Who Cares if They’re Naughty or Nice?

Three weeks before Christmas, I initiated an ‘English Christmas Challenge’ for my students. The concept was simple…if they wrote me a Christmas story or letter in English, I would write them a reply and give them a small present in return. The only rules were that they had to write a minimum of three sentences and they could only receive two presents…any letters after that were purely for the joy of corresponding with me in English (ha).

Two days and 20 letters into the challenge, the teachers started calling me ‘Santa’ as I wandered the halls giving out presents from my Christmas stocking (it’s all about the theatrics…not the hundred yen gifts). With a total of 434 students, I started to wonder…had I bitten off more than I could chew? Come the end of semester, was I going to end up with carpal tunnel from hours of writing replies? Would I be rocking myself in the fetal position having nightmares about the 2nd year boys trying to pillage my stocking?!

I came to realise that children can be bought (quite cheaply apparently) and by the end of the challenge I had received 164 letters in total. I had been Santa to these kids and received letters from all kinds of students. From the ones who can write English in their sleep to the ones who still can’t spell their own names after three years of study. From the kid who never opens his English textbook in class, to the cute little 1st year girl who writes to me every week. The letters and the students who wrote them were many and varied, but in the end I realised… who cares if they’re naughty or nice? As long as they use English…

There were the cute letters with declarations of adoration and love…

There were the comments/pictures regarding my appearance…

There were letters about music (good and bad)…

There were the students channeling Yoda into their writing…

There were the sweet talkers (who were clearly only in it for one thing)…

Then there were the unexpected presents. Some cute…

And some not so cute (a picture of Arashi and a scrunchie)…

And some just weird…like ear buds these pellets that expanded in water?!

There were the letters to make me laugh…

There were the letters containing Engrish…

Oh and then there were the letters from the Gods…

And lastly, there were the hand made Christmas cards from my special needs students…

The experience was possibly more entertaining for me than the students but nonetheless, it got them reading, writing, listening and speaking English more than they would on a usual day.

While I am secretly glad I don’t have 20+ students writing to me every day, I was happy to receive these cards in the mail over winter break and know that at least some of the kids will continue writing for the joy of an English exchange with me…even now that the presents have dried up and Santa has retired…

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9 thoughts on “Who Cares if They’re Naughty or Nice?

  1. Wow, that was an interesting challenge. It’ll probably be difficult to write back to 100+ students but at the end of the day, I’m sure you’ll look back and be happy to have made such an impact to all those students. As the Japanese say, がんばれ!!

    • Once again, thank you for the kind words, I really do appreciate it. It was such a fun challenge and I hope it’s something the kids will remember long after I have left school.

  2. Your Rina one is a bit mature, isn’t she? Glad the blindness in one eye didn’t inhibit her writing 😉 How cute (and weird!).

  3. Reblogged this on Heart Set on Adventure and commented:
    This is one of the cutest and most funny posts that I have ever read. Although this teacher will probably suffer from all the replies she’ll have to write back, it is so nice to see, visually, the impact she has had on her classes.

  4. Your student that likes American Rock and Skillet is probably the coolest person in the school. You should tell them that. Either that, or the person that is very very like dog. I imagine it would be hard to communicate with someone that barks all the time.

    That’s quite the project that you gave yourself but it would be worth it for such gems as “please give me a love kiss ww.”

    Oh kids, they’re so entertaining.

    • It was absolutely worth it and don’t worry, the Skillet loving student and another that loves Linkin Park have been told they are my favourites, purely based on their music taste. Seriously.

  5. How adorable and lovely! Some of the messages written to you were so cute. Indeed I agree with your title! Who cares when the 100+ letters you received there can make you smile?

    Aw, how sweet! 🙂

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