For a long time, I could never remember his name and it became a joke in our house that whenever I mentioned him, I would mess up his name, but after years of liking him and paying attention to his career, I finally remember it! It helps to think that in Japanese, his name means "Wife-Husband-Tree".
For our final project in the 1st grade English class (sophomores for those of you not in Japan), we asked the students to pair up and choose a topic for a persuasive speech. Each partner was to prepare a speech, but they had to represent opposite opinions about their topic. For example: Long hair is better than short hair and vice versa; Art classes are an important part of a school curriculum and vice versa; and Passive guys are better than aggressive guys and vice versa.
These topics seem a bit on the shallow side, but they served a higher purpose which was to allow the students to have fun with their topics, research to find evidence without too much of a burden, and to focus more on the presentation skills they had been developing and practicing all year long (eye contact, gestures, posture, visual aid creation, etc.) The newest skill added for this particular project was to prepare an entire speech from intro to conclusion with transitions and sequencers placed in the correct parts of the speech. Their power point presentations would be an important component as well, and in preparing their presentations, they were challenged with the job of creating slides and being able to explain them with the correct "introduce-explain-emphasize" technique that they learned last fall.
So, of course, Adie and I had to give model presentations on several occasions throughout this project so that they could see our process as well as the final result, which was our complete presentations. We presented to them about one week before their own presentation dates, so it gave them plenty of time to practice their own presentations.
One point I would like to make here is how students are evaluated. Of course, we are looking at various criteria, such as their physical skills in presenting as well as their content, evidence, quality of slides, explanation of slides, etc. However, what really stands out to anyone who watches these presentations is the PASSION that the speaker displays throughout the speech!
Yes, PASSION! Whether, real or fake - from the heart or just an act - if the speaker shows passion for his topic, no matter how socially-important or not, the audience will be much more interested.
Our best (and most passionate) speakers were chosen to perform their speeches again for the entire class the next day, so that everyone could see their amazing presentations, and it was a great way to end the year. I think both students and teachers could remember back to how we all felt on the first day of school one year ago when the students were timid and worried about their English, and we teachers were unsure of how much they could understand. On this day, when we all sat back and watch the 9 best speakers (there was one threesome and three pairs), we felt good, and we felt proud and happy for all that we had accomplished this past year.
And, on that note, let me now show you my model presentation about Japan's most exceedingly handsome actor. (Adie's presentation was about her favorite actor, Shun Oguri. I will post her presentation in the next post, just because it is funny to see the opposite points being made. I thought her presentation was kind of "bitchy" but we all got a good laugh out of the whole process!)