徳島 英会話教室 

“Tashi Dollars!”

When you ask first year junior high school students (7th graders) in Hachiman what they want for their birthday, you may not get your typical response. Sure you would expect most students to ask for a new PlayStation or an Xbox, or maybe even an I-Pod, but for the 7 graders in Hachiman, it’s all about the “Tashi Dollar!” That’s right! The “Tashi Dollar” is a copy of a US dollar bill featuring yours truly. These dollars are presented to first year jr. high school students for their outstanding classroom participation in my English class. For 7th graders in Japan, it’s the first year of formal English classes. Although some students have been fortunate enough to learn some English before entering jr. high school – for the majority – it’s an exciting new subject. Walking to the 7 grade section of the school can be experience likening to a rock star maneuvering through his biggest fans. Being the only foreigner in the school can be very flattering at times. Screams of “Tashi Dollars please!” can be heard as I make my way to the classroom. Twice a year, in December and March, students are given an opportunity to exchange their hard-earned “Tashi Dollars.” Small prizes, from stickers and school supplies to larger prizes such as Seattle souvenirs to authentic autographed Tashi baseballs are traded for. For the students with the most “Tashi Dollars” in the class, a certificate of achievement is presented. For the most part, the goal of “Tashi Dollars” is meant to motivate students in English class, which works. However, the plug on “Tashi Dollars” is pulled after the 7th grade, as students mature quickly and before the novelty wears off – hoping to avoid seeing my face on the ground with footprints and “English sucks!” written across it…

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