No You May Not

Sadly, one of the more complicated phrases the munchkins learned in the after school English program this semester.

The biggest complaint stemmed from the fact that, after the first two weeks, we started assigning seating according to our own nefarious purpose – to keep kids sitting next to each other from engaging in all out warfare. We weren’t perfect (seating S and Tin Tin together is a mistake not easily forgotten) but we thought we had things fairly well settled.

The kids rarely agreed and I usually spent the first five minutes after they arrived stating “No, you may not” ad nauseum until they gave in.

A typical day consisted of them coming in around 4:20 and spending ten minutes or so running in and out of the classroom fetching whatever they had forgotten, going to the bathroom, or visiting friends participating in other activities. Around 4:30, we had them wrestled into their seats, did the roll call (one kid, Y, consistently replied with ‘I’m hungry’ rather than ‘here’), and appointed the Teacher’s Assistant (technically, the Teacher’s Assistant’s Assistant).

From there we moved onto the warm-up activity, which alternately consisted of practicing a phrase they already knew, like ‘what’s your name?’, or singing a song, my personal favorite and the apparent bane of their existence. We managed to get through Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes;  The Itsy Bitsy Spider; and  Jingle Bells. The Twelve Days of Christmas defeated them to a man,  however.

After warm-up, we’d review or introduce whatever vocabulary they were going to need for the day’s activity.

This is where the kids usually shone – they hated repeating the words and moaned bitterly, but they could clearly remember the pronunciations and meanings weeks later. On this particular day, we were going over Christmas themed words and one kid shocked all three of us TAs by answering my question of “Does anybody know what an ‘ornament’ is?” with a well-detailed explanation in Japanese. Shocked, mostly because the typical response to a question in English was a) dead silence or b) shouts that they didn’t understand.

After going over the vocab, we usually moved onto a craft activity or game that used the words they had just learned. On Tuesday, my last day, we did a Christmas-themed crossword puzzle and a Christmas memory game.

Finally, we wrap up with a book, though this is the first thing to get dropped if we run out of time. On Tuesday, I read the Night Before Christmas, which was way too advanced and read way too fast for them. I really wanted them to experience hearing it though and after reading through it, we went back and explained the story in Japanese. The same kid as before revealed that he knew the the names of all eight reindeer, which even I can’t remember.

Technically, I’m not supposed to post pictures of the kids here, but in this one they’re all looking away from the camera (for once), so hopefully it’s okay. Miyake, another TA, is sitting next to me, ready to explain in Japanese. Her English is very good, but even she had a hard time understanding the story before I explained some of the vocab.

That’s all for now, this is probably my last post while in Japan. I have to get my stuff together for my 30 hour trip home that starts Saturday morning. Wheeee!



Filed under japan

3 responses to “No You May Not

  1. Sus

    The picture in my head of you teaching Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes to a group of small Japanese persons will keep me chuckling all night, especially since I just did it with kindies at GF. That was confusing enough.

  2. alicia

    Just out of curiosity, what words were really hard for them to understand? “Sugarplums” I can see (I don’t even know what they are, except that it’s some sort of candy), but I can’t think of any other weird words at the moment. “Saint Nicholas” maybe…

  3. Mom

    Always loved that Head Shoulders Knees and Toes song. Barbara Roohr-Karas taught it to me when she first started teaching Kindergarden. I imagine you’re traveling to the airport about now. See you soon! Mom

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