In life, work and play are usually clearly separated, but students at one Japanese high school are finding help with their studies from an unlikely and somewhat controversial source – Nintendo's DS games machine.

One teacher at Tokyo Joshi Gakuen (Tokyo Academy for Girls) has creatively pushed the traditional school's limits by introducing the handheld into her English classes in a bid to liven up what is typically a dry, impractical subject in Japan.

Interactive learning

Motoko Okubo's classes of teenage girls use the Nintendo gamer to practise writing English, reinforce vocabulary learning and for listening comprehension.

Although the DS program is still just a trial run by Okubo alone, results have been good, with students claiming to be more interested and relating better to the familiar machine than to dusty old books.

No toys on us

Still, even though the DS is well known for its educational software, some of Okubo's fellow teachers are still unsure of the value of bringing a 'toy' into the classroom.

However the trial turns out, the kids still have to return the handhelds at the end of each lesson – the strict rules of the school allow for no 'inessential' items at all; not even Mario and co.