How Do I Teach Causative Form?

English has several words associated with causative form;

  • Make
  • Have
  • Let

Whereas Japanese only has one. The intricacies of English are like a Faberge egg, whereas Japanese is devoid of these like an ordinary ostrich egg. Teaching causative form is not easy, but it is quite possible.

For teaching “make“, the student must be removed from their comfort zone and put into a position where they will force you to do something, thus satisfying the requirement of “making” you do something.
At the beginning of class, write the word “make” on the board. Underline it once with red or black ink. Next, stand about 5 cm away from the seated student and slowly move towards them. They may try to move away, but the classrooms are only so big that they will eventually be cornered. Encourage them to use English to express their will. Once they ask you to move away from them, say “make me” and playfully take a fighting stance to let the student know that touching is acceptable. After they force you away from them, go to the board and introduce the past tense of “make” along with the sentence “You made me move away”.
This activity can be repeated by keeping the window on a cold day and the student making you close it, or by turning off the lights to the classroom and the student making you turn them on.

butlerFor teaching “have“, tell the student that you are a maid/butler, and you will clean their house. Ask them “what will you have me do, master?” Have the student respond with “I will have you _______”. Proper responses would be “cook a meal”, “chlorinate the pool”, “clean the bathroom”, “wash the sheets”, “mow the lawn”, etc.
If the student is having a difficult time coming up with ideas, suggest sentences to them in the form of “Will you have me ____?”
When finished, write the words “have” and “had” on the board next to “make” and “made”, and have the student create sentences for each.

For teaching “let“, ask the student about their childhood. Did they eat candy everyday for dinner? No? Their parents didn’t let them. Tell the student that their parents didn’t let them eat candy, and write “let” on the board and underline it with a soothing blue. The differences in the words “make”, “have”, and “let” will begin to form in the student’s mind.
Ask the student if their parents let them stay awake 24 hours, drink alcohol, enjoy the company of opposite sex friends, and choose their own clothing. Be clear about ages, otherwise the student may become confused.
Have the student practice “let” by asking questions about your boss. For a little fun, answer “no” to all of the students questions to earn some of their pity, which will make subsequent classes easier to teach.

If the student is still unclear on the differences between “make”, “have”, and “let”. Have them write 10 sentences for each to be checked at the next class. Make them type the homework, and let them submit it in an envelope.

Have a nice day.

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.

How Do I Convince My Student That “Sand” and “Sandwich” Are Not the Same Thing?

Due mainly to katakana being used to represent foreign loan-words, foreign words take on many extra syllables when represented in Japanese. Something like “personal computer”, which has 6 syllables, would become “pasonaru conpyuutaa”, which contains 7 syllables. 6 is a lot more comfortable than 7, but most Japanese enjoy , thus it would become the 3-syllable “pasocon”.

Oftentimes, “sandwich” (サンドイッチ) is abbreviated as “sand” (サンド), which has led to most students believing the two words to represent one item. Imagine an English speaker’s surprise upon hearing that their counterpart eats sand. The surprise would be great.

To break the student of the bad habit of expressing enjoyment concerning the consumption of sand, it is good to keep a small pouch of clean sand in the pocket of your suit, allowing for rapid access when the need arises. Fine, white sand works best for this demonstration. Sand may be steamed, microwaved, or baked at 200 degrees for 5 minutes to remove any bacteria.

sand

Sand

As the student begins to mention eating “sand”, reach into your suit to retrieve the pouch, and sprinkle a little on the table. Inquire as to whether the student wishes to eat the sand on the table. The answer will be “no”, to which you would respond “correct. I don’t want to eat sand. Repeat”, and have the student repeat the sentence. Coach the student to say “I want to eat a sandWICH”, placing emphasis on the “wich”.

Under no circumstances should the student be allowed to eat the table sand. It is not meant for consumption.

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”.