At Ocean Forest Lutheran College in Dalyellup, Hilary James, Brooke Gray and Yumiko Schindler faced that perennial problem, How to get kids to practise at home? We have all thought of the obvious answer: get parents to help. But how? The way these dynamic teachers got parents onside has lessons for all language teachers.
Hilary, Brooke and Yumiko held a parent information evening with three goals:
- to promote the study of Japanese at Ocean Forest Lutheran College,
- to show parents the facilities and resources used in the Japanese program, and
- to explain how parents can support their children in learning Japanese.
Your goals for a parent evening would be similar, right? So let’s take a look at what made this evening so special.
The promotion of language learning included showing the Languages Open the Door presentation for parents (a co-publication of DEEWR; AEF and AFMLTA) and the video Shift Happens. (Check You Tube for any of several versions, including a 2012 update. In the older version, the data are a few years out of date now, but the video still has impact.) Brooke conducted a lesson which got the parents listening and speaking Japanese and then checking their understanding using an app on the school’s new iPods. We struggled to get the parents off the iPods – they were having too much fun! With Yumiko’s modelling and guidance, everyone tried some caligraphy, writing a range of kanji. Food is always popular and rather than just provide Japanese snacks, preparing norimaki and sushi became part of the awareness experience.
Finally, these clever teachers provided show bags of resources to empower parents to bring the learning of Japanese into their homes. The show bags included:
- hiragana flashcards
- number cards
- a placemat of essential vocabulary and phrases for all the family to practise
The evening was lots of fun and everyone enjoyed themselves. More importantly, parents reported feeling more confident in supporting their children learning Japanese.