What Do I Do If a CD Is Scratched and I Need To Perform a Listening Activity?

We are teaching the best lesson of our lives, engaging the student and filling their brain full of English, when suddenly a listening activity occurs. Since CDs are rarely replaced, years of usage take their toll and result in CDs so scratched that they will barely play. Needing to apologize over the condition of the CDs not only reflects poorly on the teacher, but also on the school.

For more experienced teachers, there is always safety in using cassette tapes. Cassette tapes can never become scratched, and have the ever-important reliability that CDs simply cannot provide. Many teachers will decorate the tapes to create a more personal atmosphere for the student, and allow the student to cue them for the activity.

this is a CDFor those who do not have extra cassette tapes, another possibility is to record yourself narrating the listening activities. This is beneficial for three reasons; one, you own all of the rights. Two, you won’t be surprised by the content. Three, it delights the students, and they are more likely to believe that you are a professional narrator.

If your school has new CDs, keep them in pristine condition by never placing them in direct sunlight, lightly washing the backs with a solution of detergent and water by means of a soft towel, and never putting them directly on top of paper.

What Should I Do If a Student Has a Really Nice Pen That I Want?

For a variety of reasons, students often buy expensive pens. Whether these be made of precious metals, have ornate carvings or engravings, or simply have a monogram on them, you will come across students who enjoy spending money on pens. For them to use the pens in the classroom and not ask if you would like to use the pen while teaching is inconsiderate.

First off, under no circumstances should you take the pen under the intention of stealing it, otherwise you can be charged. You will need to take the pen with the intention of borrowing it to avoid any legal issues.

There are several techniques that can be employed to do so; ranging from asking to borrow the pen to distracting the student and moving the pen into a bag or pocket. To ask to borrow the pen, you should have a strong rapport with the student to make the transfer of their pen to your hand as easy as possible. From that point on, depending on your relationship with the student, you can either ask to borrow the pen until the next class or simply put it in your pocket. If the student asks about the pen, you should return the pen and say that you had forgotten to return it.
japanese penIf you do not know the student well enough to ask about borrowing the pen, you will need to use a distraction and take the pen. This is more difficult than it sounds, as many classrooms are small and devoid of distractions. In these cases, it may help to have another teacher enter the classroom and lead the student into the hallways to give them some flashcards, which would allow you enough time to take the pen and replace it with a fake. Other options for distracting the student involve popping balloons under the desk, or turning on a CD player located behind the student.

In the unlikely situation where you are caught, deny that you have the pen, and ask the student questions in English until they become flustered. Remember, in Japan you cannot be charged with a crime if you didn’t intend to perform a crime, so tell everyone that you are holding onto the pen for safety or because you are borrowing it.

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.

What Do I Do When a Student Hides Their Mouth Behind a Mask?

Face-to-face communication has been determined to be at least three times as effective as non-face-to-face communication, which may be one of the contributing factors as to why humans engage in such conversations on almost a daily basis. This degree of benefit is severely hampered when a student wears a facial mask.

Masks are worn in Japan to stop the spread of colds, flus, and airborne pathogens by completely covering the nose and mouth. However, by covering the mouth, the mouth becomes hidden and cannot be seen, thus removing the face-to-face communication benefits that help promote classroom learning.

Japanese Face MaskStudents expect to get the most value for their money, and this may only be accomplished with some clever thinking from the teacher. Although the student will continue to wear their mask, they can still express emotion and add important facial communication with the help of sheets of paper with images of mouths on them.

Drawing all mouth shapes by hand is the best option, but for teachers under deadlines, this may take away from other important preparation time. Time can be saved by printing the following characters with a 72 point font. (60 point font for children)

Emotion Mask

An emotion mask with "minor surprise" and "smile" expressions.

  • ) – smile
  • ( – frown
  • D – big smile
  • < - big frown
  • つ – biggest smile
  • く – biggest frown
  • | – apathy
  • / – confusion, disbelief, or skepticism
  • * – puckered lips, anger
  • . – light surprise
  • 。- minor surprise
  • o – big surprise
  • O – bigger surprise
  • ○ – biggest surprise
  • □ – maximum surprise, disbelief, or shock

Emotion Mask 2

A store-bought emotion mask.

After printing the characters, rotate them 90 degrees clock-wise, and affix double-sided tape to the rear of them so that they are able to stick to the student’s mask. During speaking activities, have the student choose the mouth shape that best reflects their current emotion, and then affix it to their mask. If the student wishes to change emotions, they may change the paper on their own.

If the student is often sick, and regularly wears a mask, consider printing a set of mouth emotion papers and giving them to the student as a gift, or even assigning construction of the mouth emotion papers as homework.

What Do I Do If I Accidentally Steal From a Student?

In Japan, there are many instances where the students have considerable wealth and choose to show their wealth through means of expensive watches, pens, pencil cases, and laptops. As teachers, one of the most important things to remember is not to steal from the student. However, there are situations where you may end up with the students items. If these situations arise, remember to never acknowledge ownership of said items, and always act as though ownership was never implied. This is a legal loophole in the Japanese justice system, where no crime can be committed if there is no ownership (ie. one cannot steal air)

After being discovered, always offer the item back to the student as a gift. If they accept the gift, it becomes their property and any ill-will disappears. If they decline the gift, you are legally allowed to have it and consider it your property.

One way of obtained student’s items that I’ve witnessed takes place during role-play activities. Tell the student that you wish to roleplay the concept of clarification over the phone, and point your chairs away from each other. This makes conversation more difficult as you are unable to see each other’s faces and body language. With the student facing the other way, their possessions often go missing.