Lesson 2-1 The First lesson - Expressing emotions and communication with gestures...

May 22 2009 0 Comments by The ENB

We are are off to start a new chapter in Eigo Notebook this week.
Now remember this is our fourth lesson to date and from what I understand MEXT Japan (Ministry of Education) has advised that there should be 35 lessons allotted for the Elementary School English Program (International Studies) during the course of one school year. As you may know, the subject has not become compulsory yet, but many Boards of Education that are involved in the pilot programs since April, 2009 (the start of the school year), have adopted the Eigo Note for their own program such as the Board of Education in the city where I work.

Eigo Note Book 1 Page 10 Let's Listen Quiz

Well, back to the lesson. As it reads in the teacher’s book, we will “promote the student’s positive attitude to communicate by experiencing non-verbal communication.” I think what they mean here is to show an example of non-verbal communication such as gestures and body language and the important role they play in English communication or in any other language for that matter.

The lesson starts out simply enough with a four item quiz on feelings based on four simple pictures of facial expressions. It was quite easy enough, but there are two points I’d like to mention here.

One is we had actually studied 7 of basic feelings in English Class the year before (Have I mentioned I have been working for the same board of education for over six years now?) Well, that brings me to my next point. In working with the Eigo Notebook, one has to remember it is still a textbook, and that sometimes studying English with a textbook can get pretty dry and boring for students. You can change that by adding supplemental activities.

Now, this all depends on your lesson flow because timing is everything in the Elementary School classroom in Japan. The type of flow as in quickly creating a dialogue between the students and I to introduce the next point of the lesson; after the quiz.

Checking the answers, I asked the kids if they had gotten a perfect score. Many said yes, so I wanted to ask them, "Why?" The answer I was looking for was that there were two hints in two of the four pictures. The pictures of happy and fine looked almost similar, but for hungry there is a dream bubble of a “rice ball” or “onigiri”and for sleepy you can see it clearly in the face and in the yawning of the voice of the audio you can clearly recognize he is sleepy. Yet, the students in most of my classes answered, “We studied this last year,”or“Now I’m used to it, right?” Not really what I was looking for, so I had to tell them to think more deeply about it, and don’t think about the actual language of it. Then, those answers I was looking for popped out and I was able to connect it with a little talk about the importance of gestures (pronounced 'JESHCHA'' in katakana English, so we repaired that first) and vocal hints which in Japanese many say as “hatsuon.”

So, I gave the kids an example of how the world would be without gestures.

I drew a big O vs. X in the middle on the board.

Then, I told the students the O represents a world with gestures and the X represents a world with no gestures (with translation help from the homeroom teacher, of course). I then asked the students to listen carefully but I think the big O and X got their attention. Then, the homeroom teacher would ask me “How are you?” to which I would reply with a poker face, no smiling, and without gestures, “I’m happy.” We would go through all the four items, happy, hungry, sleepy, and fine, (no gestures) and by the time we finished you could really hear many comments from the kids in Japanese such as “That sounds really dry, doesn’t it?” or “That looks kind of scary,”(which is why I never my own picture on this site...) or “That looks a bit weird!” Well, the question of which world is better will support itself by the time you show the kids the other side; a world with gestures. We did the whole routine again, this time with gestures.

They got the picture and understood soon enough. Now here’s a chance to get involved in a little more dialogue with the kids (but I didn’t spend too much time on it since I still wanted to practice the target language with the kids.) I then asked the kids which world is better (the big O or the big X)? A few jokesters would say the big X, but the idea was clear of course, the big O is better. Then, I asked the kids “Why?”

Well, in just a couple of minutes they can come up with 3-5 reasonable answers. I think the best example was one connected to sign-language in an easy to understand way, and that even those with a handicap like the hearing impaired will be able to understand through gestures; nice kids.

I did also point out that gestures are universal and you can understand them even if you don’t know the language itself.

For this Eigo Note lesson I gave this next example to the kids directly after.

A French example of “I’m hungry” with no gestures was given (luckily no one in my elementary school English classes can speak French because mine must be terrible by the way). They could not really guess the meaning, but when I gave them the same example with a “hungry” gesture they could understand quickly and very clearly. You could really hear the “ooh's” and “aahs” after this example. I told them gestures are very convenient especially while traveling the world.

