Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Do you sell overseas besides Japan?
A: Yes, we offer international shipping to most countries.
click here to visit the international sales page.
Q: Can absolute beginners play AGO?
A: Yes, in fact AGO Phonics Aqua is made with these students in mind. With absolute beginners, the AGO Phonics sound pad app comes in handy by providing a model voice.
Q: How old do children need to be to play?
If you just play simple games (like highest card wins) with AGO cards, AGO works well with four year olds. More advanced methods of play (such as last card, or go fish) work best with kids 6 and over. With kids that can't read, you need to use the cards with Kana (for Japanese students), or play the 'Quiz Show' (whereby a teacher / parent reads the cards out, so it is more about answering practice, and getting students familiar with the grammar and vocab).
In that type of situation, you might find it better to play the AGO phonics games, and work on reading skills first.
Q: There's quite a lot of language on the AGO Aqua Q&A cards. Is it realistic for children to pick it all up
in a year?
A: Yes. Of course, some students learn more quickly than others, or have a better base understanding
of English to begin with. All the same, we've found that children typically get their head round
the language on the AGO Aqua deck within a matter of months if you play each week. Obviously you want to build and develop skills week by week.
Students that own their own decks and can play at home tend to learn much faster, for fun! It is not uncommon for kids to work their way through all of the AGO Q&A levels in a matter of months!
the reasons for the speed in which children tend to pick up AGO are: picture clues (which stick in students'
minds, stimulate curiosity and add context), involvement (AGO triggers students' competitive nature, it's fun,
and children are motivated to figure out what the cards mean, in order to do well in the game), repetition (each
new game is in essence a review of the same cohesive set of grammar points, appearing in a random yet controlled manner. Grammar structures and vocabulary are typically repeated over several cards within a level.
Remember: children are smart, and their minds designed to absorb new language. The goal of AGO is to
harness children's natural learning strengths and interests in a format that is appealing and easy for
them to pick up.
Q: What are some strategies to get parents onside and playing with their children at
The AGO phonics App models pronunciation of vocabulary used in the games, and the interface means that if a child doesn't know a word, they can quickly reference it, and hear it. This also can help reassure parents that are not confident in their pronunciation, as well.
As for the Q&A games... In Japan at least, we've found that parents are seldom troubled by the grammar on them in this context (i.e. they will have covered the grammar and vocabulary and beyond at Jr high school and high school. The app is not always necessary, but some parents find it gives them extra confidence, particularly if they are worried about their pronunciation.
Some families like to print out the translations to work with.
Q: Can I use AGO Q&A as my main course material in class?
A: You can, and some schools and teachers do exactly this!... (i.e. AGO provides a basis from which vocabulary, reading skills and grammar understanding are formed). Teaching in this way tends to work best if a number of other supplementary materials are still used in lessons (e.g. other games, worksheets and activities, notebooks for writing practice)...etc.
In other words, there is enough picture vocabulary and grammar on a deck of AGO Q&A cards to fill a years worth of English
lessons, but that's not to say students should just play AGO all lesson. It's all about balance,
Learning phonics, reading, vocab acquisition and Q&A practice are just a few aspects of learning English...
Also, most of the AGO questions are in the 1st and 2nd person -i.e. talking about 'you', or 'it', and
don't focus on he / she / they / we, so much. Course books will often teach the same grammar on
an AGO card, but by it's nature, focus on different aspects of it (i.e. practicing he / she / they,
etc.) and hence the AGO and course books tend to complement each other well.
Q: Isn't using the deck with katakana subtitles detrimental to children's reading and
Yes, and no...
For one thing, with katakana so prevalent throughout Japan, be it on TV, in books and on the street, chances are, the damage has already been / is already being done... so, playing this game won't really make too much difference, so long as it's used sparingly, and as a learning scaffold.
But, of course, there's a right way, and a wrong way to use the katakana deck, and our experience has shown that if done right, the end
result tends to be children mastering the AGO Aqua deck quicker than if they did it the hard way!
