WES students learning business, economics with ‘Monopoly Mondays’

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When I think back to my high school self, I see a girl who was often looking ahead to this moment--applying to be an English teacher in Japan--and worrying that the chance to do so would never come. As an English nerd who had fallen in love with Japan’s culture, I quickly realized that working as an ALT with JET could be the perfect combination of these two interests. Not only could I learn more of Japanese society first-hand, but also share something I love with Japan. For me, my interest in Japan specifically is due, not only to its fascinating mix of natural beauty, innovative advancements and a rich cultural heritage, but a society that still holds family values and respect in high regard. My goal with this essay is to explain what I feel I could contribute to the program as an ALT and why Japan is the place for me. I think my journey to this point stemmed from the same place it surely does for many others; discovering Japanese media and loving the stories told. Through this medium, I found a deep appreciation for the family dynamics, language, small town life, among other things. I found myself enthralled by the language. Though I'm by no means fluent, I have studied Japanese a bit off and on over the past several years. I have studied and practiced writing Hiragana and Katakana, as well as learning some vocabulary, common phrases, and numbers. I’m eager to learn so much more. Though I’ve never been able to travel to Japan, I did have the opportunity to travel with a volunteer group to the Dominican Republic and do a day camp for the kids of a small village. This experience pushed me in areas of communication, as I used all the Spanish skills I had to speak with the locals, so I feel confident that I can use the Japanese knowledge I have to adapt to life there and to be able to build communication skills with both students and adults. Along with Japanese culture, my other love is English. I'm quite a detail-oriented person, and I love perfecting grammar and punctuation. Attention to detail, especially when it comes to grammar, is important for a teacher to have so to accurately review the details. I was able to use these skills while in college as a volunteer in the English tutoring lab for a time and editing classmates’ papers in my free time. Since graduating, I have continued gaining experience through freelance work. In March of this year, I was hired full-time at the newspaper, The Cullman Tribune, as their head Newsroom Editor. Because this position also requires me to work closely with our reporters one-on-one, I believe this has strengthened my ability to instruct in a classroom setting. Though I’ve never worked in an official classroom, I have years of experience in babysitting, teaching Sunday school lessons for K-5th grade, leading at various youth events/camps and, more recently, as a teacher for a daycare program. I loved creating a productive and positive classroom experience, and I know these experiences have prepared me to continue doing so, if selected, in Japan. I’m excited for the prospect of integrating into Japanese life and helping students excel in their English studies, which I can do through my desire to better my Japanese and my experience in cultural flexibility. I think it is important for kids to experience different cultures as part of their formative years, and as someone who grew up in the Southern Appalachian region of the US, think I will offer a unique perspective on American life that current Japanese students may not be aware of. Our food, music, and pastimes are topics that will surely lead to more engaging conversations in the classroom. I’m also looking to the future at what the JET experience will enable me to bring back to the US. My hometown is home to a plant of a large Japanese company and as a result, there are many local Japanese families. I look forward to the chance to use my experience in Japan and in the language reach out to these local families more effectively and help bridge the divide that currently exists. I know how hard it can be to strive for good grades and the pressure that comes from all sides to be the best, but I place great importance on a positive classroom environment, one that encourages questions and creates an appreciation for the subject. I am certain that being a participant in this program will not only allow me to do that, but continue to make a positive impact back in the States by breaking down language barriers with tourists and expats. Above all else, I hope to teach students that learning English doesn't have to be stressful, but a positive experience they can carry into their future jobs and lives. Thank you for your time and consideration.


 CULLMAN, Ala. – There’s a reason Monopoly has remained a mainstay board game since the 1930s — it’s fun, challenging, and includes some valuable and fundamental lessons about economics and business. 
 
West Elementary School teacher Sharyn Hollingsworth brought those teaching points to her sixth grade class this year with Monopoly Mondays, where students jockey for Park Place and Boardwalk to learn a little more about how real estate and business works in the real world. 
 
“We have just completed a study of big business during the growth of industry in the U.S. in the late 1800s and early 1900s. We discussed the factors of production and the accomplishments of ambitious businessmen such as John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie,” Hollingsworth explained. “Students learned that Rockefeller used horizontal integration to build his empire in the oil industry while Carnegie used vertical integration to dominate the steel industry. Both men created a monopoly in their respective industries.” 
 
Hollingsworth was able to utilize some grant funds from the Operation Round-Up program to purchase five Monopoly games for use in her class, which served as a culminating activity for the course of study. 
 
“The conversations after playing the game were priceless! My money-hungry sixth graders quickly learned the best way to make the most money and ultimately win the game is to own key properties like the railroads, the public utilities and, of course, Boardwalk,” Hollingsworth explained. “As we reflected on our Monopoly Monday experience, I heard the same comments in every class: ‘The more railroads I own, the more rent they have to pay me!,’ ‘I think my investments will pay off!’ and ‘The more expensive properties bring in the most rent.’” 
 
Hollingsworth said the exercise allowed her students to acquire a better understanding of a monopoly in big business during the Industrial Age in the United States, and they learned beneficial financial life lessons — all while practicing social skills in a friendly competitive situation with their classmates.