Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday classes

I have two classes on Thursday. One is Elementary school kids class and the other is Jr. High class.

Elementary kids class: I have only a boy and a girl in this class. 
The girl is 8 years old and has been studying English since she was 3. She can speak, read and write quite well and her comprehension is excellent. 
The boy is a year older than she is but he started learning English a few years ago with me. He is one of those kids with no enthusiasm. He was sent to my class by his mum, feeling hopeless in learning this new language. His 5 year older sister used to come to my class and she was one of the best not only in the class but also in her private Jr high school. She is blessed with brilliantly efficient brain, at least in Japanese education system where memorization is one of the core skills.  I suspect his apathy towards everything might be something to do with her excellency in the academic filed as well as sports. 
In contrast, this girl is fully motivated and seems to believe that she can acquire English. The difference in their ability is getting greater and greater for he doesn't do any works unless his mum pushes him enough but the girl enjoys her progress and doesn't forget to do homework. They both have busy working parents. 
I introduced them phonics and ER. It is amazing to see how much she can learn from those graded readers. But for him, reading is nothing but torture since he hates it. He is good at handwriting and his memory is amazingly vivid. All he needs is a bit of focus. He shows amazing enthusiasm and focus when he plays learning activities. 
I have just started to use a textbook designed for intensive reading for them. The book is a bit to easy for her but very challenging for him yet they both can read the easy and short articles and answer some comprehension questions with my instruction. This class is quite teacher-centered and I am not happy about that. But my goal at this stage is to get him understand the basic rules of reading and to offer him a chance to find something interesting in learning English. The latter is not so easy but I have been trying to find the breakthrough moment with him. 
I think having a fairly good reading skill will help kids when they enter Jr. High. In spite of some serious errors in English Education in Japan ( The most well-known one is very odd translation), having positive view on their English proficiency from the beginning has very positive results in most cases. This is also based on my personal experience. I always love English even as a subject at school because my embarkment to English education was so smooth and enjoyable because of the positive prospective I had towards my ability in learning English. The best explanation of this is my mum was an English teacher and she listened FEN (Currently it is called AFN) and the records of all kinds of jazz and soundtracks everyday. She never taught me English but I had sufficient English shower to feel comfortable with the sound of the language as I entered Jr. High. Plus I have already had a motivation to learn it, that was, to understand the meaning of all the lyrics I could sing. 
Anyhow, each person has a different way of learning. I must find a way for the boy.

Jr. High class: This is a dream class with all the enthusiastic students. They are quite top level at their school as far as English is concerned and they are quite proud of that. I don't really need to work on their motivation. I still want them to see English not as a mere subject but also a way to communicate with others using it as a common language. But having an entrance exam and all the pressure they feel, I really understand why they want to focus on tests such as Eiken. I often talk about the joy of leaning this global language, hoping one day they will realize what I mean. Perhaps this class is goal-oriented rather than process-oriented yet I can't complain so much since those students do their best in the class. The dilemma between ideal and reality can't be avoided I suppose. Nevertheless, there is always a way to have fun under any circumstances. For us is 8 to 10 mins game time at the end of the class. We do all kinds of quiz ( most cases about the content we have learned in the class) in game show style and enjoy short but fun time together. The laughter I get is priceless. 
This week, we run out of time because of the amount of worksheets to do and couldn't get the laughter. I must come up with better time-management strategy.


  1. Hi Chico,
    I opened my FB account after several months of absence and became WOW! to find a big news! Congratulations! I don't know what I should say, let me be just agape for a while, haha. It's extremely thrilling to see where you're heading for to make your dream come true, especially with Momo-chan^^

    I'd been down quite a while at the start of this year. Fortunately, the ache of my back diminished little by little, albeit a bit of numbness comes back instantly without taking vitamin B12 regularly, and I'm back to the ordinary life by now.
    From the last month, I'm teaching? English to three junior high schoolers at a small cram school near my house. The owner used to teach them, but since they're aiming for some high level high schools such as ICU, the owner had given up on the idea of teaching them by himself and asked me if I'd be happy to do so. You know, I have nil difficulties to do with long reading materials used for the entrance exams, so I gladly accepted his offer and have a class once a week now. All of three students are really vigorous and eager to do tadoku or tachou, so I'm having a good fulfilling time with them.
    I'm going to follow your blog with google reader, so let us know from time to time about your endeavor, will you?

  2. Hey!It has been such a long time since I met you. Oh, time flies terribly fast.
    I am so thrilled to here that you have started teaching(?) I often ask myself the same question. Am I teaching? lol
    Anyway, there is more to talk about and perhaps set up a open-secret meeting sometime soon. What do you say?

  3. I have enough time in November. Saturdays are all not available, Sundays fine, around lunch time on weekdays also fine.
    I have someone I'd like to introduce to you, a new male tadoker teacher-san in Oomiya and he's quite natural, not like other serious J teachers^^;.
    Let me know several days/time you're available, then I'm going to tell you which day we can get together. Good day!

  4. Hey. the best day for me might be friday since I have no class :-) Lunch sounds brilliant! any fridays next month :-)

  5. Hi, how about 11, 18, or 25 in Nobember? All Fridays.
    Where should we gather up? The person I want to introduce lives in Saitama, so Shinjyuku would be best, I guess...

  6. 11th is the best for me actually :-) shinjuku sounds really sweet and how about meeting at the sounth Kinokuni yosyo floor again? say about 11ish?

  7. Great! let's settle it on the 11ish..., reminds me of a baseball player Darubisshu, excuse me^^;, and I'm going to meet you at Shinjyuku Kinokuniya Minamiguchi-ten as always.^^ 'm Looking forward to it!

  8. Yay!!!!!See you soon. I look forward to it really really big time!!