Why can kana help? Quite
simply, as Japanese kids can
read katakana at breakneck speed, reading no longer becomes an issue. It's a mental loading thing, so by freeing up mental space, there's more room to focus on learning the grammar,
as well as asking and answering the questions.
On the other hand, there's potential for children learn bad habits, or begin to rely on the
katakana, so you have to be careful, and be a little strategic about the way you use the kana deck - if you opt to
use it at all. Check this article for some more ideas on how to use the katakana deck effectively.
Q: Do you recommend students to own their own copy of AGO?
A: In short, yes! But, it's not essential.
If AGO is played in class, children should be able to pick it up the language on a Q&A deck in the course of
the year. And besides that, work through 2 or 3 Phonics decks.
We recommend children own their own AGO decks, because it tends to speed up their progress, a lot! Why?Children like cards (in case you haven't
noticed!), and they will play at home of their own volition, on rainy days or family holidays, etc. whether
you set it for homework or not. Being able to play AGO well, and beat your family members is very
satisfying and a source of pride for many children - and it gets parents involved in a fun way, too. Not to mention, in the greater scheme of things, when
parents are often investing around $1000 a year on English lessons, spending around $10 for a
deck of AGO cards is a pretty good investment, if it speeds up the learning process, and increases enjoyment.
Q: What other ways do you recommend to get students speaking English at home?
A: Many children only study English for one hour a week (so about 50 hours a year), plus do a
little homework each week. The reality is that this is just not enough time to make really
swift progress in English. AGO offers a realistic way to improve this stat, but is by no means
the only way. Ultimately, one of the most important things a teacher can do is to inspire their students to
take a strong interest in English, and enrol their parents in the importance of nurturing this desire outside the
We strongly recommend that English schools invest in ELT 'readers', and consider developing a
library, where children check out a graded library book every week.
An excellent 'reader' book series for children learning to read is the 'Fun phonics readers' series. They are great value - each book contains 20 stories based
on the 'Finding Out' phonics curriculum, and the difficulty, structure and difficulty progression are spot
on. Each story is set on it's own page, with colorful illustrations. I like to set students
one page each week (and a review of another page) for homework. (we have no affiliation with this product, besides liking it).
You tube videos, international pen pals, or encouraging parents to get the cartoon network (in
English) can get great results, as well. Plus, there are plenty of good apps out there, too.
AGO APPS FAQ:
Q: What AGO products have codes for Home edition apps?
A: Only AGO Phonics and Q&A Box Sets have codes.
(Individual packs of AGO cards do not contain codes).
Q: How do I set up a AGO Home Edition App?
A: Enter any email address, and enter the serial number from the insert in box sets as the ‘password’.
After the app unlocks, an email will be sent confirming unlock and with a copy of the code.
Q: Can I use the unlock code on multiple devices?
A: The code can be used up to 5 times. It works on both ios and android. You must use the same email address and code combination each time.
Q: What differences are there between the Home Edition apps and full versions:
A: The Q&A Home edition app is essentially the same as the paid version.
The Phonics Home Edition apps only cover levels 1-3 of AGO cards, and only feature a female voice.
The full versions (with Purple level of phonics, and a male voice, and a few other things) can be bought from the apple app store, or google play store.
PAYMENT and PAYPAL TROUBLESHOOTING:
Q: Why does the paypal payment page switch to Japanese when I set my delivery address to somewhere in
A: Frustratingly for expats, Paypal sometimes assumes that you speak the language native to the
country you reside in, so when you enter your delivery address, it changes its language settings
accordingly. However, there is a drop down list in the upper right corner which allows you to change the
language back to English. It looks like this (in Japan, at least): 日本語. Click it, and your problem
should be solved. Creating your own paypal account can permanently sidestep this problem.
Q: As my credit card is registered overseas, selecting a Japanese delivery address is
A: If it helps, just enter your overseas address, and leave a note in the shipping comments for
us, or send us an email, and we will make sure your cards are sent to the right location.
Q: Can I pay by furikomi (bank payment), or COD?
A:We no longer offer these payment options. However, englishbooks.jp, and Foreign Buyers Club do!
So visit their website, if that is how you'd prefer to pay!