Cynthia Vu: Assistant English Teacher at Ohara Gakuen

Every week, I go to a Ohara’s elementary/middle school to help with their English classes. Every week, the teacher puts me with a different grade level, so I get the opportunity to work with all the students. The school is very tiny with about 7 or 8 students per year, but it makes it much easier to remember the name of the students. During the class, the usual routine starts off my own self-introduction followed by questions from the students. The English teachers are in the room translating what I am saying just in case the students do not understand. Afterwards, the students themselves give their own introduction in English, and then we end the class with some activity the teacher decides to do. The students, contrary to my thought, are always lively and joke around quite a bit. They even play around with their teacher–which is extremely fun to watch and listen. I do not spend much time speaking Japanese, but I do think it is good listening practice since everyone around me speaks Japanese. It is especially fun listening to the different students speak and their style.
I also try to get involved with the students outside of class as well. Before the students start fifth period, which is when the English class starts, they divide into small groups comprised of students of different age to clean the classrooms. The teacher encouraged me to clean with them, so sometimes I find myself wiping the desks or sweeping the floors. I never cleaned my classrooms in school in America, so to see 5th graders vacuum the floor is really impressive. The teachers said the goal is let them become independent and learn how to be responsible–which I think they have definitely achieved.
Because I go to Ohara on Fridays, I end up spectating some special events as well. I got the opportunity to watch Ohara’s 文化祭, in English it translates into cultural festival. It was extremely to watch all their plays and performances; even the 1st and 2nd graders did great in their animal musical. It was just a really fun event where the entire school worked together to create a show for everyone to enjoy. Even the teachers performed in some of the dances and singing. I even watched the 生徒会選挙, which is their student council election. I really enjoyed my time at Ohara. I ended up learning a lot more about Japanese culture than I thought, so it was a really great experience.

2 thoughts on “Cynthia Vu: Assistant English Teacher at Ohara Gakuen

  1. It’s so funny that the teacher asked you to clean the classrooms with the students together. I also did assistant English teacher but I just watched students doing it.

    Since you mentioned that you mostly used English, how was the students’ English level in general?

  2. Teaching children sounds like a fun and rewarding activity! I’m actually curious though, what kinds of activities would you do with the children when teaching them? I’d assume it would be similar to the kinds of things we did ourselves when learning other languages when we were younger, like games, songs, worksheets, skits, and things like that.
    Also, though you don’t really speak Japanese there, have you had to explain English concepts in Japanese often? TO me it seems quite difficult since we know English implicitly, rather than having learned too many rules explicitly, other than maybe during an writing class.