I made a new game for the basic group this week, called “TV Game Show,” which I started describing in a previous blog. How it works is that I’m the TV Game Show Host, and I pick a category like jobs, Disney characters or Singers. Next, I whisper a person from that category into each players’ ear. They will take on this identity during the game, but they must keep it a secret from the other players. The game begins by me asking the same question to each player, which they answer as their identity. For example, if the category is Disney, I might ask, “are you a person or an animal?” “What clothing do you wear?” “Who are your friends?” “Where do you live?” After each round, I give students an opportunity to guess the identity of the other players. The goal of the game is to guess other people’s identity before they guess yours.
I noticed a few things as I played this game, for example the category “jobs” was very difficult for the students. They had a much easier time with Disney characters and singers, especially since I gave them singers they were familiar with like Ariana Grande, Twice and Black Pink. If I played this game again, I would not use the “jobs” category. Something else I noticed was that, originally, I penalized students for a wrong guess because I didn’t want students to keep throwing out random guesses until they figured out who their peers were. To avoid that, if a student guessed wrong, they had to answer two questions the next round. One round, after asking who wanted to guess, one students said, “I want to guess, but I’m afraid of being wrong! I don’t want to answer two questions.” This changed my perspective, and explained why students weren’t making any guesses. After she said that, I changed the rule where you could make multiple guesses without a penalty, which helped the game and took some pressure off. This relates to the last article, “Best Practices for Teaching the Whole Adult ESL Learner” because it allowed my students to capitalize on their experience. They know about K-pop bands and popular singers, so this game allowed them to speak about something they were comfortable about. Since I was unfamiliar with this music, I researched ahead of time, by listening to a few albums by the K-pop bands to become familiar with what they listen to (my junior high school students told me everything to listen to).
I have recently been having a hard time with students who really struggle in the chat room. I don’t know what to do with them. Sometimes when I ask a student a question, they will pause for about fifteen seconds, make a few sounds to show they’re thinking, think some more, begin a sentence then stop, etc. I don’t know if I should wait and give them a chance to answer or if that is making them extremely nervous and it would be better to skip over them and come back to them later. I don’t want to skip over people because they come to the chatroom to learn, but also I don’t want to scare people into never coming back. My students here are slow to answer questions to begin with; unlike American students who often begin answering the question before they have thought about their answer, students here think about what they want to say and how they want to say it before speaking. The rest of the people in the group are almost always patient, and wait in silence for the person speaking to collect their thoughts and speak. After talking to my professor from IWU, she told me that this is a common problem for teachers and that I need to go on my gut instinct. If the students seems to be really nervous, maybe skip over them and come back, otherwise allow them time to think and speak. My advisor also recommended partner work, which I already do very often because it takes the pressure off the student; instead of talking to a whole group, they are only talking to one other person, so it is lower stakes if they make a mistake.
My article for this week was called “12 Ways to Support ESL Students in the Mainstream Classroom.” Since I’m in a language building and not a mainstream classroom, this didn’t all apply to me, but it was good information nonetheless. It offered suggestions like “make it visual,” “group work,” “research the cultural backgrounds of students,” “teach the students to take themselves less seriously,” and “the teacher must always take the students seriously.” I think I have already been doing all these things, and it offered good ideas for ESL students in a classroom like, “pre-teach” where you send students information like powerpoints and videos early so they have a chance to read them ahead of time, “honor the silent period,” which some students have where they hardly speak at all for fear of making a mistake at the beginning and “beware of culturally unique vocab” like “juke box” or “clothing rack.”
Exploration: Odaiba Oedo Onsen Monogatari
Onsens. Are. The. Best. They are huge public baths with different pools for hot water, lukewarm water, cold water, and water with different healing minerals. Sometimes you can go in an outdoor bath, and depending on the onsen it can be a full spa experience with restaurants, massages, and everything relaxing. We went to one other onsen near Kamakura, but this one was like an onsen theme park.
For about $25, you entered the onsen, and you could pick which yukata (robe) you wanted to wear (there were six options for men and women each). Everyone had to wear a yukata. Next, you went into the locker room and changed into your yukata and took off your shoes. When you locked your locker, the key was a bracelet that you wore around your wrist so you wouldn’t lose it. When you moved out of the locker room, you reached onsen paradise! It was like a small city with decorations, restaurants, games, ice cream, wine, beer, palm reading, arcades, massages… anything that is fun and relaxing, they had. And since all your possessions were kept in your locker, you scanned the barcode on your key bracelet to pay for anything you wanted and then it was charged to your account at the end. It was truly my happy place.
After some sparkling wine, we split up into our onsens (one for men and one for women). Here, you had another room to lock up your yukata and grab a towel, because you go all natural in the onsen. You must shower before entering the bath, but afterward, you can stay in the baths as long as you want, change baths, go back out to buy more snacks or drinks and repeat. I could have spent a whole week there. I had everything I needed.
Exploration: Sagamihara campus
It was beautiful, spacious, and quiet. Aoyama Gakuin has two campuses, but I stay at the Shibuya campus, so Dareana and Caleb took me to see the other one. It was a trek to get there, about and hour and a half on the train, but the campus was very spread out compared to the Shibuya campus. There was grass, flowers planted in certain areas, a full organ in the chapel, a two-floor cafeteria and a stream with a waterfall and a statue!!
New friends! Dareana met Juka and Miyu at the Sagamihara campus, and we were able to spend the day with them on Sunday. They were so kind and we were able to see a lot together in Yokohama. Yokohama is a port town, and it was amazing to overlook Tokyo Bay. We got to the Ramen Cup Museum right as it closed, so we were not able to do that, but we were able to visit the historic twin red brick buildings. These buildings were originally warehouses built in 1911 and 1913, but are now non-operational and have been reclaimed into becoming a shopping mall with restaurants.
After shopping, we passes an amusement park on our way to dinner, right between the Red Brick Buildings and the train station. There was a huge ferris wheel and a few rollercoasters, which the others rode while I waited in safety and comfort on the ground.
After an all-American dinner at Shake Shack, our friends wanted to take a picture in the photo-booths that alter your appearance to make you look extra-cute (see first photo). It was only about four dollars to take five photos and edit them with stickers, glitter and filters.