Category Archives: EDUCATION

AoBT 07-Parental Problems (Stick Kid pt. 2)

There have been times since moving here that I’ve felt disillusioned about the Japanese way of life. It’s definitely not a perfect country and I’ve grown to accept the “that’s just the way things are” mentality… for the most part. I’ve put off writing about this for a while now because it’s a touchy subject, but I believe that it is very important and should be discussed. My newest student, “Stick Kid”, has had a lot of trouble adjusting to his new environment. He has difficulty concentrating, he has violent outbursts, and he just seems very apathetic about most things. This is normal for most new students. They often test their boundaries and see how far they can push their teachers and classmates. Usually this period lasts about a month before the new child adapts and becomes part of the fold. Stick-kid, however, still is experiencing difficulties. I was having trouble getting answers from the Japanese staff until it was time to make Mother’s Day crafts. It was then that I found out that Stick Kid, “Doesn’t have a mother.” At first I thought that his mother died, but was informed that this is not the case. Rather, it seems like his father took him and his older brother away from their mother. Their mother is from South Korea and after getting a divorce, the father took the boys and came down to where their grandmother lives. While I’m not exactly sure of the situation that led to the father taking the children from their mother, I do know that Stick Kid frequently talks about his mother and how much he misses her. In my opinion, this is probably why he is acting out. This leads me into a major problem that I have with Japan: The complete removal …continue reading


Introducing You: 6 Tips to Make Your First ALT Lesson Pop

Source: Gaijin Pot
Introducing You: 6 Tips to Make Your First ALT Lesson Pop

The first day in the classroom as an assistant language teacher (ALT) can be nerve-racking — especially if you don’t know how to conduct a suitable lesson plan. Usually, in your initial class, you will be introducing yourself to the students. This is your chance to catch their attention. Get students interested in the new ALT and make them excited about learning from you in the class.

In Part 6 of A Little Training for ALTs, we provide six ways to help you make that first lesson pop! — and set the tone for future classes.

1. Use visual aids

A good way to grab your students attention is to introduce your culture. Talking about where you’re from is also a good way to open their minds to the world. You may find that most of your Japanese students really don’t know much other than the type of cliché Western culture they’ve seen in movies and television. So try to bring some flashcards for everything you plan to talk about. Make sure the pictures are at least A4 size so that they can be seen by everyone. Flashcards are better than bringing the actual item as it might get damaged or even broken.

2. Involve students

While your introduction is about you, that doesn’t mean it should only be about you. Involve your students as much as possible. It doesn’t matter how energetic you are as an ALT, if your introduction is focused only on you, students will get bored and tired of just listening to you. Ask them questions and encourage them to take part. Say, “I like oranges.” Then ask the students: “Do you like oranges?” Try to get the students to participate in your introduction.

It doesn’t matter how energetic you are as ALT, if your introduction is focused only …continue reading


Kabuki & Art, Difference & Similarity

On Friday evening, I attended my first kabuki performance with my Practical Japanese classmates. During Discover Kabuki, a limited-time program offered at the National Theatre of Japan, a kabuki actor and an English-speaking TV personality walked us through the components of the traditional Japanese art before our show. Performed exclusively by men (although interestingly, it originated with women actors in roles for both men and women), kabuki incorporates elaborate makeup, costuming, and a dramatized style of acting. Both the on-stage movements and the dialogue were delivered very deliberately, with a great emphasis on sound effects (made with both a hidden orchestra and a simple wooden instrument called hyōshigi). This was certainly different than any theater-going experience I’ve had thus far. I felt very lucky to experience such a vital tradition with the help of an English audio guide, as well my language professor.

In this picture, a painted screen is descending over the kabuki set. The curtain behind it displays black, green, and orange – kabuki’s trademark colors.

Some of my best adventures have come from tagging along on my friends’ school or work assignments. This weekend’s adventure took place at Tokyo’s National Museum of Modern Art. For the very reasonable fee of ¥250 for college students (¥500 for full admission price), we traversed the museum’s four floors of paintings, photography, and other mediums by Japanese and non-Japanese artists alike. Aside from contemporary Japanese artists like Tsuguharu Foujita, MOMAT also had collections that featured famed Western artists such as Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock. This didn’t come as much of a surprise, considering that much of contemporary Japanese art, and contemporary Japan in general, is inspired by or viewed in proximity to the West (according both to my classes and a MOMAT plaque that I read). What I was surprised …continue reading


Culture, Language, and This Week in Tokyo Adventures

Somehow, it has officially been over three weeks since my peers and I arrived in Japan – in case you needed any further proof that time is a fake concept. Joking aside, it is hard to believe that I’m soon to be a third of the way through my TUJ experience. From konbini ticket machine misadventures to early evening trips to beautiful districts like Ginza, I feel as fascinated with Tokyo as when I arrived, and only a bit less vulnerable. Yet, even with what feels like base knowledge of language and Japanese life, I am adapting fairly quickly – to my commute to and from school, sorting through Yen coins (for which, up to the equivalent of ¥500 exists!), and even interactions with local people.

In addition, my TUJ classes have guaranteed I’m never deprived of knowledge about my host country. In East Asia & the United States, I’ve been learning about Japan’s past and current international relationships. Surprisingly, I’ve also found my Practical Japanese for Study Abroad Students to be at least just as much about Japanese culture as it as about language. Though this was not what I was expecting from a “practical” course, our studies on cultural elements (such as amae, Shintoism and Buddhism, wabi-sabi, and the Japanese school system) have been just as rewarding. I also think, revisiting what “practical” can mean, learning the culture of a host country can be just as important as learning language.

I’ve been trying to apply my cumulative knowledge about both Japanese language and culture as I continue to explore the city, while alone and with friends. This week’s adventures haven’t included any formal trips, but have been enriching nonetheless. Last Sunday, I visited Ikebukuro for the first time with a friend. After successfully communicating with waiters and ordering food …continue reading