Although the lessons are the core of what we do at Smith’s School of English, we also like to give our students other chances to let the English they are learning really “live”. So we often have special events and invite our students, their families and friends. Japan has so many great attractions that can be perfect venues for our events. As Edward explained in his post about live music, there are some great places in Japan to enjoy.
I have been thinking about some ideas for future events. These might include an overnight bus trip to Disney Resort in Tokyo-Odaiba, a ride down the Hozu river in Arashiyama, another trip to Universal Studios Japan, an Octoberfest at a German restaurant in Kobe during which the students can speak a lot of English. The possibilities are nearly endless. But the main idea is to give the students a chance to meet other students who are of like mind regarding the learning and use of English. The hope is that they will really take the opportunity to use English amongst themselves for the real purpose of communication. To get the most out of such events, Japanese students need to pretend for a time that they are not Japanese and really need to speak English to communicate. Outside or even inside Japan, such a real need arises when Japanese students meet Korean or Chinese people and try to speak with them. The “necessity” to use English in such cases is real and students will normally rise to the occasion. For some reason, however, when Japanese students of English come together they start speaking Japanese right away and do not get the full benefit of practicing English. It may seem unnatural for them but it is a golden opportunity and often there are not enough native speakers such as teachers to pair up with the students to give them the amount of practice that they need.
So I want to ask our students to really try to get out there at the events we hold and use English with other students. The real reward to be gained through such experiences is the ability to use English much better.
I want them to tell a story at the next lesson that may go something like the following:
Last weekend I attended a joint barbecue with many other students of the Smith’s School at a beautiful park in Osaka. The teachers prepared a lot of English games for us and we enjoyed eating delicious barbecued foods and sipping cool drinks. But most of all we enjoyed talking to each other IN ENGLISH. For a time I thought that I and my fellow students were not Japanese, but instead were from many other countries and English was the common language that we needed to communicate. Although it was a little unnatural at first, I now think it was a great experience! I am looking forward to the next event and the chance to use English with other Japanese students again. What a great opportunity!
Well, I am crossing my fingers and hoping that one of my students takes this advice to heart. Until next time, enjoy your life in Japan. It is truly splendid.
Al Bartle (Smith’s School of English -Okamoto)