and then, we work

I figure we haven’t given you guys much about our days at work here in Japan and thought it may be about time.

Basically, we teach an average of 5-6 classes a day. Most are one on one, some are two to three on one. The classes are 50 minutes long. I also teach a few times a week to little ones…under 5 years old. There may be 4-5 of them in a class and those classes are only 30-40 minutes long.

Regardless of age, 5 or adult, a class runs very similar to this:

-2-3 minutes…conversation…whats your name, your favorite color etc. the purpose is to get the students to respond and then ask you the same question.
-10 minutes or so of an activity warm up. Depending on the level, it could be playing an ABC game and then reading a phonics book, singing the itsy bits spider and bingo, using pictures and making a sequencing story, playing 20 questions etc.
-5 minutes of checking homework: both workbook and vocabulary builder sentences based on words they have been given in previous lessons.
-20 minutes or so of a lesson where you introduce a concept based on their text and eventually wean them off the text to independent usage of the target language taught.
         For example…with a beginner, maybe the target language is “Can you…Yes I can…and No I can’t”
         So, using the text and CD you listen to the lesson and repeat.
         Then practice using the text
         Then close the text and use the whiteboard to write the target language…
         Using action verb pictures you ask the student “can you sing” they say…”yes i can or no i can’t”
         Repeat Repeat Repeat
         Then have the student alternate asking you the question and answering your questions.
         Erase the words from the whiteboard
         Continue sentence pattern until they get it.
-8-9 minutes, play a game with the kids or activity with the adults…matching or crazy 8s or one of the ton of games in our teachers room. Playing the game is meant to help with language. (For example: Go Fish, …Do you have? Yes I do. No I don’t Go fish, I have a match.)
-2 minutes or so left the kids get stickers and a snack and we say goodbye.

The best part about teaching at the school in my opinion is the one on one and the idea that you are working with a 7year old one hour and a 40 year old the next hour. Each person has a different goal, for example, Sunday I worked with an 80 something year old who just wanted to converse so she didn’t forget the English she knew. I worked with  man who is in sales and his company is expanding overseas and wants to get a promotion. I worked with 4 3 and 4 year olds who know colors and their abc’s mostly we sing and work on listening and basic speaking. I then worked with 2 young girls who are just learning to read. I worked with 2 20 year old friends who are studying English together…you get the idea. Of course there are plenty of students who are studying to pass specific country wide tests for either school overseas or a promotion in their company or just admission into a specific university or high school program.

I would say their are only two downsides: one is the small small small teachers room at one of the campus’s. You really have to squeeze yourself in the room and maneuver around all the other teachers trying not to get in their way. There can be as few as 2 other teachers or as many as 8 others on a Saturday.

The second would be that we don’t teach alongside other Japanese teachers. One of my favorite parts about working in Korea was that I was able to have daily interaction with the Koreans. My closest friends became my Korean coworkers. They really embraced me and brought me into their culture and life by helping me understand the culture, going to lunch, laughing and befriending me. Here we work alongside all foreigners from different countries. The Japanese are the secretaries and we do not have too much interaction with them throughout the day.

Overall, this is one of the best teaching classroom situations I have ever been in. I very much enjoy my time inside of the classrooms. Each room is set up as to be almost a study in itself. The kids rooms are decorated with beautiful wallpaper and toys to use for learning. The adult ones are set up as nice business studies.

Thats all for now, but at least you know what our days are like when we are at work 🙂


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