End of Term Gifts and Games

One of my “teaching gigs” is at Hiroshima College of Foreign Languages, HCFL or “Gaigo” for short. “Gaigo” or 「外語」 is the abbreviation of the Japanese name, 広島外語専門学校, Hiroshima Gaigo Senmon Gakko.

A “senmon gakko” is a vocational college and the courses last for two years as opposed to three or four years for university students.

Because it’s a vocational college it attracts students who, for the most part, have pretty clear goals, whether it’s to work for an airline, a hotel, or a company, or to get into a university either in Japan or overseas.

The two years go quickly, but as I teach there three days a week, and teach the same first year communication class three mornings a week, second year communication twice a week, and also see some of the students in other classes, I see a lot more of the students than at any of my other “gigs,” so in many cases we get to know each other well enough that,

“parting is such sweet sorrow…”

Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, II, ii, 184

End Of Term Play Time!

This week was the last week of the teaching term. Actually, most of the classes were “make up classes” tacked onto the end of term to “make up” for the classes that were lost to national holidays earlier in the term.

With every single student placed in a job or a college, with the course books completed, the make up week takes on something of a festive air. I bring in a bunch of games and the students bring in snacks and we celebrate the completion of their college life with class parties.

This week the students and I played:

  • Apples to Apples – Great for intermediate and higher students.
  • Machi Koro – I use the English version of this fun city-building game.
  • Four-player Othello – not much English content here, but great fun!
  • Spot It! – Fast paced matching game that gets even the shyest student to start shouting English words!
  • Love Letter – The English version gets students to use several fixed phrases. (I found that elementary school kids love this game.)
  • Story Cubes – Roll the dice and put the pictures together in any order to tell a story – in English of course!
  • Chess – Great brain-training with analysis in English afterwards if the students can take it.
  • Shogi (Japanese Chess) – one of my first year students is a keen player and had a good time coaching his pals and beating me…
  • Daifugo (See this Wikipedia page for the rules) – my favourite Japanese card game.
  • Cheat (“Dauto” in Japanese) – Well, there’s a bit of English in this game, but mostly it’s a bit of crazy fun.
  • Old Maid (Babanuki in Japanese) – Not much more than “Take a card” to this game, but students of all ages seem to love it.
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Almond Chocolate & 7-11 Peanuts!

Students went around exchanging snacks with each other, and a few of the second years brought me in gifts which show how well they have got to know my preferences… Several boxes of chocolate covered almonds, and a packet of 7-11 “Kotawari no Batapii” (i.e. peanuts)!

7-11 peanuts are the best in Japan. If you’re in Japan, take the peanut test – buy peanuts from various convenience stores and supermarkets and test them against 7-11 peanuts. You will never buy peanuts from any other store apart from 7-11 again. Seriously.

Some students wrote sweet farewell messages on the boxes, such as this one from “100% Sora,” the one student who achieved a 100% attendance record in every class of mine for the whole two years that she was at Gaigo:

Thank you for two years.

It was very fun in this class.

I could learn a lot of things from you