Archive for September, 2011

September 23, 2011

Sick in Japan

It is unfortunate that the “Sick in Japan” post has to come before the birthday weekend post… But with that said, I am grateful to be at a place in my life and in a country where I can afford healthcare. At the moment, I am stock-piling tissues and I can’t even smell Vicks VapoRub, so that’s how much my nose hates me right now. I have also spent the majority of the last two days in bed, feeling lazy, but oh-so-lacking in energy. And so begins the saga of getting sick in Japan!

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September 11, 2011

English Speech Contest

I apologize for the delay. I have been kind of scatterbrained lately, with the start of school and all. I am here to say that I have officially begun teaching! I first started going to schools for the purpose of speech contest coaching. In Japan, they hold regional, prefectural, and national English Speech Contests for junior-high and high school students. Since I am an elementary and junior high school ALT (Assistant Language Teacher), I worked with junior high school students to prepare them for the speech contest. The students must learn, memorize, and practice their speeches during summer vacation! I have worked with eight students so far, but I am only going to talk about a couple of them. And you will find out about those two at the end. :)

I was unprepared for the first time a student called me “sensei” (which means teacher in Japanese). It happened when was concentrating on reading a student’s speech to myself in my head. I think I heard him say “Sensei?” but I must have thought that he was talking to his Japanese teacher who was also in the room. I didn’t look up or turn around. Next the student touched me lightly on the shoulder and asked again, “Sensei?”  This time I turned and looked at him, realizing that he was looking straight at me and trying to get my attention. And that’s when I realized I was a teacher. Call me Stacy-sensei.

The speech coaching sessions, for the most part, were of the same format. I arrived at the school, met with the students and JTEs (Japanese Teachers of English), and got down to business. The students read their speeches to me for the first time so I could listen and write down my comments. Some of them had memorized the whole thing already and some hadn’t even started. After the first reading, I shared my comments with them and worked on pronunciation, word choice, pacing, and ways to make their speech sound more natural. You just can’t have the soulless monotone thing going on, especially when you are making a speech about your hobby or something. The JTEs also learned from my coaching, since their study of English is an ongoing work-in-progress as well. They practiced their pronunciation too, so it was fun for me to teach with them. They were all very nice and fun to work with.

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