This was not my first time here though. In fact, 13 months prior I had a similar stay for a translation and interpretation camp as part of a six-month correspondence course I took. This time I am studying Japanese Linguistics and Pedagogy, but the format is the same.
Day one was the standard check-in, opening ceremony and lectures, followed by a welcome dinner, but unlike last year's camp of about 200 students, this course had only 60 students, so we shared out welcome dinner with a group of Japanese civil servants who, like us, arrived that day from all across Japan to attend a two-day course as part of their own English correspondence studies. It was fun and interesting to chat with people both, Japanese and foreign, from all parts of Japan.
The next three days we were divided into five classes of nine or ten students and each prepared and presented our own mock Japanese lessons to the other members. Our teacher, Nagasaki Sensei, was a very interesting woman who used to teach Japanese in Kenya, and gave us lots of sharp and insightful advice. I ended up going last in our group, and even though I had the benefit of the nine people who presented before me and saw their mistakes, part of me thought teaching Japanese would be no harder than when I taught English, but it was incredibly more difficult! I am very forgetful and much more improvisational, so trying to stick to a textbook and lesson plan proved to be awkward, but the experience was definitely interesting.
|Oh, that's right. I rocked my Vibrams everyday!|
After we finished, we needed to create a presentation to give to other classes about what we learned from our experience, and what to remember when preparing a lesson. Two girls, Shannon and Halley, came up with an idea to do an Alice in Wonderland themed skit. I wanted to be the Cheshire Cat, but they made me the Caterpillar. Oh well. So we prepared for that until around 6pm and then I went to Kyoto City and had dinner with my buddy Sebastian (who btw, put my mom and me up for the night and made us Canadian breakfast when she came to Japan), which was great. The next morning our class met early and rehearsed some more (we had to go first!) but we nailed it and everyone seemed to like it. There were a lot of other good performances that day as well.
GOOD TIMES! I don't know if I will ever actually teach Japanese, but now I have a slight advantage over other people, not to mention it was great practice for my own Japanese and provided me with many useful resources if I do.
Now I am home in Hiroshima, but I have to work today and Sunday, so my one day off (Monday) I will be at home doing laundry all day!
Real quick, since I know my description was vague and weak on content:
Here's what I did well in my lesson:
I engaged the students directly and asked them to listen to my questions and answers all in Japanese (didn't use any English), and discussed topics the class would be interested in.
I got through review, and moved into explaining the new grammar points and lesson goals quickly, using colored markers to emphasize new words and structures.
I used to pair work and calling on students to drill and confirm they understood the new content.
Here's what I did poorly:
I made lots of small mistakes such as giving instructions using Japanese that was too difficult.
I was a little nervous and messed up the order, forgot to cover, or repeated unnecessarily certain portions of the content.
I gave two or three examples in class where my Japanese was just plain incorrect.
I didn't have enough time at the end of my lesson to let students be creative with the new grammar, which was the main point I was hoping to use so they would leave the lesson feeling satisfied.