Yesterday one of my high level students out of the blue told me she wanted to double her lessons from next month to 8 per month. Nothing speaks louder than when a student decides to do such a thing with absolutely no prompting from me. In case of this particular student, she has been studying English Conversation for 12 years and will soon graduate from high school. She really loves English and her pronunciation and ability show it every time she speaks. I always enjoy working with her as I can tell that she appreciates what I do for her. Yesterday, we covered an article from SHUUKAN ST (Japan Times) on a graffiti museum in Lisbon. The museum is an open-air venue where visitors can walk along cobblestone streets and admire some very artful graffiti. The article does bring up the controversy that some locals are feeling about the acceptance of graffiti as an art, but some of the paintings are truly amazing and a far cry from the stylized writing that is so prevalent in most graffiti. WAKE UP LISBON!
The article was packed with some great new vocabulary for my student and it allowed me to create many questions which, in turn, allowed her to answer using the new vocabulary. When we got to the phrase “counter-culture”, I asked her what she thought was a counter-culture in Japan. After thinking for a bit she said “Gal Culture”. Then she explained that now it is mainly more of a fashion statement but about 10-15 years ago it was much more. She explained that these girls who chose to dye their hair light blonde, get dark tans and wear 10-cm high heels, had some other “counter-culture” habits that truly ran against the grain of normal Japanese lifestyle. I will not go into the detail of what she explained but she really did find an excellent example of “counter-culture”.
I always look forward to lessons with these high level students as they are an inspiration and really show what can be achieved if a person decides to make the commitment to really dig in and work to master another language. It also gives us an opportunity to learn from these students some of the ways in which they have achieved their English speaking prowess. These students help us to keep focused on being inspirational for our students as well. It is fun to teach English in Japan, pure and simple!