I knew when I entered college that I wanted to go to Japan and teach English, but I was convinced I had to wait until I graduated in order to do so. Luckily, through another study abroad student, I learned about a two-day English Camp held by TUJ’s AEP (Academic English Program). More than the money (although, getting paid is a bonus,) I wanted to know what it was like to teach English in Japan since I plan on doing the same after I graduate. I wanted to take this opportunity by the horns, so I went to the AEP office, requested an application and scheduled a time for my interview.
A short interview and an application submission later and I was accepted into the program (やった！or “yatta” which means “I did it!”) But they wouldn’t just unleash us onto innocent freshmen. We had to prepare and what better way to prepare than to go through the training sessions. Here’s a recap of Day 1
The first training session took place on October 15th and with about 35 TUJ student participating, it consisted of providing introductions and basic information on what we’ll be doing. In pairs of two, we’ll be teaching four classes of first year students at Yamato Nishi High School in Shibuya. But what will we teach them? While we will be speaking in English, we’ll be split into four groups to teach one out of four topics: Trips and Travel, Food, Olympics, or Social Media. In addition to teaching the same lesson four times during the first day, those who will participate in both days will have two additional lessons to teach on the second day, one picture drawing lesson and one holiday lesson. Yours truly was placed in the Olympics group. To be honest, I wasn’t too happy about this at first. I don’t play sports (I didn’t even like gym when I was in school), so how can I teach something I know nothing about? All I could think was どうしようですか？(What am I going to do?)
After I received the lesson plans I realized I may have been getting a little ahead of myself. The plans were well written, easy enough to follow, and looked fun. The advisors for each topic met with their groups and walked through the plans, giving suggestions on what we could do. Overall, it would just be a matter of familiarizing myself with the materials and practicing. (See? I totally wasn’t worried about anything!)
Among the TUJ students, there were those who had taught English to Japanese students and were able to provide some advice from personal experience, such as:
1) Smile and encourage the students to speak English (even if they make mistakes).
2) Speak slowly and use short, clear sentences (keep things simple).
3) Use gestures as you speak (to help them understand better).
4) Have patience and give them time to respond (English is not their first language).
In order to practice some of these techniques, we paired off and were given a lesson on Halloween. We had to read over the material and then take turns paraphrasing the contents as if our partners were one of the students. This was a good exercise because I think as native English-speakers, we take for granted the fact that we started learning from the time we were infants so we don’t fully understand how difficult it is for non-native speakers to learn the same language. This is definitely something I’ll have to keep in mind when I review the lesson plans. I’ll do my homework, look over the lessons, practice how I’ll teach and prepare myself for Day 2 of the training sessions. Look forward to it!