Monday, May 18, 2015

English Lesson Plan - Use it or Lose it!

I often receive complements for my fun and interactive English lessons. Therefore, I am here to share some lessons plans with you. Remember, English in elementary is meant to be fun and a way to spark interest. Nevertheless, I like to challenge my students by making the material a bit harder. Take a look and feel free to use any activity for your own lessons! If you have any questions, let me know by commenting below!

  • ごれい:これから英語で遊ぼうを始めます。よろしくおねがいします
    • (Let's start English Playtime. Regard us favorably)
  • あいさつ (Greeting): Good morning or good afternoon
  • If You're Happy and You Know It (regular tempo and fast)
  • Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes (regular tempo but speed up until ridiculously fast)
  • Days of the week practice
    • Days of the week marching game: Have the kids line up behind you and march while reviewing the days of the week. When you yell out "Stop!", they have to freeze. If they move, they are out. It's similar to Daruma-san Ga Koronda or our Red Light, Green Light.
  • Today's Lesson: Colors
    • Practice the name of the colors
    • Play "Hot Potato" with colors.
      • The students pass a ball around while music is playing. Whoever is holding the ball when the music stops is out. However, in order to pass the ball you need to say a color in English. You are also out if you say the word in Japanese, repeat a color over and over, or repeat the color of the previous person.
    • Review colors once more
  • ごれい:これから英語で遊ぼうを終わります。ありがとうございました。
  • Rock, Paper, Scissors with them and quickly leave before they get touchy.

4th Grade

Saturday and Sunday as well

  • ごれい: (Class leader chants and everyone repeats): Pay attention! ::clap,clap clap::  Lets start English class!
  • あいさつ (Greeting): Good morning or good afternoon
  • Days of the week Review, regular, fast, super fast, and slow motion
  • Months of the year - regular, fast, super fast, and slow motion
  • Let's count: 1-50
  • How's the weather? It's ~
  • How are you? I'm ~
  • Today's lesson: ABCs
    • Pronunciation
      • Caution: B and V; G, J, and Z; R, L, and O
    • ABC Song practice
    • ZYX Song practice (yes, we sing it backwards too)
    • ABC Song Mini Game
      • Split the class into two teams and have them form a choir at diffent ends of the class room. See who can sing the loudest. The losing team has to sing the song again.
    • A-Z line up game
      • You can split the class into teams or just have the entire class participate. Time to see how long it takes them to arrange a set of mixed alphebet cards on the board.
      • Right now, I have the whole class participate and they are competing with other grades.
  • ごれい: (Class leader chants and everyone repeats): Pay attention! ::clap,clap clap::  Lets finish English class!
  • Together: Thank you! See you soon! Goodbye: Rock, Paper Scissors, 1, 2, 3!
6th Grade

Hi Friends! Textbook

  • ごれい: (Class leader chants and everyone repeats): Pay attention! ::clap,clap clap::  Lets start English class!
  • あいさつ (Greeting): Good morning or good afternoon
  • Days of the week - regular speed, fast, super fast and slow motion
  • Months of the year - regular speed, fast, super fast and slow motion
  • Let's count: 1-100
  • How's the weather? It's ~
  • How are you? I'm ~
  • Today's Lesson: Alphabet (lowercase)
    • ABC Writing Drill: They have three minutes to practice writing the alphabet. Then, they have two minutes to do it by memory on a seperate page.
      • Ex: Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee...etc.
    • A-Z Line Up Game (timed competition between 3rd - 6th grade)
    • Z-A Line Up Game
    • Hi Friends! p. 4 Activity: 見たことあるアルファベットの表示を書き写そう。(Copy English signs that you have seen)
      • Ex: Stop, Koban/Police, open, etc.
      • Students then need to tell you what they found, spell it and give you the meaning in Japanese.
      • I always get a funny reaction when I have them give me the meaning of "taxi." Because in Japanese, it's "taxi."
  • ごれい: (Class leader chants and everyone repeats): Pay attention! ::clap,clap clap::  Lets finish English class!
  • Together: Thank you! See you soon! Goodbye: Rock, Paper Scissors, 1, 2, 3!
I advise anyone to set some time aside in order to make a successful lesson plan. Elementary is fun, but children who are bored are not. Have the students say the flashcards, quiz them individually, or have them quiz eachother. Have they sung the ABC song until their throats bleed? Now, have them sing it while facing the back of the room. Also, set rules to every game! You'll be surprised that the children will call each other out when someone has broken a rule - ruthless!
Since it's summer time, give the kids a two minute water break if you are doing any physical English activities. This is especially true for the kindergarteners, so take into account the heat and/or lack of A.C.
Last, ask your B.O.E or school for a planner so that you know what lessons were taught the previous class. You can also purchase a regular day planner as well. The idea is to be organized.
My planner! Isn't it cute?
Good luck!


