Students’ feedback

I have received students’ feedback on last semester’s course. Overall, they are sweet comments, and I very much appreciate their acknowledgements, like ‘the teacher, and the material we focused on, made the course a highly enjoyable experience’. From my point of view, I believe that only students make a course an enjoyable place to learn. Even though I use exactly the same materials and perform in the same teaching style, outcomes always vary. This is because classes are highly affected by human traits such as motivation and openness towards other classmates and the new knowledge.

One feedback comment was especially useful; the students want me to provide a summary of the next session in advance so that they can prepare for the forthcoming lesson. I must admit that I haven’t been doing this important step between each class, and this needs to be taken up for the next semester. Some students did tell me that they would like to do some preparation for the next class, but I just responded by asking them to have a look at the course outline, which contains the class schedule and the contents due to be covered. But I now recognise that the information was not detailed and supportive enough. I will make sure that students have a brief summary of the next class at the end of each session, which should facilitate their preparation.


Summer Week 10

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I have finished all my teaching jobs for the summer semester! For the last class, I brought some snacks and juice, which we enjoyed for the last 30 minutes of the lesson. I was so glad to know that they really enjoyed the refreshments and didn’t have to just study the entire time, right up to the very last minute. My students gave me a card, a beautiful box of assorted tea, and biscuits.

For the past six months, since I started my language courses in January, I have had wonderful experiences in the classes, great interactions with the students, and good opportunities for reflecting on my teaching styles and learning. I made teaching plans for all classes and regularly made notes of how everything had gone. In my blog, I can see how hard it was to make teaching plans on the weekends while writing my thesis chapters. This experience has given me the best memories from 2017.


Outreach

I delivered five sessions on the Japanese culture and language at a secondary school. A total of 125 students in Year 8 (25 students in each class) joined the session, which was more of an interaction style between us than the presentation style I did last time. I fully enjoyed all the sessions with the students. I was so impressed that they willingly participated in discussions when I gave them a topic, and that I got a shower of questions from most of them throughout the classes. At least it seemed I was successfully able to break the ice!

We explored the Japanese Ninja, Samurai, Anime, food and language while watching five videos and looking at many pictures. I wanted to elicit what they knew about them, what they thought and what they wanted to know more about them. Things they were most curious about were Katana (the long sword the Samurai carried), Anime, Omurice (Japanese Omelette Rice), Curry Rice (Japanese curry), Karaage (fried chicken), and lastly the Japanese alphabets! For the last 10 minutes in class, we did some language activities, which they really enjoyed.

Some students were keen to know about how different the language is. A student asked me ‘how to say “I love you” in Japanese?’ I taught him ‘love’ and ‘I love you’, which he jotted down.

Among the food pictures I showed, Curry Rice and Karaage were the most popular. Yes, the combination of Karaage Curry Rice is very popular in Japan as well!

After all of the five sessions were done, a senior teacher of the school said to me, ‘You have done a decent job at a secondary school in England’, which made me feel happy and confident.


Summer Week 7-9

While working on my literature review chapter, I have also been trying my best for my classes. Teaching has turned out to be a good change of scenery for me, and I have been really enjoying it, especially for the past three weeks!

I came to show lots of contextual pictures and videos to the students, because I realised that it is extremely important to give the students much time to get to know the context, find words and phrases they have already learned, and find out what they do not yet know in the context. The girl who told me about her difficulty learning the language before attends class every week and has become motivated! Without her ‘complaint’, I would not have changed my teaching style and would have continued to pack a bunch of new information into each class. That sounds horrible to me now!

Another realisation of teaching is the relationship between us. I try to use instruction words carefully, such as ‘we are going to do…’ and ‘we have learned…’, instead of ‘you are…’ and ‘you have learned…’. To add to our intercultural atmosphere in the classroom, the teacher-student power relation undoubtedly exists to some extent. I want to minimise it, because making them relaxed is my teaching style.


Summer Week 5-6

Classes have been going well! The students (who have survived) are very keen to study grammatical points, as well as conversational phrases.

I have been feeling less stressed about teaching the Beginners course because this is the second round of teaching the same contents for me, and also the students are nice, honest and frank, which has facilitated our interactions!