Culture · Culture Shock · Education · Lesson Plans · Living in Japan · Teaching

Handicapped High School

Today was one of those days where the city government decides that it wants to show off its foreign workers. Sorry, that sounded a little sarcastic, but I don’t think that it is that far off. Instead of going to our normal schools, the government ALT’s (myself and seven others) went to a handicapped high school in Kawagoe to teach two hours of English. When I went to the school last year I was surprised to find that the students were not really so much handicapped, but rather the majority of them were really socially awkward and would not manage well in a real high school. Yes, there were some students who had slight cases of Down’s Syndrome or autism, but nothing along the lines of what I would classify as being “handicapped.” The students I teach at elementary school who are in the handicapped class are far more handicapped that these high school students. I have a few students who cannot speak in words despite being 10 years old, while I have others who don’t even remember their own name. I always find these high school students to be very alert but just really socially awkward or slow learners. I wonder if Japan considers those who cannot learn things quickly handicapped, because I would say that over 80% of this school’s students are just slow.

Anyway, we go to this once every semester, so a typical student at this high school will have a grand total of six English class hours by the time they graduate. Anyone else find this a little ridiculous? I don’t mean to make it out like I think we shouldn’t go at all, but if the Board of Education really wants to provide these students with an English education, shouldn’t we be asked to go there more often? Personally, I wouldn’t mind going there once a month to teach them English. The class is more like a glorified elementary school English lesson than what one would expect from a high school, so classes are still really fun and I get to interact a lot with the students. I don’t think that the Board of Education really wants to give these students an English education, or else we would be going there more often, rather they want its students to be exposed to foreign people. However, all these students have met foreign people when they were in Jr. high school and elementary school…Sometimes, I just cannot get my heard around the goals of education in Japan.

I was paired up with my fellow AET from the UK who I find really easy to get along with and we often go out for some coffee at Starbucks. We decided that our lesson’s theme was going to be “sea creatures” since it is almost summer vacation in Japan. Our lesson went as follows:

First Period:
♥ AET self introductions
♥ Students and teachers introduce themselves (My name is —-.)
♥ Teach ocean creatures vocabulary (total of 16 words)
♥ Play the “What’s Missing?” game
♥ Play the “Evolution Game”
        o Students start out as crabs and do the janken in English (rock-paper-scissors). After they play janken and the winner gets to move onto the next level. Crab – starfish – octopus – squid – walrus – shark – mermaid.
♥ Play “Hop-Say-Jump”
        o Class is divided into two teams and the vocab cards are placed on the floor in a row (or whatever shape) with the teams on opposite ends. The first person from each team stands next to each card and says the English before moving onto the next one. When they meet someone on the other team, they do rock-paper-scissors and the winner gets to continue while the loser has to return to their team (back of the line) before the next person from that team can start.
Second Period:
♥ Review previously learned vocabulary
♥ Teach our English expression (Do you like 【    】? Yes, I do./No, I don’t) and ask a few students individually for practice
♥ Play “Interview Bingo”
        o Give all the students a 4X4 bingo grid and have students draw pictures of all the animals in any order that they want. They then go and find a friend and do rock-paper-scissors. They winner asks “Do you like 【    】 and the loser answers either “Yes, I do.” or “No, I don’t.” The winner then gets to circle that creature on their bingo board. When a student gets one line finished (BINGO!) they come and get a strawberry scented stamp from me (♥□♥)/★゛
♥ Play “Telephone” with inflatable hammers

I quickly became a favorite because I had the stamps and students wanted to play longer to get more BINGO’s so that they could get more stamps from me. Who knew that even in high school scented stamps were such a coveted prize? Telephone was probably the most fun because the kids got this crazy look in their eyes when it was their turn to run to the front of the room with their hammer and whack the “secret word.” All in all, it was a good teaching day.

However, the best part of the day was that we were finished at noon and had the afternoon off to do whatever we wanted. I went out to lunch with two of my fellow ALT’s at a new Hawaiian restaurant close to the station. Really good food, but the overly cheesy traditional Hawaiian music was starting to get to us. There was also a woman who we swear her job was to watch people eat and make sure that they ate their food properly. Our burgers came with a small cup of sauce that we were supposed to put over the meant, but that was going to make a mess so we were using it to dip our fries and onion rings in. The moment she saw this, she ran to our table and explained (very politely) that we were eating our food incorrectly. She did this every time she caught one of us dipping, so we took turns making sure she wasn’t watching while we proceeded to “eat our food incorrectly.” I then spent the rest of the afternoon at the gym where I completed a full workout plus some and spent about an hour hopping between onsen and sauna. All in all, it was a very good day.

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2 thoughts on “Handicapped High School

  1. That high school sounds like a lot of fun! It’s too bad the Japanese government doesn’t make them more of a priority.

  2. Food Nazis in Japan – what next. I will bet I have never eaten my french fries correctly!

    Your high school day sounds like it was really fun. How did you guys think up all those neat games?

    Maybe the ALTs should start a set of resource files collecting all the good ideas and useful facts about your teaching experiences so any newcomers would have a pace to start other than “nothing”?

    With permission you could have a collection ina a single file cabinet at the “central office” for general ALT use.

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