New Year's in Japan
by Judie Haynes
December and January are a great time to have your students share their heritage with the rest of the school population.
Winter celebrations is another theme for December/January. It is a great time to have your students share their heritage with the rest of the school population. So reserve that space in your school's center hallway or decorate the wall outside your classroom. The scope of this unit is wide because many of our ESL students do not celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah. You need to look at your student population before deciding how you will introduce this theme. Winter holidays that could be included are Diwali (India), New Year's Day, Epiphany (European), Chinese New Year (Asia).
I am using Japanese New Year to demonstrate how I teach winter celebrations to my ESL students. This lesson is written to follow the TESOL Pre-K-12 ESL Standards.
Proficiency/Grade Level:Beginning through Advanced students Grades 1-8
Content Concepts and Skills:
Drawing and labeling pictures about holiday customs and traditions from their countries (Beginners); Explaining holidays and traditions (Intermediate); arranging information into paragraphs (Advanced).
(for teaching Christmas and Hanukkah in the United States) decorations, lights, bells, sleigh, families, angel, bow candy cane, fireplace, chimney, evergreen, gifts, presents, candles, Menorah, quiet, reindeer, Santa Claus, gingerbread, holly, wrapping paper, wreath. Add vocabulary if you also plan to teach Kwanzaa.
For teaching the Japanese New Year's customs:
Osho-gatsu, kagami-mochi, hatsu-mode, zoni, kites, nengajo, otoshidama, caruta, kimono. bamboo, pine
Materials or Resources
parent and peer interviews, books such as Celebrations! ( Anabel and Barnabas Kindersley with Unicef, DK Publishing, Inc, New York: 1997.)
- I send home a notice to the parents of each of my students explaining that we will be studying winter celebrations in ESL and ask them to discuss an assigned celebration with their child.
- A specific part of a given celebration is assigned to those students whose culture is well-represented in my school population. I want everyone to write about something different.
- A beginning Japanese ESL student may be asked to contribute information about the food served for the Japanese Osho-gatsu (New Year). This student will be asked to draw pictures of the food served and to label them.
- An advanced beginner may be asked to draw and label a kimono and write a few sentences about its use on New Year's Day. This writing would be accompanied by a drawing.
- More advanced students may be asked to interview parents and explain:
- karuta - a traditional card game played by children on New year's Day
- hanetsuki - a traditional badminton type game played on New Year's Day.
- kite flying - a traditional New Year's activity for boys
- hatsu-mode - an important New Year's visit by families to Shinto temples to pray for a healthy and happy New Year.
- kado-matsu - pine and bamboo decorations put up outside of homes to celebrate the New Year
- nengajo - New Year's greeting cards
- otoshidama - money given to children on New Year's Day.
- kagami-mochi - large cakes of steamed rice made and displayed in a place of importance in the house until January 11th when it is eaten.
- Students make up a list of questions they will have to ask their parents, grandparents or other family members in order to complete the assignment.
- Students draw a picture and write about their winter celebration. Chinese students write about Chinese New Year. South American students talk about Epiphany celebrations in South America; Korean students write about playing jae-gy or yutnori or on wearing a hanbok; Japanese students write about New Year's celebrations in Japan. They may describe the special food they eat or clothing that is worn.
- Students share their stories and drawings with other class members. They teach others how to say "Happy New Year" or whatever else is suitable for their holiday to other class members.
- As each student shares information about his/her celebration, each member of the ESL class must ask a questions about the holiday. This encourages students to listen to their classmates and practice speaking in English.
- After I have read a few Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa stories to my class and we have looked at holidays in different cultures in "Celebrations!" by Anabel and Barnabas Kindersley, we make an ABC holiday list. This list should include holiday vocabulary from their own cultures
- Students contrast and compare two of the holidays using a Venn diagram.
- Students improve their note-taking skills by using a chart: "Who, what, when, where, why, how" ( 9k Adobe Acrobat .PDF) in the left hand column and the names of several holidays across the top.
Descriptors and Progress Indicators
During this unit students worked on the following skills:
- follow oral and simple written directions
- request and provide clarification
- participate in group discussions
- ask and answer questions
- request information and ask for help
- engage listeners attention verbally or nonverbally
- respond to questions about self and family
- get information and ask for clarification
- clarify and restate information
- recount events of interest
- talk about a favorite food or a celebration
© 1998-2007 Judie Haynes, www.everythingESL.net