Third graders are worse than my grandmother at trying to set me up (and that’s saying something). Of course their social circles are much smaller, so that provides for far more interesting suggestions than my grandmother’s. At any rate after teaching one third grade class at one of Ms Y’s schools I was invited to have lunch with them as well (給食 Japanese school lunch) and then during lunch was begged to play with them at recess. I was quick to answer yes and then their homeroom teacher did something terrible. He suggested I pick the game we played, which would have been fine had any of the kids played the games I played when I was the same or even called games the same. After all ‘Tag’ in Japanese is ‘Play Giants/鬼ごっこ‘ so I was pretty sure things like Red-Light, Green-Light or Red Rover were definitely not viable options. At any rate we ended up playing ‘Dracula’ a version of tag, where four people start as vampires (‘it’s’) and whomever they tag also become vampires . . . I guess it’s a bit like a simplified zombies vs. . . .um whatever.
At any rate, the point of this whole story is the fact that the students used their gym hats (reversible red and white hats) to indicated who was a vampire and who wasn’t. And the students kept on correcting me because I used Japanese to label the vampires, i.e. I would say ‘akai hatto’ instead ‘red hat’ and my students would correct me. Fantastic! How can I make that happen more? How can I make kids run around the playground (even when I’m not there) and say things like, “No cheating!” or “Wait!” or “Hurry up!” I do have a group of fifth grade boys at one of Ms M’s schools that used loads of English when I played soccer with them. And I want to make all of my students like this.
How? I suppose one thing would be to play with them every recess (and it’s not like I couldn’t, or it wouldn’t be anything other than positive – except maybe for my shoes). But I can’t play with every class every single recess. There’s way too much going on during those forty-five minutes for me to be everywhere at once.