Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Solo Act

My title here at GoChuu is ALT, Assistant Language Teacher. Starting this past year I work exclusively at my middle school, GoChuu, as the assistant to the English department. I team teach with the three lovely English teachers and we have a schedule that allows me to visit each class in the school one day a week. Because of that A in my ALT title, I don't plan, I don't teach (in the sense you're thinking) and I only sometimes grade papers. I love my school and the teachers I work with, but sometimes I want more of a challenge. I want to teach the kids without any sort of translator there for them to rely on. When I have conversations with the kids in the hall or at lunch, and they are forced to pull up whatever English they have, they can. I just wish it would happen more often.

Yesterday, Namiko, one of the teachers I work with, asked if I would mind teaching two of her Thursday classes by myself as she had to go to a meeting at her daughter's school. Of course I wouldn't mind! I asked her what she wanted them to do, and told her that if she told me I could make the worksheets and do it all. She explained that they needed to practice writing for a big English test coming up. She created the questions, I created the worksheet. We went over some of the details and I was off.

Write, Write, Write.
The kids flipped when I walked in alone. Cheering, loving that it was something different and exciting. I played off their excitement then calmed them down, did go-re(attention, bow; happens at the beginning and end of every class) and broke the news to them that we weren't playing a game. They booed. Sorry guys. I explained simply why Namiko wasn't there, and I could see the confidence on their face when they understood. The class was all in English, with with exception of a few words. The kids strained to listen as I explained the worksheet, going over the questions and what they were asking. Every time I opened my mouth I had their rapt attention, they knew it was all or nothing. It was great. They were to write for the entire class, which after explanation was about 35 minutes. They could talk to a neighbor for help if they needed it, and most of them need it.

A lot of Japan is appearance. If you walk into most classes here, they kids will be silent, head down, writing. But as all of us ALTs have come to realize, when it comes down to it, on the whole, what the kids actually know about a subject is much less than you would think. Though they appear to work way harder than any American class I've seen. In class today, I wanted to give off the vibe that this was fun, they could talk and joke, but they were to write. A few times I did stop them and remind them to write, and they did. They had fun, and joked with me, were silly, but all in all I think produced more work than they do in their normal class.

Question Starters.
Namiko didn't add these when we did the lesson earlier in the day,
I decided to add them as see what happened.
It made a HUGE difference.
In case you were wondering, 14 year old boys are the same the world over.
Look all you want buddy, just keep up that perfect grammar.
Star Student.

The kids were awesome and I think we parted feeling accomplished on both ends.

Flyin Solo,

[The Latest]

Must Read: Area Man Thinks Its Nice They Didnt Put the Prettiest Girl Scouts On The Box...from The Onion. First, you need to know that The Onion is a satirical paper. Second, enjoy your chuckle. 
Google Search: Off House
Tune: Drop in the Ocean By Ron Pope
Accomplishment: A very successful class, despite a massive language barrier
Obsessions: Making the worksheet for the students as explainable as possible

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