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Bangkok without a Wolfpack

How did I get to Bangkok? I think it was a rental car, or was it a bus? Wait, that's right! It was an 8-hour train ride!

I arrived at the train station, located the border to Cambodia and Thailand, way earlier than expected. The ticket booths were closed until an hour before the train's departure, so I found a seat on the platform and and took in my surroundings. At first glance, the gaudy portrait of Thailand's king reminded me of  the Avatar: Legend of Korra. Geekdom aside, it seemed a lot different than Vietnam and more modern than Cambodia. When the train arrived, a long line formed at the ticket booth, but I made eye contact with another foreigner - an Austrian, maybe - who asked me from afar, how many tickets I needed. What a sweetheart! He bought my ticket and I reimbursed him the money afterwards.
I boarded the train, along with another foreigner from the states, and endured the slow, hot train ride into Bangkok. My glamorous hotel was located in the Chinatown, an upscale district of Bangkok. I couldn't enjoy the hotel for long because I suffered an emotion breakdown over my lost prescription glasses. It sounds silly, but I was mentally and emotionally exhausted and losing my glasses was just another expense/worry that I could not afford at the moment. What's worse is that I felt horrible for stressing over a pair of glasses when I just witness immense poverty in Cambodia! My phone would not connect to the WiFi and had no way to reach my mom or best friends for comfort, so I threw my cellphone across the room, which thankfully didn't break, and escaped to the shower to calm down.
The next day, I did some retail therapy at Chatucak Market to buy souvenirs and clothes. The market was large and hectic but the small stores were beautifully operated. I had a really nice time checking out all the trinkets and buying meaningful items for my friends and family. There were also small booth for massages where I received the best foot massage of my life. Thank  you Thailand for perfecting retail therapy! Seriously, thanks!

The next few days I explored every major temple in Bangkok. I also scheduled a tour that included a visit to the Bridge of the River Kwai and the famed Tiger Temple. The tour also included a visit to a nearby waterfall, a short raft cruise, and elephant riding! The tour was amazing but stressful. Everyone was given stickers that indicated their tour and we would switch vans constantly and end up with different people, but I guess that method worked for them.

The one thing that drove me insane were the shady tuk tuk drivers. Bless them, but you would ask them to take to you one place, but they would try to reroute to you visit another place that was "on the way" so that they can receive gas vouchers. You didn't have to buy anything, but you were pressured since you walked into a store with everyone staring at you. The only time it worked out is when I was taken to a jewelry store. Know your customer. There, I bought a tiny elephant necklace. My advice: unless that place is beneficial to you, like you actually want a tailored suit or outfit, get out and find another tuk tuk.

 The last night of the trip, I had a soup that caused a terrible bout of food sickness. It took all my strength to make it to the airport the following morning. I sat in the terminal texting my mom about everything that occurred on the trip. I couldn't tell her beforehand because I knew she would die. I put on a brave face until I reached Naha Airport (Okinawa). There, the customs security opened all of my bags while ask rude and personal questions. I guess a girl can't travel alone? I got extremely miffed when they began searching every pocket of my folded pants for drugs. My underwear was also out in the open for everyone to see, but I was paralyzed with the sensation to vomit. They went so far as to open all of my over-the-counter medicines and finger through the pills. Luckily, they didn't get too far with the ibuprofen because I had prescription Xanax pills hidden in the bottom.

Once I was cleared, I met with my friend who drove me back to Ginoza. Once home, I walked straight to the bathroom and vomited. めんそーれ!

This trip's blog post has taken me too long to write for obvious reasons. Who wants to remember a trip that was overshadowed with heartbreak? I did my best to make the most of the three counties but let's get real, I could not enjoy this trip. I traveled with my ex-boyfriend for the remainder of this trip because I didn't want to miss out on the opportunity to visit these beautiful countries. My only other option was to return to Okinawa and that was not going to fly with the future me. There were too many moments that I thought "wow, (insert place/temple) is beautiful" only to have that thought ruined by his presence. I destroyed my self worth by relying on his pity direction, which is why I had later prove that I was a boss-ass bitch by planning a trip to Hong Kong and (bungee) jumping off of Macau Tower.

On the flip side, so much good came out of this: I realized that I am strong person; I received so many praises on how well I handled the situation; and, this is a loaded statement, but I am no longer held back.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Turn Down for (Angkor) Wat?

I wish I could tell  you that leaving Vietnam was a piece of cake, but it wasn't.
I woke up at dawn to await the bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap, Cambodia. The estimated time of arrival was around 12 hours, but there must have been a x2 somewhere in the paperwork because it took forever. Our first stop was at the border where our bus conductor haggled with immigration to stamp our passports. I am not kidding! He haggled! There were bills placed in between every passport to "encourage" the immigration officer. The only problems was that there were hundreds of monetarily stuffed passports. It looked like a flee market or Forever 21 during a good sale - a nightmare! I found a pillar in the middle of the room where I sat and leaned against it FOR THREE HOURS.

