One of the reasons I have not posted meaty entries for a while is that I have taken on more English teaching during the week and not quite adjusted to this increase in daytime activity. I think things are gearing up for the busy summer programme and hence there have been more opportunities for me to teach English…but, conversely, fewer opportunities to sit down and write entries for annotranslate.
The extra classes have been a lot of fun though and I currently have some really great students.
When I began teaching English I would sometimes spend multiple lessons going through idioms and proverbs, believing that this was a good way to give my students useful vocabulary, impart a little cultural knowledge, as well as toss them some self-contained lines they could deploy to sound natural to native speakers. However, I think that there is a tendency for new English teachers to lean too heavily on this easy-to-teach-without-much-planning style of lesson, rather than to get down to the nitty gritty of grammar, fluency, and structured expression. Regular readers of this blog might identify similarity in the way that I taught English in those early days and how I – ahem – “learn” Japanese now.
As a more experienced English teacher I generally only tackle idioms and proverbs with higher level students and only then when I have worked with them for sufficiently long to be satisfied with their competence in more fundamental areas. I also try to put a twist on my idiom and proverb lessons so that it isn’t just me didactically throwing a bunch of my favourite English phrases at them.
A twist that I put on a recent such lesson with a Japanese student was to give him two lists of proverbs, to be sorted into pairs which to some extent undermined or contradicted each other.
Too many cooks spoil the broth
/tuː ˈmɛni kʊks spɔːɪl ðə brɒθ/
Multiple people working together on the same task can lead to negative consequences
Many hands make light work
/ˈmɛni hændz meɪk laɪt wɜːk/
Multiple people working together on the same task can make the task easier
Talking about proverbs was fun (it is easy to see why so many English teachers employ it as a lesson-planning crutch) and in my student’s homework he gave me something I can use now on the blog 😮
The homework was to find two Japanese proverbs which contradict or undermine each other and to bring them to class, ready to explain in English.
Here is what he brought:
“zen wa isoge”
act quickly without doubt; there is no time like the present, strike while the iron is hot, etc.
I hope to get on top of my new workload and squeeze myself back into daily blogging…so for me 善は急げ not 石橋を叩いて渡る!!!