Amanda Mihovilovic: English with Kindergarteners

Nearly every week beginning in October of the fall semester, I began volunteering at Fukakusa Kindergarten. A small kindergarten nestled in a residential area on the other side of the Kamo River, I remember how nervous I was my first day! However, all the staff were extremely kind and helpful, making sure I knew what I would be doing with the kids. My time with the kids was comprised of lots of English picture books, random vocabulary the kids wanted to know, and lots of free play time!

I was pleasantly surprised by how enthusiastic the kindergarteners were! Every week they entered the room full of excitement, and would come right up to me to ask to play together or just to ask me how to say certain words in English. As excited as they were to learn from me, I approached every visit just as excited to learn from them. Although not in any formal capacity, through the children and staff I learned so much about how schools operate in Japan! From how snack time and free play time works, to just simply how removing your shoes inside the school is a strictly adhered by custom. I was treated with the utmost respect as just a student visitor, and I was blown away by how much of a positive experience my CIP ended up being. More practically, I learned a lot more about Kansai-ben! While this dialect is often heard in Kyoto, across the Kamo River it’s almost all you exclusively hear from the locals. Picking up Kansai-ben in my interactions with the staff and the students really helped me feel more confident in my Japanese as a whole.

My CIP experience is one I’m eternally grateful for, and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to participate in it thanks to the help of the KCJS office. Exploring an area of Kyoto I had previously never seen, interacting with a dialect I was unfamiliar with but wanted to learn, and simply being able to be around the cutest children I’ve ever seen are memories and lessons I will never forget.

2 thoughts on “Amanda Mihovilovic: English with Kindergarteners

  1. The photos from the kindergarten we got to see in class were so cute, instantly warmed my heart. It’s amazing how much you can learn just by immersing yourself in an environment, it sounds like your picking up on kansai-ben through your CIP is like a little microcosm of how we’ve learned while being abroad this semester. I’m so glad you had a good experience, and it sounds like the kids loved you! I’m sure they’ll remember this time with you as well, I know the positive impact is mutual.

  2. Sounds like you had a fun time teaching the young ones! Were the kids shy when they first met you or were they excited to learn from you and play with you from the get-go? Also, it is pretty interesting that you were able to learn more about Kansai-ben. I am curious, did the kids you worked with speak in Kansai-ben? I am trying to imagine what that would sound like….