I have been very fortunate to experience different areas of teaching ESL.

In Indonesia, I had conversation classes where I picked the topics and lead the discussion and I also taught grammar classes where I either followed a textbook or made up my own lessons.

In Turkey, I followed a specific curriculum, but was given the leisure to make up my own lessons.

Here in Japan, I teach an international course where me and the other ALT both, follow a textbook while being given the leeway to teach the lessons as we please, and also make up our own lessons.  I also teach at another school one day a week where I have nothing to do with the lessons and am really there just to aid the teacher.

It’s these experiences that allow you to see where your strengths are.  

I definitely prefer the lessons where I am given leeway to connect more with the students and make up my own lessons.  I just think I am way better at those.  My background and upbringing helps me relate more to the students at this level.  Whereas when I am teaching straight grammar, I sometimes feel like a bit of a poser because I’m no expert in those arenas.  I just happen to be a native speaker of English.

One thing that stood out about my master’s program was that they emphasized that we weren’t really just teaching English but working on developing the tools to understand the plight of the English language learner and using those tools to help them in their quest to learn English.  I feel way more comfortable saying that is my role teaching overseas than I do portraying the role of the “English Expert”

livingaseoulfullife answered: Its cultural not to question the teacher since they are seen as the fount of knowledge.

I understand that part but it seems crazy.  The teacher says “Tell me which words you don’t understand and we’ll go over them” and then you don’t respond and consult your dictionary instead and then lose points on the assignment because your sentences don’t make sense.

*shrugs*

I’m learning. I am a laid back teacher.  I always emphasize in my classes that you don’t get in trouble if you ask questions.  I let them know that I get more annoyed when you don’t ask questions and then get something wrong  That approach worked well in Indonesia and Turkey.  I guess I just have to create a remix for Japan. :)



Electronic Dictionaries

Hey other ALTs in Japan, do your kids use these too?  

I really think it’s a disservice to them.  From what I’m gathering, it doesn’t seem to give them a proper definition of a word, so they can actually understand what it means, but supplies them with a plethora of thesaurus alternatives. 

I’m grading these summer journals that the students did and some of these sentences are just crazy!  It’s like they replace a word that they don’t understand with another word that they not only also don’t understand but we don’t use in regular English.

One thing I am noticing that is definitely different teaching here is that the students don’t seem as willing to ask for clarification on something, instead they just consult their dictionaries. 

Maybe it’s just my students?  

It doesn’t bother me, It’s just a drastic change from what I experienced in Turkey and Indonesia where when I would speak with the kids and they didn’t understand a word, they would straight up just say “Teacher I don’t know that word.”

Thoughts?

I didn’t get many pics from the camp.  Japan has strict privacy laws about their students and posting pics of them on the internet.  

My school has said if I get the permission from the students, I can post pics of them but I think it will be easier if I just find other ways to post pics without showing their faces.

I’ve already successfully done that with my bunkasai pics that I took this weekend, but at camp I had just arrived and didn’t know better, so these are the only 3 pics you get.   LOL.

The first pic is of this Japanese dancer who did a presentation on Senegal.  She did such a wonderful presentation about how she was a professional dancer that knew nothing about Senegal and went there to learn about Senegalese dancing and developed a rich relationship with the people there and the culture.  She told so many interesting stories about her culture shock and the differences between Japan and Senegal.  She ended her presentation with some Senegalese dancing but I shot it from a shitty angle and got mad shadow, alas I cannot share. 

The next pic is of this game we played with the students where everyone had a piece of paper with descriptive traits and you had to do a lot of running around if your traits were called.  This is one of the other ALT’s, Jason’s, scrap of paper.  I always find it crazy how the countries I visit seem to use the word “fat” so freely.  They don’t think it’s politically incorrect to tell someone that they are fat.  In some countries it’s a compliment so they throw the word around very easily.  Correct me if i’m wrong, but I don’t think it’s a compliment here in Japan.

The last pic is pure hilarity.  My group of kids did a skit for the last day.  It was Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs.  It was a strange retelling of this tale because they wanted to exclude Snow White and the prince from the story.  LOL.  They got annoyed with me when I said that they had to tell everyone that this was a different rendition and they should change the title since everyone knows how the real story of Snow White ends.  In this version, the prince didn’t save Snow White, the dwarfs did.

