Amelia Loew: English Conversation Partner-Kyoto Bunkyou High School

For my CIP, I decide that I would teach English.  While interacting with children is not my strong suit, I wanted experience with high schoolers as I was considering applying for the JET program.  I also thought it would be a good way to step out of my comfort zone.
I ended up acting as a tutor for some students learning english at the Kyoto Bunkyou High School.  A few times a week I would go to the school and meet with a couple of high schoolers.  Since the school was only a short subway ride out of the way it was very convenient for me.  At first the students were a bit shy, but they slowly warmed up to me.  Still I found that I ended up doing a lot of the talking; my throat was pretty sore by the end of the hour.  I quickly learned that the best way to get through to the students was to ask open-ended questions.  Once I go to know them, they were really sweet.  Upon hearing that I liked matcha deserts, one of them bought me a special macha-chocolate cookie and a little stuffed manekineko (lucky cat) as an omiyage.

Once, I ended up speaking to an entire class of students who would soon be going to Australia.  Though I had initially anticipated that my job would be something like this, I wasn’t prepared that time and ended up simply awkwardly asking questions up in front of the board.  I really wished I had prepared some sort of lesson plan for that time, and changed my mindset to deal with students who’s english was a bit weaker than I was used to.

However, as the semester went on, I found that the school had a lot more breaks and times when the students were too busy to have conversation with me.  I would definitely recommend having a back-up plan for your CIP.  Even if it seems to be going well at first, things can change.

3 thoughts on “Amelia Loew: English Conversation Partner-Kyoto Bunkyou High School

  1. Amelia,

    It sounds like you really got some good teaching experience: everything from the awkward silences, to the regret of not having a lesson plan, to the best way to get students to open up in discussion to a sore throat from talking for a whole hour! After this experience, do you still think you want to go into teaching or the JET program? Did working in a Japanese classroom environment bring you to any realizations about the Japanese education system? In seeing these differences did you come to any conclusions about our education system in the West?

  2. Hey Amelia!

    My CIP was also English-related, but yours sounds more challenging than mine! I could image how difficult it was, since high school students tend to use not only Kansai-ben, but also slang as well as words and phrases from the internet. However, this CIP definitely sounds like a valuable experience to have.

  3. This sounds intense. Putting oneself in a position where students are hanging on your every word, preparing to emulate your vocabulary and mannerisms, cannot be easy. Are you hoping to do JET? What would you recommend as a back-up CIP? Was there something else in the same vein that you were interested in doing?