Adjusting to high school life these past 6 months has been an incredible journey. Trained as a Graphic Designer, adapting to my new role as Assistant Language Teacher has been quite the challenge. While there is still much more for me to learn, I have developed These philosophies are subject to change as I gain more experience, but these ideals inform my current teaching decisions.
I actually learnt this while pitching to clients as a designer prior to arriving in Japan. Making a student stand while reading or presenting gives confidence and volume not possible while sitting. Standing opens the airways and allows nervous speakers more freedom to make body gestures and expend. . excess nervous energy. A normally shy and quiet student will often suddenly become audible to the entire classroom while upright.
Make it a challenge
Specifically, a team challenge. I was amazed to see students normally disinterested in English rushing to the board in Team Shiritori. An inherent competitiveness and desire to serve their team pushes students in a way that worksheets and textbooks cannot. I experienced a similar competitive drive When we played the bomb defusal game “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes”. Giving students the opportunity to prove themselves in a competitive environment is vital.
Admit to mistakes
Despite speaking English my entire life sometimes even I make mistakes. At times while writing and speaking at the same I’ve forgotten to cross a “t” or dot an “i” time in front of the class. I have found the best way to address this is simply admit my blunder and correct it.
Trial and error are vital to learning any skill and allowing students to see even native English speakers make mistakes makes the subject more approachable. Students unafraid of embarrassment from making a mistake are those who do best in English.
Never make it easy
As an ALT I’ve witnessed firsthand the eyes of disinterested students glaze over while facing unchallenging work. While work above the student’s level is frustrating, tasks below the student’s ability can literally cause them fall asleep. For this reason, I preference teachings on the more difficult side.
In the case students have been given too much of a challenge, we tackle the problem as a class allowing students to complete the task together.
Finally, don’t forget to keep learning yourself
Openness to learning myself has been essential to my position at Nihon Gakuen. Learning just a little bit of Japanese has made it immensely easier to communicate new concepts to the student. Eat x ”in class makes all the difference. I hope to stockpile more Japanese over the next year to better communicate with my students.
Every lesson I learn a just little more about how to operate in the classroom, I wonder what I’ll learn in the next six months.