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.

How Do I Teach Words of Latin Or Greek Origin?

Some students familiar with English gain their abilities through the workplace, bringing a wide range of vocabulary to the classroom. These words can be specialized to the point of being unusable, and corrections should be made to allow the student to accurately communicate with people outside of their industry.

About 12 years ago, we had a doctor who specialized in endoscopic medicine, and performed biopsies on cancerous tissue on a weekly basis. He was dismayed that when talking to native English speakers, he was unable to be understood. This was corrected by moving away from the Latin and Greek that his words were based off of, and converting them into English.

For the sake of clarity, endoscopic became “inside looking”, and biopsy became “living medical examination or inspection”. Many more people began to understand what he was talking about, and therefore held a higher opinion of him.

How Do I Teach Participal Adjectives?

Participial Adjectives confuse even the best English speakers, so it’s understandable that they are nearly incomprehensible for Japanese learners of English. As a teacher, I still have difficulty understanding the difference between the usage of “bored” and “boring”. A handy trick to remember is that adjectives ending with -ed often represent a feeling.

Additionally, when teaching the -ing forms it is best to avoid the verb meanings, as they confuse the student. A school that I once worked at had a teacher attempt to teach “boring” by using an auger on a piece of wood, which resulted in the student – a carpenter by trade – to associated “boring” with “exciting”.

When teaching the participal adjectives, teach them in pairs. The teacher performs an action that is represented by -ing, and the student explains their emotion in terms of the matching -ed form. For example, the teacher crawls under the desk while they have the student pretend to watch television. Maneuver your head between their legs and the table, and look up at them. The student should exclaim “I am surprised! This situation is surprising!”. Switch and repeat the exercise. For exciting/excited, have the student hold a balloon and dance while you clap. Avoid teaching pleasuring/pleasured.

Let the student know that not all adjectives follow this pattern. There are pairs such as scary/scared, comfortable/comforted, and delightful/delighted that should be learned separately.

How Do I Teach Children?

Teaching children is no simple task, and is even more complicated when teaching them in a foreign language. Not only do children have different needs than their adult counterparts, but also cry much more frequently than adults. As much as being chosen last or being laughed at by the teacher is enough to reduce the child to tears. Rather than placing the child in the Crybaby Corner and using them as an example of bad behavior, the teacher should realize the different needs and embrace them.

Children should be rewarded for good behavior with stickers, almonds, cashews, and gum. Children who have bad behavior should receive more stickers than the well behaved students to encourage them to be better.
At ages under 6, having winners and losers can be detrimental to the child’s self-esteem. Losers will clam-up and not want to participate, so it is a good idea to always have the teacher be the loser. That way, later in life they have reason to associate foreigners with failure. For children between the ages of 7 and 12, splitting up teams based on gender works well, as the natural hatred of the opposite sex burns brightly at this age. If there are uneven numbers of male and female students in the classroom, move the most effeminate boys to the girls team or butchy girls to the boys team accordingly.

After 13, hormones kick in and the students will not participate well in front of the opposite sex. Alternate having one sex sit in the hallway during the lesson to maximize teaching ability. If any student is too embarrassed to speak, find an embarrassing flaw about them and remind them that their English ability isn’t as bad as the flaw. They will realize that it isn’t what is in their mind that matters, but what can be visibly observed by others.
After 18 the children are no longer children, but in Japan the age of consent is 14. Plan accordingly.