Recently I was teaching my student a lesson titled “Thank you for inviting me to your birthday”. As you could guess from this lesson title, it is about birthdays and inviting someone to a birthday.
The lesson was run at my based school. The full length of the lesson is about 65 minutes. I do Team-Teaching with the Japanese Teacher of English (JTE) for the first 30 minutes. The structure of the lesson was based on a student textbook. The first main proportion of it is a dialogue, followed by some pronunciation and English functions. The dialogue is between two characters, Emily and Kaito, where Emily was holding a birthday party and she had invited Kaito to come. Kaito did arrive late and had to apologize, but still managed to find an interesting gift for Emily, which was a sensu (a Japanese fan) with a dog printed on the fan. Am I boring you so far?
Well, towards the end of the class, I asked my students to create their own birthday card invitation. It was random and very out of the blue. I didn’t know what to expect but thought it would be fun. I told them what I expected to see on the card such as who you are inviting, a date and time for the party, some sort of design for the card, and include a RSVP by. What was intended to be a innocent quick and easy random exercise for the students was met with much surprise. I hadn’t expected it, but almost everyone had submitted their cards in. We are talking about a class of 41 students. It wasn’t that the cards were submitted but the quality of the cards are absolutely superb. I honestly didn’t have much hope that the students would be interested in doing such an activity; but what was handed to me was high quality handmade designed invitations.
I suspected that female students may put their hearts more into this exercise, but I also found that a good number of male students had created something very special as well. Prior to this, I have no idea how talented these kids are in drawing. The drawings were just fantastic. It wasn’t just myself who are surprised, but also the JTE. I sure have watched anime or read manga where it makes Japanese students come across as very talented when it comes to drawing because of the culture of animation in the country; but to really see it with your eyes is a whole new matter.
Although it has only been a few months into this job, I am truly loving every moment. My colleagues are great and the work atmosphere is wonderful. Most importantly, I feel very happy and rewarded to be working some of the smartest kids in my preference. There is still a huge learning curve to understanding Japanese students and how to best make the lesson more interesting and engaging for them; but I shall continue. My second school is horrendous because students dislike English; but nonetheless, where there’s a will, there a way .