木曜日, 11月 11, 2004

Student Speeches Summary, Part 1

    Every year, we tell our first-year high school students to make a 2-minute speech in English for their second-term grade. They can choose any topic, but they must memorize it and bring a visual aid to show the class. This morning, my task was to listen to and evaluate 3 hours of student speeches.
    It's pretty interesting to see what they come up with to talk about, so I'll summarize their speeches here. The most impressive one today was the girl who talked about Beethoven's face. She brought in two pictures of him looking stern and angry, (the Japanese expression is "he has a hard face"), and she discussed 3 theories about why he always wore that sour expression. One was because he loved coffee. The bitter coffee he drank every morning made him look that way. (I guess that explains my sour expression, too.) The other two theories had to do with his loss of hearing and his personality type. She said he probably made that face because he wanted to be left alone.
    First hour speech topics: a windchime shaped like My Neighbor Totoro, a key ring, a karate trophy won in elementary school, Shokupan-man (Anpanman's friend and "children's hero", a bike key ("I lost my bike key. So please help me look for it"), my dog, my club, money, the book 今会いに行きます, my pencil case ("This pencil case is my treasure." If I had a hundred yen for every time I heard this or a similar sentence, how many pencil cases I could buy!) Beethoven's face, Giant Baba, Okinawa, my club, Okinawa, tennis, the parts of a baseball uniform, soft tennis, NBA player Yuta Kabuse, and a music group called B'z.
    Second hour speech topics: The photographer Hoshino Michio, piano, my birthday, volleyball, mountain climbing trip, MD player, swimming club, my peach monkey, a funny story about something that happened in Mr. Donut ("All of the doughnuts were on sale for 100 yen each. My friend ordered an apple pie. When we got the receipt, it said 149 yen. My friend shouted 'Why!' They told us that apple pie isn't a doughnut.") the electone (an electronic keyboard made by Yamaha. I didn't think this was an English word, and I confirmed this by checking Wikipedia), finding love and playing tennis (This speech was hilarious. The boy began, "Where is love?" He asked this question a couple times, and people started to snicker. Then he said, "I tried to find love. But I couldn't find love. I want to find love. Please help me find love." By now everyone was laughing. He paused and then said, "I like tennis." The rest of the speech was about tennis) yesterday's dinner (the girl had drawn a picture in her sketchbook of what she had for dinner last night), mountain-climbing, dance (this girl brought a video of a dance contest, but her team didn't win so they weren't recorded on the tape. Why did she bring the tape, then?), animals of the world, my pencil case (The speech began: "This is pencil case. This is very important for me. Let's explanation this.") Brass band (I was rather shocked to see the word "faggot" in this girl's speech. It turns out the fagott (misspelled in her written draft as "faggot") is the Japanese word for bassoon, a wind instrument--it comes from French, not English. She held up a picture that said in big letters, Yamaha Fagott) and the book White Fang by Jack London. (The girl who read this book is actually fluent in English, since she went to junior high school in Florida, not Japan. I feel sorry for her, since the class is way too easy for her. I also feel kind of embarrassed in her class, speaking my usual teacher-speak easy English, and then meeting her eyes and realizing how dumb I must sound).
    Third hour speech topics: The painter Mark Chagall (this was one of the best speeches; the girl brought several color copies of his paintings, explaining the artist's use of color and symbolism), the American TV show "24", which is really popular in Japan now; blowing bubbles with a plastic toy ("I like blowing bubbles. I blew bubbles with my friend last summer. It was very exciting.") a CD of junior high school graduation, table tennis club, badminton, tennis, Reggie Miller, climbing a mountain, a bracelet (The speech began, "I introduce you to my bracelet." No humor was intended), my hamster (this kid brought a framed picture of his hamster. After his speech was done, another kid who hadn't prepared at all asked him for it, and when his turn came he tried to make a speech using the same picture-some completely impromtu story about an imaginary dead hamster named "Sabu" . The class laughed a lot, but he couldn't think of enough to say about "Sabu" to spin it out for two minutes, so we told him to prepare something for real and try it again next time), my hair pin, my pencil case, the South Alps (I thought this was in Europe at first, but it turned out he meant the "south Alps" in Japan, moving from Wakayama at age 6 ("My teacher told me 'You can do in new place.' I was happy when I heard her words." -- You can do what in a new place?!)
    Nonsensical as some of the speeches were, I understood them a bit better this year, because I told the students to give me their written draft while they spoke so I could read it. I used it to prompt a couple students when they completely forgot the next line, too, so we didn't have quite so many awkward stage-fright silences as we did last year.
    More student speech fun to follow.