November 14, 2010
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A lot of things have passed by that I haven’t been able to talk about. I have so many things to do that I can’t bring myself to sit down and blog.
Today is Monday here in Japan, and I have no classes to teach today. I still have things to do though. On Thursday and Friday I have to attend a mid-year seminar for ALTs. The head topic is supposed to be team-teaching, and I have to present a lesson plan that was “effective in having students experience a lot of language activities.”
I find it difficult to present something in terms of team-teaching because I haven’t done a lot of it. Unlike in junior high and high school, elementary schools don’t have a special “Japanese Teacher of English,” but rather a teacher who is in charge of helping prepare lessons for the ALT. I think the reason the majority of my teachers and I don’t do team-teaching is because I don’t ask them to help. Once in a while we might do a role-play, but it’s nothing really special or highly effective. The students have been learning and enjoying class a lot even without their homeroom teacher’s help. The most the JTEs do is translate my instructions when we don’t think the students fully understand.
However, I can identify one thing that DOESN’T help students learn English: Translating word-for-word. One 3rd grade teacher at one of my schools has a much better grasp of English comprehension (but not necessarily speaking ability) compared to the other teachers, so when I explain something in English, he can quite easily explain in Japanese. This is great for when I’m introducing a new game and have a hard time getting them to understand, but this constant translation has become something the kids are used to. Thus, last week when the teacher wasn’t there, I asked the class the same basic questions that I ask them every week (“How are you?” “What day is it today?” “What’s the date?” “How’s the weather?”) and they couldn’t understand any of it. It was just as I expected, because every time I say something, the teacher is quick to translate. And so I wonder if the children in that class even listen to me anymore.
But I can’t introduce a lesson plan on that. Fortunately, the supervisor at my other school is a 4th grade teacher and writes up the lesson plans for her class, and it’s the only class where I feel I really am the “Assistant” Language Teacher, and not the main English teacher. I’ll probably choose one of her lessons and modify it.