My 6:00 p.m. Saturday lesson this week included two students. We worked on making requests and went through the normal lesson plan with no problems but when I asked them to think of and make requests on their own, they seemed to stumble. In some cases I give them a simple scenario such “you are at the airport and it seems that the flight has been delayed but no annoucement has been made” etc . but as you can imagine, some students still have a hard time understanding the situation when I tell them in English. It is times like this that it does benefit me to be able to speak Japanese. I give them the scenario in Japanese and then they usually are able to come up with a reasonably good request. Sometimes I also just give them a difficult request in Japanese and have them translate it. It is funny but my students are often surprised by how well I speak Japanese and this actually gives them more incentive to make more effort themselves to speak English. I tell them that I worked hard to learn Japanese many years ago and there is no substitute for hard work. Of course having learned Japanese while living in Japan and having a real need to use it everyday, I had a real advantage. You must always try to create the environment in which your students must use English to get what they need or want since this what they will face when they are overseas and suffering from a stomachache or other ailment. They’ll need to be able to explain their problem and request help. Make it real and let them work it out! Their struggle will lead to their success!