Lessons Learned – Emotional Sakura

Emotional Sakura

This is not actually a lesson plan so much as an idea that can be used in just about any class. The characters in the New Horizon book are with the students from 7th to 9th grade. There is Kevin, an Australian basketball Player, Becky, a Canadian from Ottawa, Sakura, a Japanese girl and Ichiro and Japanese boy. They are friends and they are always having conversations in English. It’s really quite special.

"The end is nigh!"

“The end is nigh!”

There are some minor characters like Ms. Brown – an ALT and the occasional situational character like “Immigration officer” or “store clerk.”

Purpose: To be less boring than a normal class.

Every single one of these conversations leaves out a key element of English, expressive tone. One of the most important components to being understood in English is using the proper tone (especially when you have a limited vocabulary).

I was so tired of having these characters have such bland emotionless interactions that I decided I would spice it up a little bit.

"Maybe fire ants and hot pokers in the eye!"

“Maybe fire ants and hot pokers in the eye!”

Prep: It is very important that this idea is cleared with the Japanese teacher ahead of time so it doesn’t catch them off guard.

I asked to show the students that the meaning of a word changes depending on how it is said. The best example I can think of is the relatively innocuous phrase, “Ok.” I started doing this with the immigration officer from New Horizons 2 unit 3. The students had to come to me and pretend they were handing me their passport. Every single student wouldn’t make eye contact or even try and look up from their book. The second time through I asked the teacher if I could be an angry immigration officer. I surprised the first boy who came up to me with a very loud, “SHOW ME YOUR PASSPORT, PLEASE.” He was so caught off guard that he didn’t even look at his book. He found out he had the dialogue memorized and he didn’t even know it.

However, I think the best way to demonstrate is to have an aside with the class for 5 minutes and have the teacher ask you questions. The response is always, “OK,” but the tone changes each time.

I would use the most simplistic grammar available to that class.

Execution: Have the teacher ask/command you, “Please do your homework,” or something similar. It is important that the command or question is the same through the whole exercise.

Respond with:
“OK.” – even tone.
“OK.” – happy tone.
“OK.” – on the verge of tears.
“OK.” – roll your eyes, look exasperated.
“OK.” – Yell this and be angry (also why its good to warn the teacher ahead of time).
“OK.” – scared/timid.
“OK.” – make a so/so gesture to indicate indifference.
“OK.” – off the charts excited.

clearly having a nervous breakdown

clearly having a nervous breakdown

If you have a particularly adept class you can work in some question and answer, “How does he feel?” “Is he happy? Is he sad?”

Once you have laid the ground work for this. Every time you have a read and repeat exercise or a conversation exercise that is directly from the book you can jazz it up by having the students enact one of these emotions to change the meaning of the conversation. I have done with this with each grade and found it to be the most useful with the 8th graders. There are some conversations that this simply wont work but for the most part it can liven up a class.

A final thought: Some students will not like this because it will really force them out of their comfort zone of quietly mumbling English to themselves at their desks. One on one maybe a little difficult at first so have the whole class execute one half of the conversation with you together as one emotion. This will help ease them in to the more difficult situation of an emotional one on one interaction.

"Revenge is sweet."

“Revenge is sweet.”

One comment on “Lessons Learned – Emotional Sakura

  1. […] This is where you come in. First off I showed each class the Shimura Ken sketch to give them an example of very well done comedy based a simple idea. The teacher insisted that we go through the sketch in the text book but I would try and skip it if you can. To bridge the unfunny sketch in the text book to actual comedy, I acted out the sketch on my own playing both parts and used a radio as my game console. Practice this at home if you know are going to do it so you can get your timing down. Also I would cover facial expressions and reaction noises like, “Uh…,” if you have time. I had them repeat “uh” about 10 times with different meanings associated with it. Also see my post about Emotional Sakura. […]

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