The above timeframe for only one point of discussion in an Eigo Note lesson or any English lesson may seem to take too long but actually it can just take a few minutes. From the start of the quiz to the end of my O vs. X demonstration and discussion including a lot of repeating practice time while we checked our answers and reviewed them again after the demonstration took about 8-10 minutes. You've got to get the HRT with you into the flow as well to make it work. So, it may be a good idea to discuss it together beforehand and get them to understand the main point clearly.

Directly after the demonstration, to liven things up a little more, we reviewed the four flash cards again but with a request from me for the students to get the gestures going really well in preparation for a mini-game of “Hannin Sagasu.”

I wanted to get the kids more excited about doing gestures so this a really good and fun English teaching game for such a purpose. Basically, “hannin” means thief or bad-guy, and “sagasu” means to search for. So, there is a person who will play a policeman who will try to find who the leader of the gesture making is, the “hannin.”The other students must follow and do the same gestures as the leader (hannin) without giving away his or her name and without staring too much at the leader either. The person who plays the policeman has to first wait outside while the gesture leader is chosen. After, the leader is chosen the students in the classroom are started off on a gesture by the ALT or HRT (Home Room Teacher) to get things going.

The leader then takes over changing the gestures while the policeman comes in and tries to find who the leader is. You can then make the students chant out loud the appropriate target language as each gesture changes and coax the leader into keeping a good pace of changing the gestures. Praise or flatter the leader to keep him or her going strong.

Feelings Flashcards on the Blackboard

(The Teachers Book does not really call for this type of game but it does call for the discussion on gestures and after a few gesture games. However, we did one of the gesture games as a group interview game after the song, the “Let’s Sing” portion, and the gesture game with the teacher as a review or recap at the end of the lesson.)

So, next on my agenda was the song. Actually, this "Hello" song can be found on another CD and we had already sung it more than three years ago. It has a very catchy tune, but the Eigo Note version has a different melody and once again a “Gets!” beat at the end. I asked the kids that even though they have never heard this new version before if they could catch the timing of the “Gets!” pose. Sure enough, it proved to be fun and I’m glad they enjoyed it. We actually played the song over and over again 4 or 5 times in most classes.

Next on the Eigo Note agenda, was our group interview and here is how I did the group interview. Since, “gestures” is the Eigo Notebook theme for this chapter, we decided to include using gestures in the interview but with a little twist. At first, the students are given “secret” cards with a picture of the feeling item on them. My classes are quite strong so we were able to add “I’m OK,” “I’m sad,” and “I’m tired.” That’s seven cards in total and seven gestures to practice prior to the interview. Now, here’s the kicker. It’s a basic person A and B conversation with person A asking “How are you?” and person B responding with his or her “secret” card but this time without the gesture. One of my home room teachers said, “Do you mean with a Poker-face?” Exactly! It’s up to person A to mime the gesture back to person B as in confirming the answer. Person B then says “Yes” “No” or “OK” based on A’s assumption of the correct gesture. If person A has forgotten the appropriate gesture, then B says the feeling again calmly. Person A can go through as many gestures as he or she likes until being successful. The pair then alternate their roles, complete the skit and exchange their secret feeling cards and search for a new partner.

It may sometimes be a good idea to end an Eigo Notebook lesson with a quick game so we played a little dash-running game with all the students lined up at the back of the classroom. With each student holding their secret card they must shout “How are you?” I would give a random answer and those students holding that card would all dash, carefully of course, to the front to try get the only one ticket per group which can later be claimed for a prize. Then, they would sit back at their desks since there was only time for one turn for each feeling card. Seven turns equals seven prizes. The prize was very simple this time, just a cartoon signature of mine on the back of the Eigo Note book with a little bird drawing (a mini “m”) near the seagulls. The students asked me what the little bird was for and I asked them in return, “How many birds can you get signed by me by the end of the year?”

(On the back of the “Eigo Note 2” Textbook I will be signing mini-stars for the same purpose.)

Please be sure to check out my Eigo Note Blog for Grade 6 and my experience in teaching English with the Eigo Note 2 Textbook.

Stay tuned for my upcoming Eigo Note Book 1 Unit 2 Lesson 2... blog post.


Book 1 Archives

About the author

The ENB writes for eigonoteblog.com whenever possible. The ENB's favorite school lunch is curry and rice. ( Short and spicy since we don't want to annoy anyone ;D )

Leave a Reply