Once my passport was stamped, I queued at Cambodia's orderly and efficient immigration office and strolled into Cambodia. Go Cambodia!

The bus ride up to Siem Reap was cold, bumpy and long, but the bus driver, who had an affinity for Rowan Atkinson, played the movies Rat Race, Mr. Bean's Holiday, Johnny English and Keeping Mum.
We arrived in Siem Reap at the unGodly hours of the night, where I checked into my hotel and woke up the next morning to tour Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is a  large, beautiful yet crowded temple complex with absolutely breathtaking sites. I feel in love with the wall carvings and Buddha-faced stone gates. Take a look!

Angkor Wat Advice:
  1. Tour the complex for at least three days. 
  2. Ladies, dress modestly. Some places will not allow women to enter if they are wearing shorts or tank tops. Sorry!
  3. Rent a bike. You can also rent a tuk tuk driver for a day, but I saw many tourist stranded after 5pm. Don't let that be you!
  4. Eat all the food! The food is great and cheap! Plus, their menus are in English!
  5. Take plenty of pictures. Now is not the time to be modest with your selfie stick. It's an amazing site!

Despite my short time in Cambodia, I found its people very welcoming and hospitable. As a poorer nation, Cambodian food is cheap (and good!), but their preference towards the U.S. Dollar bothered me a bit because they become visibly upset when you pay in their currency, the Cambodian Riel. I almost had it out with an inexperienced receptionist at the hotel's spa who rudely requested that I pay in U.S. Dollar. Yes, I am foreign and sure, I'm an American but [Linda] honey, I get paid in a fictional currency known as the Japanese Yen.** It's either Riel or Monopoly money.

*Thanks you Xavier for the title of this post  ;)
** The exchange rate is killing me! 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Okinawa Is and Isn't Japan

C. X. Z recently asked, "Do you know how JET teaching in Okinawa culturally differs from teaching on the mainland?"

What a great question! I can't speak for all of Okinawa, but my town rents land to the U.S. military and uses the money to advance education. For example, the students in Ginoza do not pay for school lunches and school supplies. All three of my elementary schools are equipped with touch-screen televisions with an accompanying laptop. The teachers are also provided a laptop for the teachers' office - that's two laptops per teacher! At first, I was given the shittest computers available - ones that still had floppy drives - but my they have been updated as well. Woot! My schools are always renovating and one of the schools now solely runs on solar and wind power! My town also provides a JET for elementary (me!), middle and high school.

As far as JET teaching, it's almost identical to my Mainland JET friends, but I have more resources. Okinawa is also more laid back, so I can get away with a more casual dress code - like ripped jeans or brightly colored lipstick. I've also been told that Okinawan children are more shy than their Mainland counterparts, but I'm not sure this is true.

Culturally, Okinawa is very different. Okinawa has its only accent (it's fast and a bit choppy - like Chinese), dialect, and language called uchinaguchi. For example, koma'inu, the guardian lion-dogs, are known as shiisaa in Okinawa. Having a bad day? Well,「 なんくるないさー」or "don't worry, be happy!" Just don't ever call it Ryukyu-ben or "Ryukyu dialect," it pisses off the Unchinanchuu or "Okinawans."

There is also Okinawa Time (lit. 沖縄タイム), which means that you can be late for everything - except work. Even then, my coworkers will happily sip coffee in the staff room even though the bell has rung for class.

Another interest thing about Okinawa is the use of first names. Teachers and students call each other by their first names! So weird right?! This is an Okinawa-exclusive custom! The only time last names are used is via request - mostly teachers or persons from the mainland - or if their first name is too long/difficult to pronounce. Okinawa also has their own holidays, like 慰霊の日 or Remembrance Day (Battle of Okinawa), and follow some cultural traditions similar to China. For example in March, Okinawa has shiimii where families will visit their ancestors tombs to clean, drink, and have a mini reunion.

You know how in Japan only a select few can play the shamisen, perform kabuki, do the tea ceremony, or make ikebana? In Okinawa everyone and their mothers plays the sanshin, dance and sing traditional folk songs, and perform eisa. Seriously, everyone! My students play the sanshin. My coworkers play the sanshin. Hell, even I play the sanshin (no joke).
In short, Okinawans are as similar to mainland Japanese as Hawaiians are to New Yorkers. Get the picture? 
I wasn't kidding about playing the sanshin
Oh, and their kimonos are different as well

If anyone has any questions they'd like me to answer, just let me know