A lot of changes have been and will be happening in the world of Lianne!
At the end of July, I finished my semester university contract in Nagoya. The three months went by all too quickly and I truly enjoyed going to work every day. Having such small class sizes (2-12 students per class) and seeing each student every day allowed us to get to know each other well. I learned so much about Japan from them as well! The last day was a goodbye party, which turned out to be a massive swarm of students wanting pictures and hugs after that session’s activity. Some even shed tears and told me how their confidence in speaking English dramatically improved. I didn’t know that my class had that impact on some students, so that is something a teacher always loves to hear. I miss them already! But it was time to move on to bigger things: Tokyo!
Onward to Tokyo!
As soon as I checked out of my apartment and said farewell to coworkers and my coordinator, I shimmied my way over to the big city. The bus dropped me off in the rambunctious business district of Shinjuku. Since I wasn’t up for squeezing myself and my life’s luggage into a train during the infamous Tokyo rush hour, I walked in the summer heat to Shin-okubo, AKA Koreatown, where I have been staying put for the month.
I’m living with a friend from college, his wonderful wife, and their sweet and funny baby daughter. Last time I visited them, she was just a few cells in Chi’s belly. She’s now walking, talking a bit in two languages, and doing a whole lot of giggling! Their hospitality and kindness has been over the top and I’m forever grateful for them. Adam met me here as well, so we have finally reunited after five months apart.
While in Tokyo, I’m grateful to have secured a job as an English teacher for a summer camp at an American school. English camps in Korea were some of the most memorable weeks while teaching there, so I was excited to have the opportunity to do so in Japan.
This camp is on a grand scale. About 2,000 students from all around Tokyo attend this camp (there’s a waitlist, too). Out of over 300 employees, about 20 of us teach English. I think I’m actually the youngest English teacher; most teachers seem to have been in Japan for several years and are well into their careers as teachers in international schools. I have been interested in seriously pursuing a career in teaching with the goal of working in international schools, so I’ve enjoyed hearing about their experiences.
The resource center is overflowing with classroom materials; it’s a teacher’s heaven. I went from having only a whiteboard, markers, and paperclips to having all of the books, craft supplies, flashcards, realia, games, puzzles, etc., imaginable. I try to use the materials wisely, but I still find myself not needing a lot to conduct lessons. It’s just much better to actually show items of clothes rather than just a flashcard of a shirt.
As an English teacher, I see each of my two (4th grade) classes twice a day. We have the freedom to do pretty much whatever we want as long as it’s grade level, so I appreciate the flexibility. It took a lot of time to plan the camp, but now that it’s in the second session, I’ve gotten most things down. Every morning, we do communicative games and activities surrounding new vocabulary for various themes (food, animals, rooms of the house, etc.) and in the afternoon, they work on a project of making their own city. By doing this, they solidify the new material from the morning (supermarket, zoo, dream house) and learn patience and teamwork. It was my first time doing such a prolonged group project and I was pleased with the results. On the last day, the parents came to observe and the students proudly presented their work.
Two counselors accompany the kids throughout the day, shuffling them to all of their activities such as swimming, crafts, music, sports, etc. They also are valuable in the English class. Most of the counselors are teenagers, so learning to work with them has been a new added challenge. Even though I’m not much older, I still feel a little distant from that mindset. I’ve also been reflecting because I recently got an invite to my 10-year high school reunion.
The youngins zap all of my energy and I’m exhausted by the end of the day, so I don’t do much after work. Adam and I explore Tokyo during the weekends, though. There’s always festivals going on during summer, so we’ve been chasing those and doing our usual strolling parks/playing chess/old people activities.