Saturday, April 14, 2012

My First Day of School

Yesterday was the first day my Communication class met. The class is required of second year outdoor life students. There are 13 students in the class, with a range of English skills. Japanese students have English classes in junior high and high school, but I’m told that these classes focus more on grammar and translation, not speaking and listening (communication). After introducing myself and going over the syllabus, especially the text book and grading, they were invited to tell their names and ask the name of the next person. We made name tents with stick-on letters in their favorite colors, followed by each person introducing a partner and telling the partner’s favorite colors. We will add to these name tents each week and use them as a way for me to learn about them and for them to learn more about each other.

My plan is for the students to spend the majority of each class using their English skills and not for me to be talking all the time, but this first class I especially wanted to listen to them and to see how much they understood to try to assess where they are with English. As an icebreaker activity, I gave them each a list (likes to cook, likes to sing, likes to ski, etc.) and went over the list to make sure they understood what each item meant. I demonstrated asking and answering the questions in English. If the answer was yes, I like to (whatever), they could write the person’s name down.  If the answer was no, I don’t like to (whatever), they moved on and asked another person. I walked around and listened, helping when needed. After everyone had completed their sheets, we talked about who fit each item. We did a few more things in class, then I gave them three things to do for next class (homework).  One of the things I asked them to do was find out the dates for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.  This will be an item for discussion each week, with the semester and the Olympics ending the first week of August.

The day before my class started, one of the young women in the university office gave me a little tour and told me some things I needed to know. I saw the bulletin boards with notices that I can't read.

I saw my class room, which is is #4.  In the front of the room is a little box where the students scan their student IDs to show they attended class, so I don’t have to take attendance.   She showed me the copy machine and how to record how many copies I make.  In the shared office for part time instructors, I could have a cup of tea or work at a table or store my things in the locker.  I live next door so I probably won’t need to store anything in the office.

In the office is a binder with calendar pages for each teacher to stamp with the hanko. 

After I stamped my page yesterday, I realized my stamp was upside down.  I’ll try to do better next time.

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