|Some of my funniest students goofing around with role playing costumes during the break.|
There were many giggles, mistakes, and smiles today in my classroom as my students did a wonderful job giving a Show and Tell presentation. For many of them, this was their first presentation ever and they were extremely nervous in the days leading up to the presentations. I cannot imagine what it must feel like to give your first presentation at the age of 18 or 19 and to give it in a foreign language!
To be honest, I was quite surprised that many of them had never given a presentation before. In America, most students take a speech class in high school that is devoted to learning the art of giving a good presentation. Not all of the students were first timers, some of them had given presentations in their other English class a week prior and many of them had given presentations in Japanese in their classes in University or High School. But for the students that had never given a presentation ever, I was extremely overjoyed and impressed by their work.
They all chose an item that had some kind of meaning for them or significance in their lives. For example, a baby ring, a lion statue, a picture frame, a special letter, and even a famous soccer players jersey. They were given 3 class periods leading up to the presentation day to learn about what a Show and Tell Presentation is about, and to work on their speaking skills.
Two weeks before the presentations I devoted one class towards getting the girls comfortable speaking in front of others. This specific class required the girls to time each other talking about a specific topic for 1 minute. There was a lot of group work and we talked about what things were good for a presentation such as eye contact, posture, smiling, speaking slowly and clearly. I gave a sample show and tell presentation that day with a magic towel my friend bought me in Hakone. The presentation seemed to catch their attention and they loved seeing the video of the old man with a blow dryer as the hot and cold air magically removed a geisha's clothing and putting them back on again.
The two days before the presentation day were devoted to the show and tell writing and practice. I had them choose an item the week of and on the Wednesday before they had to talk about their item with a partner and then I gave time in class to write out their presentations. I also threatened them a little saying if you don't come to my class on Friday for the presentation day then you will present on the next class on Tuesday! This seemed to work as all of my students that have been coming to class regularly showed up for the presentations. On the Thursday before, I let the students finish their writing and practice their presentation skills with a partner. I strongly encouraged gestures and movement as I made funny faces and walked around the room coaching them.
I am so proud of my students. They have come so far with their speaking skills in such a short amount of time. I really do believe that the Westgate program provides a good short term English program. 40 minutes everyday is great as the girls get to speak English throughout the week which is key for developing fluency in any language. The chosen class goals are great and serve as a review for the students. They have all had English in high school and middle school for 6 years before entering university,but most of them have not had the opportunity to actually use it within a speaking context. On the first day of class, all of my students were shy, awkward and nervous to say the least. They could barely utter a word of English and many of them freaked out when I simply asked them "how are you?" Now, they can give a 3-4 minute presentation entirely in English and have the ability to talk in English for up to 10-20 minutes straight without there being a giant lull in the conversation. They are asking each other questions, asking me questions,explaining answers, and teaching each other useful vocabulary and grammar.