Every now and then I see that a student has learned something, even though he doesn’t realize it.
As a rule, I don’t use any Japanese in class, even with low level students. Any use of Japanese by me creates a temporary ruckus that distracts from whatever point I was attempting to make. This happens as students laugh, mock, act shocked that I used Japanese. My students do all that despite the fact that they constantly say “Japanese please”. Even if they don’t do all the laughing, mocking and acting shocked, if I use Japanese they will learn to ignore any English coming out of my mouth until I stop spouting nonsense and start speaking Japanese.
Today, in a class that was competing to be my worst class, a student tried to get me translate a phrase. I’ve mentioned many times that I’m not a dictionary but that they are welcome to bring one to class.
A student was trying to get the phrase “get to school” but wasn’t sure about the “get to” part. He was ignoring the student next to him who just kept repeating “get, get, get, get” which only annoyed the student and made him say “get, get, get, get” louder.
The student with the question asked me in Japanese, but then stood up and demonstrated, in English and with gestures, what he was trying to say. I said “get to school.” and he finished his writing.
He didn’t realize that this is exactly what I’m trying to get them to do: talk around words they don’t know and, whenever possible, use gestures.
I felt smugly satisfied, which is not something I usually do with that class.