I think.... English teachers in Japan are expected to be entertainers.
There, I said it and I meant it! I absolutely do think teachers need to be entertaining, but students need to be engaged and engagement takes effort. Effort refers to whether a student tries hard, asks for help, and participates in class.
They cant just waltz into class and be like, "Amuse me...make me happy."
So what does it mean to engage or entertain?
Our main goal with anything, should be engagement. Aspects of engagement are interest and attention and they're the most effective processes that promote understanding and learning.
Entertainment is important, but I think in life, we should be creating our own fun instead of depending on others to manufacture it for us.
Engage is to do something.
For example, video games. We can all agree that video games are engaging and they're engaging because of progressive skill-building. Games keep players engaged by helping them get better at something meaningful.
I know you're probably thinking: "Games aren't meaningful!" They are meaningful to the player.
Student engagement refers to the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that students show when they are learning or being taught. This also extends to the motivation they have to learn and progress.
Most English students, kids and adults, are not engaged in their English lesson. There's a laundry list of reasons why, but mainly because English education in Japan is limited to superficial lessons geared towards passing exams.
How do we fix it?
Culture is essential when studying languages and people learn best when they associate the education with an engaging experience. They feel motivated to continue with the process and they have the desire for more. This is how information is best assimilated and remembered.
*Language always carries meanings and references beyond itself!
The meanings of a particular language represent the culture of a particular social group. To interact with a language means to do so with the culture which is its reference point.
Here's a list list of majority native English speaking countries.
-Antigua and Barbuda
-St Kitts and Nevis
-St Vincent and the Grenadines
-Trinidad and Tobago
-United States of America
Bluntness alert! If you don't care about other cultures, it's best to learn English from a Japanese person.
How do we achieve student engagement?
Enjoy the process!
I know, this is tricky! Ideally, we can choose to always do what we love without ever needing to think about the things we don’t like. We choose what we engage with. That, unfortunately, is not the case in the real world, because there are times when we need to do something we don’t like. The ability to do well on things you don’t like is essential for success. Parents need to motivate their kids and adults need to push themselves!
If you are bored, you are expecting to be entertained.
Teachers can promote effort in the classroom by encouraging participation, setting expectations, and encouraging students to support each other as learners, but students need to make an effort.
Kids are often bored, because we let them rely on external stimulus to keep them engaged. Take that away and they don't know what to do.
Adults are often bored because they don't push themselves.
You will entertain yourself if you engage yourself.
The greatest distinction is that entertainment is passive, whereas engagement is active. All genuine learning is active learning!
"But, Bryan..I don't like my English school and my kids are bored at their English school!"
You need to remember: Just about every English school in Japan wants students to have fun and learn English. Every school is not the same and it's on you to find the right one.
Don't think I forgot about "edutainment!"
That post is coming soon.