The Silly Crown

by . Afni Kurniasari, S.Hum. (English Teacher)

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What will you probably do with a colander, one of housewares you might only use for washing and draining vegetables? To me, it’s like a weapon, to fight those who break the ultimate rule in my class. Everything is under control but one, to make them speak English. This is crucial in learning a language. It must be taken as custom, not only knowledge everyone just needs to digest and keep in memory. When it comes to mastering a language, how much your tongue works contributes a lot, as much as your ears and eyes do.

I had used some ways to make the students speak English, but they turned out burdening me and wasting time. Reminder like ‘Speak English, please!’ always ended up with ‘Oops!’ or ‘Sorry’—and they did it again next time. The point system didn’t work well either, especially to those who don’t care with good or bad mark. Direct consequence seems to be the best. I came up with giving additional task as consequence of the rule breaking. Writing a composition? Well, finally I had to spend time to check their work. And it was another job to remind the students if they forgot the task. Singing or telling story was another wasting-time activity as the class had to pause the lesson to pay attention to what rule breaker performed.

I was thankful to have a partner who thought the same way I did. We talked about our classroom problems, thinking of what the students don’t like. Teenage students always want to look cool,trying their best not to look or act silly. Then, we had to think of what made them look silly. Finally we decided to use the colander which later we name ‘the silly crown’. Also, I consulted the school counselor to make sure that we were doing the right thing, that the rule works without disrespecting student’s rights.

The rule is to speak English or speak nothing. The silly crown lands on the head of whoever speaks the language but English. This was hard in the beginning. Yet, it works the way I expect. Some try their best to speak 100% English while the other choose to speak nothing, the situtaion I wasn’t surprised at. I want them to feel how hard it is to survive if you can’t communicate in English. The less you speak the language, the greater chance you  will lose it. There’s no choice but to force their tongue to speak English. Any other options? Of course. Just three: 1) Keeping silent the whole lesson; 2) using body language to communicate; or 3) simply putting on the colander on their head.

Do the students feel ashamed? I guess so. You must feel ashamed of breaking the rule. That  makes one disciplined even though it’s impossible to always be . So far I am pleased to see that my students are mature enough to show understanding that if you break the rule, it means that you choose to take the consequence. Everyone takes the colander without trying to deny their wrongdoing. No complaint. No harsh words. There’s no need to make the culprit even more ashamed or offended. The lesson goes on without pause! And if in the end the silly crown loses its power, well, it is time for me to think over another thing.

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