Friday, August 04, 2006

English Lessons

When we arrived in Yamagata, we knew we were going to teach English. what I was not prepared for was that we had to prepare all the lessons froms scratch. I was told they had textbooks and that they had had english Lessons conducted before so I thought, "Fine, that means we can continue from where they left off." But no, they didn't want that style of teaching anymore and me being a prefectionist who needs to have a plan for every emergency in any situation possible was left feeling a bit panicky. I didn't know what their level was, I didn't know what they wanted me to teach, I didn't know how hard they wanted to work. Cos if it were down to me, and I paid for Japanese lessons (let's say), I would like to be worked hard at pronounciation, grammar, vocabulary, everything. But thankfully, Louise was cool with it and then I came down from my panic cloud and started thinking logically like a normal person. We had 9 lessons to prepare; 4 for kids, 4 for adults and 1 English Weekend away for everyone. We didn't really have to prepare for the English Weekend because it was more for them to enjoy speaking English in made up sketches (the Persistant Widow) than it was correcting them on their grammar. It turned out I didn't really have to worry; except when I was doing my Powerpoint presentation and realised the computer was splurting Japanese into my text. That was gradually rectified and now I can use a Japanese computer without hyperventilating. It didn't help that being the very thorough person that I was, I wanted to tell the class loads and I mean LOADS about Malaysia. I scoured pictures from Google for about 2 hours and whilst everyone was eating dinner, I was still typing furiously away. Perhaps I overdid it... Louise had 9 pages to show and tell with. I had 23 or something like that.

The first lesson for adults was a listening session. We talked about our countries, they listened and then had to ask questions in English. The next session had a speaking objective, we listened as they talked about designated topics about Japan then we asked questions and they answered. The third lesson was introducing them to English expressions such as 'raining cats and dogs,' 'cool as a cucumber' and 'butterflies in my stomach' and teaching them their meanings and ways of using them in sentences. 'Over the moon' was Yoshimi's favourite phrase. In the final session they had to talk, again, about further topics, which ranged from telling Japanese stories (in English) to recalling their school years and in them they had to use the phrases they had learnt in the session before.

The kiddie lessons were more repetitory and very basic. Why did I think that every kid on the earth spoke English??!!?? Time, weather, introductory phrases and days of the weeks were the main topics and songs and games were thrown in to catch their attention. We also had to make preparations for when we visited elementary (primary school to the rest of us) and high schools in Yamagata. I think in total, Louise and I have sung, 'Peace like a River' over 30 times.

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