Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Your First English Lesson

Welcome to Okinawa and especially the "Yambaru" -northern part of the island. It's your first day at shougakkou (elementary school), what might you encounter? Well for starters, you will be shown the way to the teachers' room. There you will be introduced to the staff. It would be great to have an short introduction in Japanese handy. Information to share would be your name, where you are from, and some interesting tid-bit about yourself (I like diving...). Short and sweet. If you need help preparing an introduction(Shoukai) in Japanese, I would be happy to help you. You will soon be escorted to the classroom or gym depending on whether they want the whole school to meet you at one time. You can also use the same introduction with the students.

Once introductions are over you will attend your first class. Classes are suppose to be team-taught. That means the homeroom teacher is suppose to take the lead and you are the assistant. If you are lucky, you don't have much to worry about on your first day but more than likely you will have to conduct the class as the lead because the homeroom teacher is limited or does not have any English speaking skills. Regardless, you must be ready for the unexpected and always try to keep a positive relationship. That relationship will be the key for your connection with the students.

In the classroom, you can elaborate on your introduction. Asking the students if they can locate the place you are from on the map is popular. Over sized, color pictures of your family, friends, pets and hometown are also interesting for children to see and spark-up a conversation. Also something simple as introducing yourself and saying "Nice to meet you" while shaking the hands of students goes a long way. You can spice it up by saying it in another language or in your local area slang or even giving them a high five (known in Japan as a "high touch"). You could ask them questions like what does the Japanese flag look like? What does the Okinawa Flag look like? What does the city flag look like? You will be surprised to find out that many students including teachers don't know the answer.

Teaching a local song or finger play or even your area language is also great to do with the students. There are many songs and games to try as well that you can play like, rock-scissors-paper, greetings train, mingle, name card game.

Well if you need further assistance please contact me at cesarinokinawa@yahoo.com or post a reply. Once again, welcome and enjoy your time here!

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