the nikku

reflecting on ESL/EFL and its relation to faith

Saturday, August 26, 2006

in the schools

my first week of teaching english has been a learning experience

the shift key here is broken

first a few notes on japanese high school. the students have a homeroom which they stay in all day. the teachers share one large office for each year, each teacher - except for me - teaches only one grade. grade and year are synonymous in this story.

the students are put in their homeroom according to their performance / ability the previous year. thus the homeroom name also reflects your ability. for example 3e are third year students who are exceptional, but 1a is a class of freshman who are below average.

another note, there are only three years in japanese high school, so third year students are seniors

there are various fees a teacher pays each month - none more than ten dollars. for example, i pay the english teachers fund which funds food at english meetings, trips, materials, training, etc. these funds also provide gifts if someone gets married, has a death in the family, etc. and the secretary of the dept keeps track of the books and does the purchasing - this is how my welcome party was planned and paid for.

my biggest problem in class is talking over my students heads. i thought i was speaking slow and simple english, but i have found that i need to slow down and simplify again. my senior students are very talented, and my junior high classes have a lot of energy. i like these classes because they are smaller - about 20 a piece - so i can learn all the names and have better activities.

but the freshman are harder. i teach all the freshman english classes, and they have neither skill or energy, and there are over 30 students in each class, so the room is already full before i get there. i am still trying to figure out how to test these students orally - or even have a fun activity.

there is a group of three older ladies who have been very nice to me. they are good friends. one is still a first year english teacher at my school. she has a daughter in paris, who has been studying abroad for 5 years now. her daughter wants to be a fashion designer. the other two are retired,縲�goes to the high schools church downtown, and the other lives in my building. they help me with a lot of everyday stuff. i gues its international, old ladies are nice everywhere.

well, my times up here. later


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