Posted by: wesleysensei | September 25, 2009

What do you have for breakfast?

Last week, the 1年生 (ichi-nen-sei (1st graders in Japanese, but by American standards 7th graders)) were learning about a conversation focused on the phrase “What do you have for breakfast?”. Here it is straight from the textbook:

Mike: “What do you have for breakfast?”

Judy: “I have cereal. How about you?

Mike: “I have rice and miso soup.”

Judy: “Oh, really?”

Seems interesting enough right? Well I asked my JTE if I could make it more interesting. Being that she is amazing and willing to try new things, she said “Of course!”. The plan was simple: incorporate actual food into the lesson so to introduce the students to American breakfast foods while also practicing and varying the textbook conversation.

I brought in Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Oatmeal, Grits, and fruit. We held class in the school kitchen, which was a nice change of pace for the students and allowed me to prep the food during class. The first class didn’t know we were gonna eat the food because we started out practicing the vocabulary and phrases. Halfway through the lesson, my JTE made a point to say she was hungry and started eating the food! I promptly joined her which made the students eager to join us. We informed the students they could eat too, but only if their respective team could score enough points in a quiz game.

My JTE started asking the questions while I prepared the oatmeal and grits in the microwave. By the time I finished, one of the groups had answered enough questions correctly and could choose two breakfast foods; I served them cereal and oatmeal.

Eventually all the groups earned enough points to eat some food. No one was too eager to choose the grits so I made the lowest two teams only choose one item because the other was gonna be grits!

Here are some pictures from the lesson:

On a sidenote, I would like to complain about katakana words in Japanese. Katakana is part of the Japanese syllabary and is “most often used for transcription of words from foreign languages.” The words usually sound VERY similar to the original word. Take for example “video.” The katakana form is ビデオ which is pronounced “bi (sounds like “be”)-de-o.” “Video” and “bi-de-o” sound pretty close and I feel like a Japanese speaker should understand what I mean if say the former. However, Japanese speakers have a difficult time if you don’t say the word EXACTLY the wron…I mean “right” way; that is, the katakana way. As an English speaker, I can sometimes decipher what a French or Spanish word is because it sounds like an English word. I would expect this concept to transfer to Japanese. If a Japanese person hears an English word that sounds like a katakana transcription of an English word they should be able to get the basic idea, especially with context clues!

My ichi-nen-sei girls, however, stared at me as if I was speaking gibberish when I said the word cinnamon. Here is the context: the girls wouldn’t eat the oatmeal because it looked gross; I said it was delicious and even tried some; I used some Japanese and said it tasted really good and was sweet; then, I said, “it has cinnamon. cinnamon. ciiiinnnnnaaaammooooonn.” This went on for a good 30 seconds, repeating cinnamon a bajillion times. They didn’t understand. I then got out my electronic dictionary (i.e. iPod touch) and looked up cinnamon. Guess what it is in Japanese…..

シナモン shi-na-mo-n

The second I said “shi-na-mo-n” really slowly and broken up the girls said “OOOHH….shi-na-mo-n” 

I proceeded to slap my forehead while the girls started to eat the oatmeal. And guess what: they liked it.


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