Anime of Tomorrow
Attack on Titan Helps Teach English
I’d like to share something awesome that happened today. As many of you know, I’m an English teacher working at several public schools in Japan. One of the great side-benefits of my job is being able to connect with my students through our common interest—anime. I’ve always said that one of the best ways to study is to associate the lesson with something you love. If you can make the learning process fun, then it doesn’t feel like studying and you absorb the material more naturally.
So during one of today’s classes, I was teaching the meanings of the five senses and how to use them in sentences. A few examples would go like, “The sushi tastes delicious,” “The flowers smell nice,” and “John sounds sick.” I was trying to think of colorful topics that all of the students could relate to so they could easily understand the meaning of the sample sentences, and since baseball is popular here in Japan, one of the phrases I had them say was, “The Giants look strong,” which was curiously followed by some hushed, but very excited chatter amongst a group of girls (for those of you who don’t know, the Giants are a Japanese professional baseball team and they’re pretty popular). I didn’t pay them much attention since they weren’t interrupting and I proceeded with the lesson.
After class, as I was packing my things up to head back to my desk in the teacher’s room, the girls approached me and asked, “Do you know Shingeki no Kyojin?” At which point, I realized that they had made a connection to the anime through the word “giant.” I told them I did and what followed was one of those moments when I can get my students to overcome their shyness around speaking a foreign language. Our mutual interests allowed them to open up as we had a fairly coherent conversation about current anime during the break between classes. Those are the moments I live for—watching my students’ brows furrowed in thought change to smiles of delight as the light bulb turns on in their heads and fills their eyes with understanding.