By Amanda Horton, Shinjo, Yamagata Ken
I teach Senior High Schools and was given a whole lesson for my self-intro in both schools.
In my base school I made a PowerPoint presentation, which allowed me to add way more photos that I would have used otherwise. I also added sound effects, music clips and dotted the presentation with questions to make the whole thing like an interactive pub quiz.
I gave the students a hand-out with simple questions on it (Where is Amanda from? and 4 choices, etc.), for the students to fill out as we went along. I also made them guess things like my hobbies (which involved me acting out horse riding), countries I have visited (which involved me describing stereotypes of those countries) and anything else I could think of (What is Manchester famous for? Do you know a famous band from Liverpool? *play music*) At the end of the presentation we went through the hand-out questions.
I wanted my presentation to be fun, so I punctuated it with jokes. (“This is my boyfriend” *show picture of David Beckham*, “This is my house *show picture of a mansion*). It definitely worked to get the attention of the students.
After the presentation I played a Spice Girls’ song whilst the students wrote 3 questions to ask me. Then I played a popular up-beat Japanese pop song. Whilst the music was playing my elephant teddy was passed around the class. When the music stopped, the person who was holding the teddy had to stand up and ask me their question. This continued until the end of class (about 10 minutes usually).
At the other school I visit I couldn’t use my presentation, so I printed off and laminated a selection of photos. I kept the basics of the presentation the same, including the jokes and asking them to guess, but I either acted out the clues or drew them on the board. My drawing skills suck at the best of times, so the students had fun trying to guess what I was drawing. (My horse looked like a cow, my cow looked like a hippo/dog; you get the idea). At this school, I wrote out 10 basic questions on individual slips of paper, folded the up and put them into a bag. When I played my “Pass the Elephant” game, when the music stopped, the student had to pick one of the slips of paper and read it out. Again, I drew my answer (badly) on the board, and the students had to guess what it was. e.g. “What is your favourite book?” “My favourite book has magic (draw wand), wizards (draw hat)” by this time shouts of Harry Potter are persistent “no, not Harry Potter, it has a ring (draw circle) and an eye (draw eye)” and so on and so forth.
I was very worried about my young age when I first came, I’m only a few years older than my students after all, but decided to use that to my advantage and let them know how much I loved Japanese things, like Aikido, manga and Godzilla. I think it really helped the students warm up to me because after every class I always had a group of students staying behind to ask me questions (usually on my favourite manga).
The teachers I work with were happy to let me do a whole lesson about me and get the students to write their own self-intros in the following lesson, they basically gave me total freedom, but I did talk through my lesson with all the teachers involved beforehand. Of course I had to adapt it slightly to it the students, so my san-nen-sei didn’t need any translation, but ichi-nen-sei took a little longer and a little help from the JTE to work it out. I wanted the students to tell me the answer on their own, so I had to omit some parts of the self-intro to give ichi-nen-sei time to do this.
My main advice is don’t be afraid to try something new, and don’t be put of if something goes wrong. My last self-intro class was miles better than my first, my next one will be better still. Use your JTEs, they are infinite sources of wisdom, but don’t rely on them. This is a class about you, so make sure you can be yourself in it. My last piece of advice is, make it fun. This is one of the few lessons where the students aren’t required to sit and copy from the blackboard. Get them involved, it will keep them interested and they will love you forever.