Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Easter Bunny Pushed Me Down in the Mud

People in Hokkaido seem to equate “Easter” with “Spring” and not the Christian event that I think of. The children’s English school where I teach had an Easter egg hunt at a nearby park this week for each class of students. The school doesn’t allow photos so I’ll just have to tell you about the fun instead of showing you.  It was more like a treasure hunt, where the students followed clues (in English) that were in plastic colored eggs. As you can imagine, this was quite exciting for the students, especially the five year olds.  As we were all running down the muddy path from one egg clue to the next, I tripped and fell flat out in the mud. I’m not sure how it happened, but I suspect the Easter Bunny pushed me.  The five year olds are very fast and were ahead of me when I fell, so there were no witnesses to what really happened.

I may have already written about how you take your shoes off at the door and sit on the floor at this school.  Well, I couldn’t sit down when we returned to the school because I was all muddy.  I continued to be muddy for the older children’s class and egg hunt, the walk back to the station, and the return trip home on the bus.  I’ve washed the pants three times and they aren’t clean yet. I'll work on cleaning the jacket next.  Who knew teaching English was so messy?

In my university class, I’ve been using a fluency activity I learned at the JALT (Japan Association of Language Teachers) meeting, called 4-2-1. Half of the class are designated as speakers and half listeners.  I give them each the choice of 10 very easy topics, such as my sports team, animals at the zoo, television programs I like, etc.  The speakers each choose a topic and  talk on the same topic three times with three different listeners, for four minutes the first time, two minutes the second time, and for one minute the last time. The listeners can only listen. They can’t ask questions or make corrections.  I walk around and listen and keep the time.  By the third time (in the shortest time frame), they are much more confident with their talk and there are fewer pauses. We do this twice each class, giving each student a chance to be the speaker and the listener.   When I hear the same pronunciation problems or grammar mistakes from several students I can incorporate that into the next lesson without correcting anyone individually. If more than a few people choose the same topic in a class, I remove that topic from the selection for the next time, so they can talk about and hear different subjects.  I think they are starting to look forward to this activity each class.

This week after class, Alicia and I worked on a scrapbook album instead of stitching. She was surprised to be able to finish the album (except for the journaling she will do at home) in one afternoon using the power layout technique I taught her. Next week we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled stitching projects.

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