Motivating Japanese University English Students Sports Newspaper Project — The Classroom Olympics
Once per term in a classroom full of students who enjoy sports,I bring in various table top sports games such as: table hockey,table top baseball, electric football, foosball (table soccer) and I even have a table top bowling game. The students love it! We have a tournament in which I divide them into teams of 2-4 students depending on class size and how much time we have to get through the tournament. As they play they take notes on the results of the games and important events that happened, ie) Who scored, or what interesting things occurred during the tournament.
Motivating Japanese University English Students — Pre-teaching Vocab
I pre-teach sports related vocabulary and give them a list of sports related words with Japanese translations. Dictionary use is encouraged as well.
It is amazing to see previously unmotivated serious faced students come to life, with smiles as they see the Tokyo Giants on the field of the table top baseball game. They enthusiastically take notes about what happened in the third inning. The quality of writing they produce about this tournament is surprisingly good. Enjoyment does seem to stimulate and lead to better quality work.
If your students are advanced enough you could turn this activity into a TV broadcast with students filming the sports and reporting live (while recording) the broadcast. They could interview the players. Or if not advanced, you could scaffold the activity with pre-taught phrases the students could use in the broadcast.
Motivating Japanese University English Students: Class Art Project
Some of my students are not so skilled at speaking nor writing in English, but they are artistic. I try to find some way of motivating and rewarding the less skilled students. Repeatedly getting a “C” is pretty demotivating and bringingout some of the other ways people learn is always a good idea.
I send the students outside to draw something they think is beautiful. I usually do this in my writing classes, but you could do it as a pairwork activity after they draw their pictures.
I want them to know that studying English isn`t just studying from some boring textbook. We can do interesting things.
The students write about why they picked the scene they drew. Where is it? Why do they like it? What feelings does it bring out in them?
This activity like others I feel, helps students to realize that nglish isn`t about textbooks, it is about communicating feelings. It is a way of sharing with others.
Motivating Japanese University English Students: Group Music Project
Almost everyone likes music.
I put the students into groups of 5 or 6 and they write about some of the singers and bands they enjoy listening to. Once finished their writing, they make a presentation to the class.I do this activity in both speaking and writing classes.
Each group member takes a turn telling us about their favourite singer. Then we listen to one song from each band (timepermitting).
Graded Readers Activities
Many publishers including Penguin, Oxford and Cambridge offer graded readers for students. I have slowly built up my own collection for students to borrow. As well, the university and high school I work for have large collections of them in their libraries.
The students borrow and read a book that interests them. I try to emphasize that the book should be interesting and easy to read. The students (hopefully) will comprehend that reading English books is fun, and not so difficult. It is a real thrill for some students to finish a book and realize they have read their first English book!
I have found in over twenty years of teaching English to Japanese that the students that enjoy reading English books are the best in all skills of English. They are always the best speakers!