As I'm teaching here, I'm having to try out new techniques to get the students interested in the lessons and learning. I decided this week to try out a new method of teaching vocabulary: Playing games. The week before, playing a game from the book proved to be pretty helpful on the review for the test, I figured playing a game this week couldn't hurt.
The game I chose is one familiar to many American schoolchildren - Hangman. You put blanks up on the board for letters, and the students have to guess the letters, and if they don't guess correctly, you fill in the figure of a little stick man on a cartoon gallows.
As I explained the concept, I saw comprehension dawn on my students' faces, followed by horror. The look said it all: "You mean, if we lose, that guys...dies!?"
I hadn't realized it before, but I guess the game is pretty grim. But then again, so are a lot of Western games - cowboys and indians, ring around the rosie (it's about the plague), cops and robbers, Risk, Red Rover. A lot of our games are violent and frankly a bit scary when you step back and think about it.
I was going to do a whole post comparing Japanese and Western attitudes toward violence, but I frankly don't know enough about Japanese culture yet to make an informed decision. All I have is the reaction of my students in the class, and a funny story. I wish I could have captured their faces on camera, because it was hilarious and embarrassing at the same time.
Once the game got underway, however, the students were learning and participating. When I offered them the chance to be "the hangman" - ie, the one writing on the board - the student who had been most horrified was one of the first to volunteer.
It's amazing how we can adjust to anything.
I'm sure I'll do a more coherent blog post later this weekend. Thanks for reading.