They finally agreed to change the title to “The Kamogawa Snow White & the 10 Dwarfs.”  I was Snow White.  Check out my awesome costume.  I had one line, it was “Thank You.”  LOL.  The skit was really funny and the kids reworked it themselves.

Good times.

I meant to post this entry ages ago but I’ve been kinda busy, so the more detailed updates have gotten pushed to the wayside.

About two weeks after I got here, I participated in an international English camp in Kamogawa.  

It was such a lovely experience.  

I find that a lot of the overseas English curricula don’t have an emphasis on speaking and a lot of the kids get excited when they actually get opportunities to use the English that they are learning.

It was a 3 day sleep-away camp at this beautiful venue in Kamogawa.  Waking up to that water every day was a dream.  The kids participated in English activities and got to hear presentations about different countries from ALTs and international students attending university here.

One thing Kate and I pointed out that we really enjoyed about the camp is that it really was diversely international.  Sometimes you do these things and it’s a bunch of Americans and the native participants.  That’s just one country!

The kids got to hear presentations from Jamaica, Costa Rica, Mexico, China, Iran and Kenya.  

The presentations were filled with such variety and the kids got to learn many things.  I did 2 presentations.  I told them about my journey into this field and then I did a presentation on signature foods.  When in doubt, always do food.  LOL.  You can never go wrong.

My presentation was about the signature foods of some of the countries I’ve lived in or have visited.  The Chicago deep dish was the most popular.  That’s the one they all wanted to try.

The final day of the seminar, the kids got into groups and put on these skits.  They were all in English and they were hilarious.  

I’m a sucker for those English camps.  Sign me up.  I’ll always do it. :)

This is Kate. She is the other ALT at my school.  She is going into her 4th year as an ALT here at Togane High School.  
I pretty much owe her my first born or something.  
Me not speaking Japanese means she has to do all the paperwork and translate for me constantly.  She does it with a big smile on her face and is so awesome.
 I have eased into my life here in Japan without any hiccups and it has a lot to do with her.  
I’m lucky that we get on so well and we live in the same apartment building so I haven’t had to do any fending for myself. 
I am so grateful for her.
I also love having another ALT at my school.  One thing I loved about my stint in Turkey was having Dhouha with me to bounce ideas off of whenever we were lesson planning or dealing with any school situations we were not familiar with.  
It’s  also just nice to have an ally, period.

This is Kate. She is the other ALT at my school.  She is going into her 4th year as an ALT here at Togane High School.  

I pretty much owe her my first born or something.  

Me not speaking Japanese means she has to do all the paperwork and translate for me constantly.  She does it with a big smile on her face and is so awesome.

 I have eased into my life here in Japan without any hiccups and it has a lot to do with her.  

I’m lucky that we get on so well and we live in the same apartment building so I haven’t had to do any fending for myself. 

I am so grateful for her.

I also love having another ALT at my school.  One thing I loved about my stint in Turkey was having Dhouha with me to bounce ideas off of whenever we were lesson planning or dealing with any school situations we were not familiar with.  

It’s  also just nice to have an ally, period.

I’m grading the students’ summer journals and as I read their amazing, hilarious, insightful entries filled with teenage wisdom and disdain for any and everything school related, I am reminded how much i love being an ESL teacher.  
I didn’t have to teach any classes this afternoon and I have been thoroughly entertained for the past couple of hours. <3

I’m grading the students’ summer journals and as I read their amazing, hilarious, insightful entries filled with teenage wisdom and disdain for any and everything school related, I am reminded how much i love being an ESL teacher.  

I didn’t have to teach any classes this afternoon and I have been thoroughly entertained for the past couple of hours. <3

I’m new to the whole Japanese speech contest thing but so far I’m enjoying it.  

I guess my school jumps on the practise wagon super early so we’ve had kids coming in this week to get sorted.  

Some of the recitation stories are a bit strange to me.  They seem to be a modified type of Japanese Aesop Fable with a great message.  Still… it sounds strange to hear some kid reciting a story  about how the main character cleaned out his whole locker so that when he committed suicide his mum wouldn’t have to come and do it.