Unfortunately, many students in Japan are taught that ‘almost’ in English is ‘hotondo’ in Japanese
Sadly this is not true, so over the years I have developed a short mini-lesson to correct this false impression and help students better understand the meaning of almost.
The lesson can start at any time, but it requires a trigger: one of the students must translate almost as hotondo.
Once that happens, I quickly go through the following steps:
- I point out that even though many teachers and textbooks teach this, almost is not the same as hotondo
- I pretend to trip, and then say “phew, I almost fell over just now”
- I ask the students to translate the previous sentence: “hotondo korobimashita” sounds really strange, so clearly hotondo is not a good translation here
- I tell the students I planned to go to Tokyo this morning, but ended up not going. “I almost went to Tokyo”
- “Hotondo Tokyo ni ikimashita” also sounds weird
- I offer two alternative translations for almost: mou chotto de ~ and ~wo suru tokoro datta
- I explain that hotondo is actually almost all in English: mou chotto de zenbu
Of course, this illustrates vividly the perils of learning and teaching vocabulary out of context, which provides another excellent mini-lesson for the students 🙂
Do you have any favourite mini-lessons?