How can I have my student share their coffee?

We’ve all had classes where our eyelids can barely stay open, and we spend most of the class trying to keep our head upright. When a student brings a can or cup of coffee into the classroom with no intention of sharing it, they are inadvertently insulting the teacher and they are responsible for creating a lower quality lesson.

Coffee started as a drink in the Middle East, to keep desert dwellers awake throughout the nights during Ramadan, allowing them to fully enjoy their times of feasting before the day-long fasting. Coffee has spread all throughout the world and is renowned for its ability to keep people awake. Of all of the world’s coffee, Japanese coffee is among the most delicious.

How can we have the student share their coffee? Like everything else, it must be integrated into the lesson.

There are two effective methods that work for this;
1) Telephone roleplays
Communication becomes much more difficult when you are unable to see body language or facial expressions, such as when conversing via telephone. Tell the student that in order to prepare for these situations, you will do some roleplays where you are not allowed to see each others faces.
Have the student turn their chair around so that they are no longer facing you. As the student talks, you will be able to take a sip of coffee.
There is an inherent problem with this in that it is a sneaky way to get coffee. If the student catches you, they will very likely be unhappy. However, this method has a greater success rate.

2) “Would like” practice
Students expect a certain degree of fun and excitement in the classroom, and practicing “would like” is the best way to do so.

“Would like” is very useful language in that it lends itself to a variety of situations. To drink some of the student’s coffee, start by asking three “would like” questions in either the verb or noun pattern, incorporating objects in the classroom (ie, Would you like to use my pen? Would you like to open a window?”)

After asking 3 questions, have the student ask 3. They will not think to ask about the coffee, so if you see the student struggle to compose a question, point to their coffee to encourage that question. When they ask a variant of “Would you like to drink my coffee?”, answer with an enthusiastic and grammatically relevant “Yes, I would” and take a quick sip. Most students find this very amusing, and you can have them repeat the question to have a second or third drink.

How Do I Teach the Difference Between Ketchup and Catsup?

Several years ago we had a student who was confused about ketchup and catsup. This took the staff by surprise. Being native English speakers ourselves, we had never put ourselves in the shoes of the student. We had all assumed that the difference was as clear as night and day, but were surprised to find out otherwise.

In teaching the difference between ketchup and catsup, start by making a list of flavors with the student. Ketchup is universally accepted as being “zesty” and “flavorful” whereas catsup is more “zippy” and “tangy”. After writing down the flavors, have the student associate other foods with them such as V8 juice, bisque, secret sauce, etc. The student will begin to see the clear difference between the two.

To help the student remember, engage them in a roleplay. In the roleplay, you both need to choose a restaurant for a foreign dignitary with very demanding tastes. The dignitary wishes to eat french fries, but you both need to compare the merits of ketchup as well as catsup as a topping. One person campaigns for ketchup, and the other for catsup. When finished, switch roles and try again.

Why Do Pencils In Japan Not Have Erasers?

In Japan, it is rare to have a pencil with an attached eraser. An eraser company by the name of Momo has successfully lobbied the Japanese government to make it illegal based on safety concerns. Other countries are little behind the times, unaware of the number of eraser/eye related injuries that happen everyday in the classroom.

Upon hearing of the eraser situations in other countries, most students are unable to grasp the concept. This may be remedied by visual demonstrations. The teacher should bring some cellophane tape into the class along with several pencils of different sizes, one eraser, and a sharp knife. In the classroom, have the student cut the eraser into smaller pieces and tape them to the ends of the pencils; one piece per pencil. Once the activity is finished, have the students hold all of the pencils and say “These are American pencils”, and have the student repeat.

It is conductive to the learning process to have the student apply their knowledge. You can do a roleplay with the student where they wish to buy some American pencils, but you only cell Japanese pencils, cellophane tape, sharp knives, and erasers. The student will instruct you how to create American pencils and then purchase all of them.

How Do I Teach Proper Usage of “See”, “Look At”, and “Watch”?

Since the Japanese language has only one word to represent the English words “see”, “look at”, and “watch”, a great deal of confusion arises from their use. At first glance, these words to represent sight are interchangable, but at second glance we can see that they are very uninterchangable.

To watch something means to follow its movement with your eyes. To look at something means to focus on object, often stationary. To see incorporates peripheral vision, and rather than being focused, the eyes take in everything possible.

An easy way to demonstrate the difference between these words involves a pencil, and some scotch tape. Using the scotch tape, attach the pencil to your forehead so that it points straight out. This will represent the focus of your attention.

If possible, freeze a fly or bee for use inside of the class. Make sure you have a window to it to escape from. (If you don’t have a window, it may be best to simply wait for a clock’s minute hand to tick over to demonstrate the next part.) With the pencil taped to your head, follow the movement of something in the room to demonstrate “watching”. Help the student affix a pencil of pen of their own and join you.

To teach “looking at”, stare intently at an object in the room that is stationary. “To watch” and “To look at” may be contrasted by use of a TV, as any direction that isn’t facing the screen is “looking at” the TV, and not “watching” it.

Finally, to represent “to see”, look directly at the student’s eyes. List items that you can see in your periphery, all while keeping your vision locked onto the student. Have the student do the same.

This teaching activity lends easily to “listen to” and “hear”. The pencil may be taped to that it protrudes from the ear to demonstrate the direction of focus for “listening to”.

How Can I Teach Proper Pronunciation of the Word “One”?

Pronunciation of the word “one” is as important as it is vital. Therefore, a great degree of teaching is required.

As most students revert to lesser pronunciations such as “wun”, “wuhn”, or “won”, it is the duty of the teacher to repeatedly yell “one” while pointing to the written word.
In addition to pronunciation of the word being of higher difficulty for the Japanese students, up until the late 1800s there was no concept of “1” or “0” in Japanese, lending to their concept of teamwork. If they used Katakana to write “team”, it would look like “chiimu” (チーム), but still wouldn’t have an “i” in it because it would have two “i”s.

If the student is unfamiliar with the concept of 1 and 0, it is best to draw an image of a group of people. Ask the student to provide names and short backgrounds for each image of a person. After that has been established, explain that they are all dying, and use a red marker to represent blood, and a black marker to cross out their eyes or draw widows. With one person left alive, say the word “one” and have the student repeat. Draw a representation of death for the final person and say “zero” and have the student repeat. This will help the student to associate the numbers with the concept.