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For the purposes of this article, it's quite useless to go in-depth historic matters. All you really want to know is that after the end of the World War, borders of the country began to open a little bit and in a time it was able to go and finally visit Japan and see their exotic culture. Plus, that state of things made the information flow possible and allowed cultures to overlap. In a short time span, West fell in love with Japan and Japanese culture. Well – yes. That was a big deal.
It's actually impossible for me to tell what leaked first, but it seems that everyone is enjoying what Japan brought to us. I could talk about that matters endlessly, starting from philosophy and ending up with martial arts. Sadly enough, I don't have much space and time to write about the wholeness and additionally I have to be concerned with popular culture and how can it be used by modern English teachers.
Yes, pop culture. It seems that youngsters are mostly interested in it and there are countless aspects of Japanese pop culture. We are truly overflown by it, but let us pick three items to consider: Mangas, visual novels and japan animation movies, from now on simply referred to as anime. Let us start from the end.
I bet everyone of you has heard about the Dragonball movie(from which is an 3D version to be made). Indeed, we're talking about these weird Japan-imported movies with weird plots, ecstatic voicing and so on. The peculiar fact about them are big(and when I'm saying big, I mean big) faces and eyes covering at least one third of the face. Ridiculous, isn't it?
The successful implementation in the classroom is not the matter of just playing films before shocked children. Lots of them are fansubbed(I mean, they have subtitles in English made by fans); I can already say to you all who are losing their heads inventing new methods how to get English into people's heads: Let them watch movies they like subbed in English. In order to understand what's written below, they will just have to improve their vocabulary. Lots of the movies are free presentations so you don't have to bother about copyright(unless it's already licensed).
I'm not saying that the Japanese culture is for everyone and everything. Try it. Think about it and about tricks in your classroom. Then think again and decide if you like it or not, but you can't ignore that the Japan fandom is increasing rapidly and your students may be willing to check it out. Surprised? Yeah, myself, I have been, too.
Next thing are those visual novels. There is not much difference in the plot and approach as the visual novels are just a conversion of anime to computer games. Expecting lots of blood, gore and action? Forget about advanced graphics anyways. Visual novels are like books or tales you are able to modify with your choice. You just read the whole novel and, from time to time, decide, what should happen by choosing options. Again, there are plenty of free visual novels as the fandom cares about translations. For English teachers it's a great occasion because they can get students just reading. There are plenties of new words or some extended vocabularies. Smart ones have option to make visual novels themselves.
Comics are considered to be the most vulgar part of our culture and there were even doubts in some countries to make mangas legal(e. g. Poland). Some of them are free to read(visit onemanga.com to have clearer vision), while there should be some local translators or vendors which provide Japanese comics. What can I say about them? Mangas seem to be comic conversions of anime or visual novels, that's all. A smart teacher may encourage to read them in English.
Remember, your trump card is that the Japanese culture is exotic. I have never seen a man nor woman who was distracted by exoticness. Just make sure you can sell your ideas to the class and make them interested in the foreign culture. English language is an important tool in communication between East and West and if you do your job well you can even interest them in learning Japanese. Provide habits, landscapes, poetry and prose, haiku or whatsoever – if you can manage to make them interested, your work is done. Why? They will start learning for pleasure, not for grades or because they have to.
Of course, the procedure described above can apply to any country. I focused on Japan as this can be a good intermezzo between learning the history of Wales. People are mostly interested in weird and exotic. The weirder cultures you get, the bigger is the chance of attraction. Besides, myself, I think that learning about very, very foreign cultures is important to avoid culture shock. The world is becoming more and more global nowadays and having experience with other cultures is valued. And that's why you want them to discover Japan – in order not to get them lost in that all.
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