Celebrate the Differences: Use Events as Extra Lesson Material
Remember, teaching English is great, but as assistant language teachers, we are here to introduce our own cultures, as well, to open students’ minds and broaden their horizons. You don’t need to bring just your own culture, but if you find an event from another country that you think is interesting, please feel free to share that with your students.
Here are some good events that you can share with your students. These are mainly Western events, but if you have any other celebrations from your country or culture, please feel free to share that.
Halloween is no doubt an event that is getting more popular every year here in Japan. You will probably see more and more children trick-or-treating around your neighborhood. And you definitely don’t want to be in Shibuya’s famous scramble crossing at night if you are in a hurry. You can make games about the Halloween ghouls and even make masks with the students.
2) Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)
The Latin version of Halloween. This is a great chance to introduce an event from another country that is also popular around the world. Dia de los Muertos is basically a mix of Halloween and Japan’s O-bon. Families go to the graveyard of a member of the family who passed away to pay their respects and to celebrate the life they lived. Some parts of Latin America have big, extravagant parades.
This is another big event in North America, but few Japanese people know about it or have heard little of it. You can explain about how families use this holiday as an opportunity to get together, as some families live long distances from each other in the U.S. and Canada and don’t get the chance to meet regularly. You can talk about how the pilgrims and native Americans had a big dinner to stop the fighting.
As assistant language teachers, we are here to introduce our own cultures, as well, to open students’ minds and broaden their horizons.
Christmas is probably one of the main events celebrated around the world. It is also celebrated here in Japan in a different way. But you can talk about how your country celebrates Christmas, and compare it to how it is celebrated here.
4) New Year’s Eve
This big event is, of course, celebrated around the world. Your culture may celebrate it a little early or later, but nevertheless, it is a milestone that is always marked. Again, this is a great chance to explain the difference of how your country (or other countries that you find interesting) celebrates New Years.
5) Valentine’s Day
St. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be only girls giving chocolates to the boys (as it is customary in Japan), but we as children gave all of our classmates Valentine cards. You can have them make Valentine bags in which they will be able to receive the homemade and decorated cards. Also, make sure that they have enough cards so everyone in the class can get a valentine card from another student. Of course, you do this while teaching them new vocabulary or even sentences that they may use.
Those are the main events happening in the upcoming second and third semesters of school. Throwing in little things like this is a great way to break from the mundane and really teach your culture, and don’t be afraid to share culture from other countries, as well. You can make masks, games or do the actual event (trick-or-treating, etc.). If you want, you can even throw in some English they learned in the previous lessons.
Remember, the key to being a good ALT is to expand their minds and make them interested in English and other cultures.