How Do I Teach the Difference Between Pants and Panties?

There are thousands of foreign loan words in the Japanese language, most of which derive from English. Even though they all resemble English words, the meanings are often changed upon entering Japanese.

A shining example of this is the English word “pants”, which when said in Japan, is assumed to be “pantsu”, which mean panties. Great care should be taken when teaching this word, especially to children. If children hear the word “pants”, the classroom is likely to erupt into chaos in the same way that Rhesus Monkeys behave when thrown into an empty swimming pool with a tiger.

japanesepantiesWrangling the attention of the students back to the topic of English often requires a combination of candy and noise makers, which are always paid from the teachers own pocket! Therefore, a quick and effective way to teach the difference between these words must be used.

Find a pair of clean panties, and tie a string or some yarn to them. Attach the other end to your wrist (this will stop the children from running off with the underwear). Next, arrange the students in a semi-circle, with you in the center. Start by handing the student to your left the panties on a string. Say “panties” to the student, and have them repeat, paying careful attention to the vowel sound at the end of the word. Have the student hand the panties to the student sitting next to them and repeat. Continue until every student has had a chance to perform.

The next activity must contrast the meanings of pants and panties. Split the room into two groups, based on the clothing the student is wearing. When you call out “pants”, have all of the boys in the room stand up and say “pants”. When you call out “panties”, have all of the girls in the room stand up and say “panties”.

Why Do Students Cringe When Balloons Are Popped In the Classroom?

This “fight or flight” mechanism is built into all humans, but is oddly absent from those in positions of power, making them better leaders and/or teachers. As teachers, popping balloons is as natural as using present perfect tense to describe life experiences, yet many students become uncomfortable after several balloons are popped in the classroom.

To lessen the fear that the students exhibit, forewarn them of the balloon popping so that they may mentally prepare themselves. Students do this in a variety of ways, whether it be plugging their ears, tensing their jaw muscles, focusing intently on the balloon, or asking questions related to your motivations.

balloon

A great way to move past the irrational fear of popping balloons would be to allow the student to pop a few themselves, under the supervision of the teacher. With the side of the balloon closest to the student (to avoid blowback), have them lightly insert a sharpened pin into it, bursting it. This may be repeated for every inflated balloon in the classroom.

As always, be respectful of the student’s needs.

How Do I Teach Present Progressive Future Meaning?

Present progressive is the grammar pattern used to express an event or state that is persisting, whether this be “sitting”, “talking”, “watching”, or any other verb. Progressive form can also extend to past, future, and perfect tenses, but the least often explained is present progressive tense with future meaning.

This should be taught immediately after present tense, and preferably before simple future tense, as Japanese has no future tense, and this grammar form most closely resembles their grammar.

iamcoming

The fat man is coming quickly.

Find a picture of a man, and have the student choose a name for the man. This name should be either an American name or a Japanese name, but any name will work for the grammar. Write this name on a piece of paper, and place it next to the man’s picture. Have the student read A in the below conversation, and the teacher reads B. After reading twice, switch roles and perform the exercise again, substituting information. More advanced students can add additional information.

A) When are you coming?
B) I am coming (now/in 5 minutes/at 3pm/etc.)
A) “oh no, too soon!”/”ok, good timing!”

How Do I Teach Taboo Numbers?

In most situations, Japan uses all of the numbers available. However, due to different readings being available for the numbers, some have additional meanings which mean “death” or “suffer”.
This is a difficult concept that takes some explanation. The Japanese kanji system originated from China, and Chinese reading of these kanji came with it. Each character has multiple ways to read it, and in the case of “four”, it can be said either as “yon”(よん) or “shi”(シ).
“shi” also means “death” in Japanese, which is why hushing a Japanese person with “shhh” is quite serious, as it implies that you desire the silence that will come from their death.
Hospitals do not have 4th or 9th floors, as they do not want to be associated with death or suffering. Many parking lots also do not have 4th or 9th spots. Also, McDonald’s does not have a 9 piece Chicken McNugget set.

taboojapanesenumberAlthough English does not carry the stigma that Japanese does, the students may show some unease when you have a listening activity and the CD is set to track 4, or the student needs to turn to page 9.

In these situations it is vital that you reassure the student that nothing bad will come of using those numbers in English. Teaching numbers in English should not be associated with negative experiences. Do your best to count without hesitation, and encourage the student to do so as well.

What Do I Do If My ESL Student Takes My Seat?

Imagine entering your car, only to find a stranger sitting in the driver’s seat. They don’t have keys, because it isn’t their car. They turn to you and smile, waiting for you to start the car and drive. This is exactly how it feels when a teacher enters a classroom to find a student sitting in the wrong seat.

Not only is it off-putting, but also creates a hostile environment that hinders learning. When students sit in the wrong seat, either by accident or on purpose, they are disrupting their own learning. By placing the teacher in an unfamiliar position, possibly further away from the whiteboard or across the room from a CD player, the classroom’s calm gives way to chaos. This situation must be rectified as soon as it is spotted.

As a teacher, if you enter the classroom and notice things are amiss, hang back in the doorway for a moment and see if the student realizes their error. If the student doesn’t move, then you should enter the classroom and lightly bump into them, making light conversation in hopes that they realize that they are sitting in the wrong seat. This will prompt most students to move to the correct seat, but if it doesn’t, do not give up and sit down in the incorrect seat unless you want the student to believe that there is no problem.

Many rooms have tables with chairs arranged on opposite sides. If the student doesn’t move, place your seat as close to the student as possible, and suggest that they move to the “empty side” of the table. To entice the student, you can place their homework or textbook in the area where you wish them to sit. For younger students, small candies or stuffed animals work best.

Adult students are oftentimes more difficult to move, as they cannot be physically lifted and moved as easily as children. However, if students are of a high enough level of comprehension, you can ask them politely to change seats. In many cases they will rightfully apologize and relocate themselves.

Although the situation can be very frustrating, it is vital that you do not let your emotions get the best of you. Crying, lashing out, or throwing objects are all acts that will cause the learning environment to become soured. Write any and all emotions that you are feeling on a piece of paper, and share the paper with the student. Introduce any unknown vocabulary via facial expressions, or write the definitions on the paper, next to the words.