Missteps and Adventure Time in English Club

For whatever reason I’ve been determined to show the American cartoon Adventure Time to my students. It’s one of my favorite television shows and I think the students would enjoy Finn and Jake’s childish antics.

Class really isn’t the place for it, but now that I have an English club I can show it then!

(This first bit is more of a how-to section, what websites and technology you will need, etc. Below it is how my English club responded to the cartoon and lesson. Scroll down if you don’t need the techie details.)

What I thought would be an easy task of finding a few episodes with Japanese subtitles turned into a desperate hunt for any episode at all. But I finally found ONE. Just the one, but I’ll take it!

I found it on this thread on reddit. After performing a similar fruitless hunt, user RampantWit decided to sub an episode himself. He subbed the first episode from the first season, “Slumber Party Panic.” He freely shared his hard work through Dropbox here.

Again, I did not sub this episode. I am simply sharing the link since it took me such an impossibly long time to find a suitable one.

The file is only the Japanese subtitles, not the video. Download the video however you normally download videos.

I use the VLC media player for most of my video viewing, so these directions will at least work for that device. After you press play on the video, drag the subtitle file on top of the video and they should automatically appear. If they do not, click on the video tab at the top of your player and scroll down to enable subtitles.

If you are like me, the subtitles will play too early. There is an easy solution to this. Simply upload the subtitle file to this website and set how much later you want them to appear. For me 36 seconds worked fine.

Next play the video again and drag this new file on top of the video (like you did before) and you should be good to go!

It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure all that out. Enjoy the fruits of my labor.

My students’ ability is pretty high, but throwing a lot of natural English at them, especially with all that slang, is setting them up for failure. I want them to be confident that they can understand some things, even if not all of them. That’s why I was so insistent on finding subtitles.

I wanted to ease them into watching a western show so I showed them a short introduction to the cartoon in Japanese. I found a dubbed intro here. That way they at least know what is about to happen.

My school isn’t too tech or wifi savvy so I downloaded the Japanese intro from YouTube onto my computer. It was surprisingly easy to do with this or a similar website. All you do is paste the video url into their box and pick whatever format you want. It will download directly onto your computer.

I decided to do a short lesson on American slang to go along with the episode. Here is a Word document of the slang as it appears in the show: Adventure Time EC. Make whatever lesson you feel is appropriate (simple matching, fill in the blank, assigning negatives/positives, etc).

All of those tricks and technology leaps worked without a hitch on my computer. No problems there.

But the thing is, is that just because you put in a ton of effort and came with full enthusiasm, doesn’t mean it will be appreciated.

To be honest, my students were less than jazzed by it. All that hard work and research really didn’t pay off because it was just too hard for them. Even with the Japanese introduction and the Japanese subtitles on the episode, it was simply too difficult for them.

Even the near native speaker (a science teacher at my school who is married to a Japanese English teacher) had a difficult time keeping up.

So I feel like we left English club feeling a little defeated. I want to empower my students and fill them with confidence, not knock them down to Japanese textbook English.

What I learned from this project: you can put in a tremendous amount of effort into an idea and feel clever and accomplished and a damn hard worker, but if it doesn’t reach your students then none of those things matter. You failed. What good is being clever if you failed to reach your students?

I’ll use this as a learning lesson and go back to the drawing board.



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