I’m always looking for ways to engage students and encourage them to participate more in class. Often you’ll hear the homeroom teachers saying “間違っていいよ” (It’s ok to get it wrong) in class, but still there are a lot of inhibitions for young people learning a language.
Over the years I’ve developed a system of making stickers and then giving them to teams of students based on their performance in class. I know a lot of teachers lament the use of rewards, equating them to bribes – but I’ve seen it work time and time again.
The process of making stickers is remarkably straightforward. First you need a series of images/pictures you’d like to use. I prefer using images from the popular chat program LINE for several reasons. LINE “stamps” usually feature popular anime/game/movie/TV characters which are a big hit with students, the sizes are just right for stickers and they usually feature little messages like “thank you”, “good” or “I don’t want to go outside”.
A quick google image search (LINE Stamp, LINE Sticker, *popular anime name* + LINE) or visit to the online LINE store will provide you with all the images you need. Copy them to a word document then print them using the manual feed setting. To do this on your Japanese work computer – in the print menu:
- Click “ページ設定”
- On the top tab, click “用紙”
- On both lists you want to click the option “MPトレイ” so it gets highlighted.
Next you’ll need A4 size label paper, which you can order via your school. Ask them for “A4ノーカットラベル紙” (A4 no katto raberu kami）. It should cost about 1,000円 for 100 sheets. I average about 35 stickers on one sheet, so cost wise that works out to be about 3.5円 per sticker. Load the paper into your printer and you’re good to go.
There are many different ways you can distribute stickers, but I find using a “blind box” and not giving the students a chance to choose gives a degree of anticipation as well as speeds up the distribution process. Finally, it’s always nice to talk to your students and ask them what type of stickers they want. It’s a great way to just communicate and they’re always appreciative that you took the time to make a request.