There wasn’t really a whole lot going on in November, so there isn’t very much to talk about. The two major events that took place this month was that I started my elementary school visits and that I participated in a weekend long English seminar teaching high school students.
As I mentioned before I teach at two main junior high schools. My base school three times a week, and my visiting school twice a week. That being said, I also visit the four elementary schools in my area once a term. So in a year, I will visit each elementary school three times.
What I’ve learned from my elementary school visits is that Japanese elementary school students are super adorable little energy suckers. Seriously, their genki levels are off the charts, which is a nice change to the “too cool for school” attitude my junior high kids can get. The atmosphere in elementary school is different too. Unlike junior high school, elementary schools are super laid back. Neither the teachers nor the students seemed the least bit stressed out. My favorite part of my visits was when I would catch the principals playing with the students during the passing periods.
Now, this could be a completely skewed opinion considering I only worked with high school students from one school and they were all taking the English course so their interest in English was obviously high, but boy do I love high school students.
Honestly, this group of kids was everything I was hoping for when I came to work in Japan. You see, I requested to work at a high school but got placed at a junior high school. I wasn’t too upset with the decision because I was under the impression that Japanese students, like Korean students, started learning English in elementary school. That means when they reached junior high school, they would have a pretty decent handle on the English language. Well, I was wrong.
Unlike Korea where serious English education starts in the 3rd grade, in Japan it starts in the 7th grade. So I was basically stuck in the same boat of teaching beginner English. Well actually a little worse considering I had 5th grade Korean students whose English level surpassed that of most of my Japanese 9th graders. The biggest difference between them is that elementary school students aren’t shy, so mistakes or no mistakes, my Korean kids tried to speak English. Getting my junior high students to speak English is like pulling teeth.
Basically what I’m trying to get at was that I, for once, wanted to be able to really communicate with my students and build relationships. I didn’t really get that opportunity in Korea, I’m definitely not getting it at my current school, but with those high school students, I finally had my chance. And they did not disappoint.
I had such a good time at the English seminar and I can only sing praises about those kids. If nothing else, that experience solidified my desire to work with higher level students.
But, we’ll see if that ever happens.