English language school in the heart of the Japanese Alps, and English language learners sharing their experiences online. Teachers post regular items about teaching, learning tools, events in the school, their day to day experiences living & working in a foreign country. Students post on whatever takes their fancy - book reports, festivals in home towns, postcards from business trips etc. A little Brit of England in the guts of Japan!
We all know that making mistakes is part of the
learning process when learning a new skill, learning a language is no
exception. However in most cases it is extremely difficult to get Japanese
students into this mind-set, the need to be coherent and not stick out as “the nail
that sticks out gets hammered down”. Recognising the issue is always to first
step to resolving it, so we focus on making a learning friendly environment
where making mistakes is not frowned upon but in fact encouraged, it’s much
more fun having a go and making a mistake.
Fire-fighter to the rescue
A really nice activity that encourages the use
of new language is the game “Silly sentences”. The main focus here is not to reproduce
or revise previous language patterns, but instead targeting syntax without the
need of being barraged by a set of grammar rules. The cards are colour coded
into nouns/adjectives/prepositions etc, and it’s up to the students to work out
how to combine them in the correct order. The game cards also only piece
together if they are in the correct order to ensure that the language being
created is grammatically correct.
Don't stay in this house
So the end product is solely dependant on the
student, achieved through cognitive thinking with a bit of trial and error mixed
in. It’s a fun way of building confidence and exposing students to language
they would not normally encounter. It’s not everyday you hear “the green scary
baby ate the dinosaur”.