Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Classes I Teach

In Japan, students begin learning English as early as elementary school.  It is obligatory and for many, it is the only foreign language they will learn. English is not an official language here, but since World War II it has been heavily taught and used. 

In elementary school, learning English is lighthearted and fun. Later, in junior high school, students spend most of their time on English grammar and vocabulary to prepare them for high school. Lastly, in high school students continue to hone the skills they learned in junior high, through continuous use of the language. An English essay is part of most all university entrance exams. 

Students in my high school do not experience English daily, but rather in a few different classes per week. Which English classes they take depends on their year in high school, and educational track they are on. Here is a description of the four types of English classes I assist with each week. 

Global English-I teach 10 identical lessons of this per week. This is a fun and lively class for the first year students. Myself and the other Assistant Language Teacher (ALT), David, in my school are responsible for most of the lesson planning for this class. Since David has four years of experience doing this, he comes up with most of the ideas and he bounces them off me. We work side by side with the Japanese Teachers of English (JTE), to make the lessons just right for the students. Each class is taught with one ALT and one JTE. I work with a few different JTEs during the week. I enjoy learning from them and their different teaching styles. This class is focused mostly on speaking and is conducted almost 100% in English. We focus on using the language, mostly to talk about global topics such as culture to expand the students’ world. For example, we are just beginning a long project in which the students will choose a country they want to be from. They must research their country to have the ability to answer questions from their classmates about that country. 

Science English-Students in this class have interest in pursuing the sciences in university and later on in life. They learn how to express scientific concepts in English. Currently, in small groups, they are working on long term science experiments which gives them material to write about and discuss in English. For example, one group is testing growing plants in different soils to determine the quality of the end result. They should be able to express their processes and findings in English. This is where I help them with the language. Many of the scientific concepts they are working with are over my head, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t help them properly express themselves in English. 

Practical English-This class focuses mostly on becoming a stronger problem solver and the subject matter is presented in English. Last semester, they worked their way through a text book that was based on numerous Ted Talks about current unique issues presented to humans today. Through it they learn English comprehension as well as speaking and writing abilities. Right now, groups of students are working on research projects in which they are looking deeper into an issue they see in their own country. They are creating spoken presentations about these issues that the will present to American students on their trip to New York City next month. JTEs are responsible for planning most of this class. I am present to help with proper pronunciation and offer suggestions to improve the expression of their thoughts.  

English Expressions- I teach three lessons of this each week with a JTE taking the lead. In this class students learn English essay writing. They practice good mechanics of composing an essay, while honing their vocabulary and grammar usage. There are a few different styles of essay they work on from argumentative to anecdotal and they receive prompts from their text book. We spend the first part of the class discussing the prompt, and in the last 15-20 minutes they must compose an 80-100 word essay on the topic. Examples of prompts include: Should grocery store stop giving away free plastic bags and Tell about an unforgettable memory in your past. Then, I am responsible for reading and correcting these essays by the following week to return to them. I get to learn a lot about the students by reading their work. In these classes, students tend to understand more of what I am saying to them. It has a more quiet and studious feel. I don’t have to exert as much energy and I feel that my knowledge of writing is more appreciated and put to good use.

You will see that these range of classes offer a variety in my week that makes my job fun, challenging, relaxing, and fulfilling. This schedule just happens to be perfect for my skill set. It utilizes my knowledge of the English language, writing abilities, teaching experience, and world experience all at the same time.