How Do I Teach Polite Requests?

Occasionally you will encounter a student so rude that they could be mistaken for a Frenchman. France is famous all over world for it’s inventive cuisine and unsurpassed rudeness, but some of that rudeness derives from misappropriate English language use. Japanese are genetically not rude people, and therefore it is important to give the students the appropriate language to express themselves in the politest ways possible. This is often done with the use of polite requests, since if a request isn’t polite, it’s an order.

Have the student transcribe the following 4 questions in random order;

  • Give me your wallet.
  • Please give me your wallet.
  • Could I have your wallet?
  • May I have your wallet?

Have the student number the sentences from most polite to least polite.
If you notice any problems in the order, create an apprehensive look and back away from the sentences as though they are a very ugly baby. The student will notice your apprehension, and their shame will help them to remember the mistake.
Once the sentences have been verified to be in the correct order, read them out loud and have the student mimic while passing a wallet back and forth. If both the student and the teacher are uncomfortable with using real wallets, they may be substituted with a piece of paper that has the word “wallet” written on it.
Once the student has had enough practice saying the sentences, have them transcribe the following 4 nationalities in random order;

  • French
  • American
  • English
  • Japanese

Have the student number the nationalties from most polite to least polite.
Once again, if there are problems with the order, show your apprehension. The student’s shame from earlier in the class will be compounded, further helping them to remember the correct answers.
Match the nationalties with appropriate politeness, and practice saying the sentences.
Practice this exercise until all of the sentences have been said twice.

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    One thought on “How Do I Teach Polite Requests?

    1. The only thing more offensive than a Frenchman is two Frenchmen. I tell every one of my students with me, and they unanimously agree.

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