Week 27-28

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I received an email from the committee requesting some modifications to my ethics applications. I need approval urgently because, without it, I cannot conduct my preliminary fieldwork in August. I spent three days amending the documents on the basis of email suggestions from my second supervisor. I was so grateful for her prompt responses and support in these circumstances!

A draft of one chapter is due in 10 days. I am now back to where I am rushing to meet the deadline.

Last weekend, Luca and I went to a new Thai restaurant. Like Michelin inspectors, we scrutinised the hygiene standards, the service and the food, and whether the restaurant was better than our usual favourite. We decided that the latter is so much better. After dinner, we went to the cinema to watch Despicable Me 3. It’s so much fun, and they are so cute and funny!

My goals for Week 29:

  • Attend and enjoy the graduation ceremony for MA
  • Complete the draft of one chapter

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.


Relaxing Weekend

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Having read my supervisors’ feedback on my work, it seems I have managed to get over the first hurdle of my PhD studies. Now I can finally relax a bit and plan what I need to do by when over the next two months.

This morning, I read a novel (without a deadline, summary and references!) and ironed our 14 work shirts that were left after washing over the past two weeks.

After noticing that I was doing housework, Luca started cleaning the whole bathroom.

After ironing, I baked ‘cheese and pea muffins’ which I have wanted to make for a long time. When I travelled to Venice with Luca in April, we were invited to a lunch party at his relative’s house. His cousin’s wife made us the pea muffins for a starter, which was really, really delicious! All of her home-cooking was fantastic. When we left at the end of the party, she gave me the rest of the muffins, which we had with wine at our accommodation for dinner.

I found many recipes of savoury pea muffins online and tried one of them today. My muffins didn’t taste bad but they did not rise well. Maybe I added too many peas. I need to improve my muffin baking skills, but more than anything else, I am happy to try the recipe and to have such a relaxing and peaceful weekend!