Monday, 25 October 2010

Pulling Lesson Plans Out Of Your.... Mind

Hey there, campers.

So I was thinking today about what you can do, as an ALT, when a lesson is sprung on you last-minute. On Tuesday mornings, I meet with one of the JTEs at the school I don't like so much to "make an arrangement for lessons", as he likes to call it. While sometimes I have a week, even two, to plan lesson activities and games, sometimes he says to me "well, we need to do this topic in the next lesson (IN TEN MINUTES), can you come up with something?"

I know that other ALTs have been thrown into a room of students, like a terrified Christian into the lion's den, and asked to do something. While planning activities is all well and good when you have time (and the internet) at your disposal, what do you do when a last-minute lesson is sprung upon you? Flounder around like a fish out of water... or whip out something from your bag of tricks?

Monday, 18 October 2010

Teaching in Dreamland

"You can't be 45 and still working as an ALT, that's just sad..."

"I don't want to still be doing this job at 30. I need to go back home and get a real job."

"I feel like being in Japan is just delaying the real world for as long as possible."

These are a small selection of paraphrased things that I have heard from fellow ALTs over the past few months. It seems to be the general consensus that being an ALT is in many ways akin to being a student - it's fun, and it's fine for now, but to do nothing else for the rest of your life would be rather sad, if not a sign of refusal to grow up.

Now, this is an attitude that I can understand. I've done my degree, I've conducted quantitative research, analysed and written up the results, passed countless exams and written in-depth essays on a variety of topics. And here I am, with my Bachelor of Science from the University of Manchester, reading out "Do you like sushi? Yes, I do!" to a group of slightly bored twelve year olds. I can't help but feel, sometimes, that the massive tuition fee debts - which I will be paying off for most of my life - were unnecessary expenses. Years of knowledge and intelligence - the mind that I have spent over two decades carefully cultivating - seems doomed to disintegrate and regress to the level of a four-year-old who is just learning her ABC.

Friday, 8 October 2010

The Other Side of the Coin (and How to Deal with it)

So far my entries have been mostly happy and positive, showing Japan as a magical wonderland and depicting teaching as non-stop fun. Well, in many ways, this is true. But I wouldn't be the objective person that I try to be without telling you about the negatives, too. After all, if you're thinking about coming here, it's only fair that you have all the available knowledge at your fingertips, not just a rose-tinted dream. The higher your expectations, the harsher you may feel the realities. Therefore, I will try to highlight some of the low points - not necessarily about Japan as a country, but about the lifestyle of living here as a foreigner and working as an ALT. If you read it and you still want to come here, then I'm guessing you're tough enough to handle it. However, if it completely changes your mind, then I'm sorry to have burst your bubble. But life is life, and nothing is truly perfect, although I believe that the majority of your experience comes down to your way of perceiving things and of dealing with situations. Anyway...

1) Culture Shock!

Even if you've never been to Japan before, or even travelled to Asia, you're probably aware that it is a very different place from what you're used to. The food is different. The people are different - in dress, manners, language and values.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Tokyo Adventures

Ever wanted to know what your dog is saying to you? Well, now you can - as long as you can speak Japanese, instead!

This is just one of many interesting things that I found in Tokyo last weekend. Given Thursday or Friday off, I had a four day weekend in which to go and play.