Thursday, January 29, 2009

Speeches: Part Deux

It's that time again: Speech Week. That special time of year when my 320 sophomore students are required to give me speeches in English, a time that is perhaps just as painful for me as it is for them. You may recall reading about my kids' speeches in November 2007, when I nearly dashed my brains out with a hammer to end the tedium.

This time, though, I'm not writing to complain. I'm writing to share a rare gem.

Generally speaking, it's been my experience that Japanese students show an astonishing lack of creativity. Creative thinking is simply not expected of them in the classroom. Indeed, if they're asked to do a task without a clear black-and-white answer, they seem paralyzed, unsure what to do.

Once in a while, though, one of my students surprises me. This is one of those times.

Earlier this term, the kids had to choose a topic from a list and write a speech. This particular boy chose the topic, "What I would do if I were rich." Here's his original speech before I corrected it. He gave it this morning.

What I would do if I were rich
I have a dream. My dream is take a bath of cola because I want to feel sparkling. It is easy for me to try it. But I don't have enough money. 1.5 litres is about 200 yen, and the bath is about 180 litres. Then I calculated this. I need cola 120 and I need 24000 yen to take this bath. And when I am taking this bath, I want to enter a lot of lemonades, and carbonic acid will more intense. I want to enjoy it. Maybe, it will looks like bubble bath. If I were rich, I want to try it. Thank you.

I was absolutely delighted! Such a welcome surprise after losing count of the number of dull speeches I'd heard about the wonders of baseball club or the beautiful sea in Okinawa. This is quite possibly the most creative thing any of my students has ever done. I heaped praised on the boy in class and plan to publish his work in the English newspaper that I started with the English club last year.

I'll share just one more that tickled me. This one is from one of the few students who took the liberty of making up his own topic. I think this boy is already well prepared for the "real world," don't you?

Things that I have always in my mind
There are many kinds of issues in the world. In such a society, I have some things that I have always in my mind to survive. First of all, it is to put up with. I think that we had better put up with, or our minds won't get stronger and we can't get happiness and success. For example, I put up with eat and drink. I almost drink cold water as a drink because there is little tea in my house. I also make it a rule to put up with meal a little. Why don't you try to "put up with" me at any cost?

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