Meishi Exchange

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Name of Teacher: Roland Carlos

Class/Grade/Language Level: Elementary 4-5

Textbook and specific lesson: Works well with Hi, Friends 1 – Lesson 1 (although book not required for lesson)

Goal: Get students with comfortable with self-introductions, very quick introduction to writing alphabet

Preparation: Meishi sized index cards (although regular paper can work in a pinch)

Class time: 25 minutes

This is a good lesson when kids are just starting out with English and learning how to do their self introductions (Hello. My name is ...) Kids are tasked with making their own meishi (business cards) and eventually exchanging them with each other.This is a 4/5th grade activity mainly because 1st-3rd grades have not yet learned romaji (the roman alphabet) and 6th graders are usually already past this stage in their English education.

Warm-Up (5 minutes)

Start off by introducing the day's theme, self-introductions. Some kids may already know what to say at this point, so encourage the ones who take initiative. You may want to also use this time to introduce the fact that people in western cultures use their first name more often than the last name, for added cultural exchange. To make sure everyone knows what to say, write "Hello. My name is ..." on the board and run through it a few times with the students. Spice things up by using different names, like Kumamon, Doraemon, Keisuke Honda, etc.

Prep Time (5 minutes)

After kids have a handle on self-introductions, start passing out the index cards and explain to them that they will make their own business cards today. But before they start writing, let them know it will be in English (cue the groans about writing in romaji). Some kids may need help with writing romaji, so walk around and help them out with the alphabet. It may be useful to put up a chart or write the alphabet on the board so kids know what to do. The Hi, Friends DVD also has a romaji page in Lesson 1 section of Book 1 which you can show on the TV if you use one in the classroom.

Some kids will inevitably finish earlier, so tell them to personalize their cards however they want. They can draw animals, sports, monsters, anything in the margins, to give their cards a more personal feel. Every kid should have at least 3, but it is up to you to decide how many you want per kid.

Exchange (5-10 minutes)

Once their cards are finished, perform a demo with the teacher about how students should exchange cards. Here you can modify the exchange in a variety of ways.

  • Extra phrases - You can add other phrases they know like "How are you? I'm ...", "Thank you.", "Nice to meet you." to make it a bit more interesting from just "Hello. My name is..."
  • Janken - Have kids play janken. While both kids should introduce themselves, the winner gets one card from the loser. The point of this is to have the most cards at the end of the introductions (which you decide on your own when to end).
  • Pair game - Shuffle up the business cards and pass them randomly among the kids. For any pairs of the same person's card, they leave them on their desk. The goal is to get rid of all the cards in your hand. After each self-intro, exchange any card in your hand with your partner, in hopes of finding a pair. This could go on for awhile, so feel free to end at your own discretion (and whoever has the least is the winner).

Pasting Time (5 minutes)

If you're using the Hi, Friends! book, there is a page where kids can paste the cards they received. The kids are usually actually pretty happy to collect cards from their friends so they enjoy this activity quite a bit.

Final Notes

While it seems very basic to have kids just say "Hello. My name is..." it really is the basic foundation from where English starts. It's not so much about the difficulty but rather just getting kids to speak some English. For many of them, it will be the first time, so it's important to give them a solid foundation to work from. Once they get this down, then they can start on the harder stuff!

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