I have chosen to be an English teaching assistant as my main CIP for this semester. Due to the discrepancy between the American academic calendar and the Japanese academic calendar, I was unable to continue volunteering at Kaisei Junior High School, and thus I joined an English-conversation circle (club) in Kyoto called Klexon.
I went to Kaisei five times. The first time, I felt that the class period was quite long, and by the last time, the it seemed that the class went by extremely fast. The most rewarding aspect of this experience was the conversations I had with the students; although during the class period, I mainly spoke English, before the class (during their lunch break), I spoke and shared my experiences with them in Japanese.
Interestingly, the Japanese students learning English in a classroom setting appear to have similar difficulties as English speakers learning Japanese. For example, verbs like ageru, morau and kureru, which all have a deictic fuction often marked by a preposition in English, are often difficult for students learning Japanese. Likewise, the students in the class appeared to have trouble with the prepositions in English.
I have only gone to Klexon twice, but I have already found it to be a good experience. The Japanese people in the circle are all there to improve their English ability, and thus they are very open with foreigners, and are happy to make new friends. For example, after the first meeting, I was invited to get some food with some of the other members.
This is a group in Tokyo? If it is, I think I’ll try to participate when I go to Tokyo for the summer. I’m welcome to trying to improve on my Japanese, and meet up with more people during my stay here in Japan can’t hurt.
Ahaha I made a mistake there; it was in Kyoto. Thanks for pointing that out! I’ve edited the post.
Klexon sounds really interesting, even though you probably end up speaking more English than Japanese despite your efforts to use Japanese!!! What are some other problems that they have with English? Actually, that’s too broad of a question. What I’m wondering about is namely the issue of ellipsis: in Japanese, the subject can go unmentioned altogether but that’s ungrammatical in English. It was hard for me to get accustomed to this, but I think it’s easier to learn to elide than NOT to elide. I’m wondering if that’s an issue that has arisen during your conversations. My second question is do you miss being an English teacher, or do you feel sort of indifferent about it because the fact that our academic calenders don’t match up can’t be helped? I don’t think I would’ve been really excited about finding a new CIP mid-semester if I had liked my first one, you know?
Despite the fact that it was an English-speaking circle, it provided many opportunities for practicing Japanese, particularly on the nights when I went to the pub for an hour or two after the meetings; I pretty much only spoke Japanese then.
As for the ellipsis issue, while most of the time the subject wasn’t left out, there were definitely times when half of a sentence was truncated, when it normally would not be in Japanese. This wasn’t really a problem for me since I knew what they were trying to say (i.e. what the rest of the sentence would be), but I did point it out to them.
I do miss being an English teacher; it was a lot of fun. But at the same time, I do realize that it couldn’t be helped, and so I didn’t fret over it. I’ve been quite happy with both of my community involvement projects.