Thursday, September 6, 2007

Teaching in Japan

Most of the teaching that we do here is with kindergarten-aged children. On Tuesdays, I teach at a Kindergarten name Aoyama. The parents of the students wants their children to know English, so they contract with my boss to have a native speaker come out to their children's kindergarten to teach the kids. The kindergarten isn't necessarily in on the agreement, so they make my boss pay rent for using their large music room and their teachers do not sit in on the lessons with me to help. It can be a little frightening. I have anywhere from six to eight three or four-year-olds in each class. Corralling them is a little tricky because I don't know how to tell them to stop what they're doing and come sit down in Japanese, and that's really the only way they'll listen to you.
Wednesdays I teach three classes at another kindergarten called Kogaku. Kogaku kindergarten actually contracts with my boss, so they don't charge us rent and their teachers do sit in with me and help keep the kids focused. I ended up about ten minutes late on Wednesday morning because I got lost (again), but they were very kind and sympathetic to me. They even invited me (formally, with a personally-addressed written invitation and everything) to their sports day at the end of the month. That is sort of like Field Day in American Elementary Schools. I am very excited to work with them.
I basically recycle the same lesson for each of the kindergartens that I drive around to on different days. This week, we learned about parts of the body and sang "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes." Next week, I plan to work on Colors and read some children's books to them.
Last night, I taught three small group classes for six to eight-year-olds. I went over some first words using flashcards. I set the flashcards down in piles of Toys, Animals, and Foods, asking the kids which pile each card went into. It took some of them a little longer to figure out than others, but eventually they all got it. After all the cards were sorted, I had them pick out their favorite one from each category and then practiced writing the words on the chalkboard. Next week, I plan to really focus on favorite things; I hope to find that song from Sound of Music to sing with them. During the last class in which I tried this technique, I kind of got the impression that half the class was bored out of their minds. I didn't want to get complicated because I want a sort of baseline for how to gauge my teaching; the problem is that I couldn't think of how to explain that to them. I will work on ideas of how to make these classes both educational and fun at the same time.
Today, I actually taught some adult classes. I loved the first two. My students all seemed well-versed enough that I actually had a fun time teaching them. I taught about the good, better, best heirarchy in English and when to use which word.
Hopefully things will keep improving. Amy keeps looking at online teaching resources for me. She is a great help. Now if I can only figure out how to print these things she's giving me.


Joanie said...

Hi Fox...How fun..and challenging. Have you taught the little ones "stop" and "sit" down yet? Is there anything I can send? Do you have to teach reading and writing along with speaking? I think they all go together.

How long is a session...and how many times a week do you teach a group. Too bad the teacher isn't in there with you so she could re-enforce what was taught by you.Good luck! ~Joan
PS.I sent your Wells Fargo stuff..

Andrea said...

Hi Fox,
If you're looking for some online resources, you should try for eBooks. eBooks are great for teaching abroad, since textbooks are difficult to come by and you never know when you may need a new lesson plan. Definitely worth a look!

Good luck with everything,