like a Japanese person, and that directly translating never works.


However, be careful with the signs you use! You don’t want to discourage them into thinking that English is impossible for Japanese people!

This exercise is really for upper division English courses, and I have found it to work best on my third-years.

As always, a helpful site is Engrish. com. Try it out, and good luck!


One thought on “Using Engrish to Your Advantage

  1. I also did this sort of lesson with my third years – but at the end of the lesson, I also used examples of bad Japanese on a lot of things from T-shirts to tattoos.

    We talked about it in class and they ended up talking about which was more important in popular culture – good grammar or something that expresses an idea in the creators own words… t-shirt or tattoo. I was amused to find out that they thought the expression was more important, even in Japanese usage.

    Though, they agreed that signs definitely should be correct in usage, no matter what the language.

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