Teach English in DonghukAifAqudawuchen - Wuhan Shi

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I work in two schools. I am an assistant language teacher at one commercial (low-level English) high school, and at an integrated (high-level English) academic junior high and high school. I have had experiences with different kinds of students, Japanese-English teachers, and classroom atmospheres. In Japan, students take an entrance exam to get into high school. If they scored low on the entrance exam, then they are placed in the lowest ranking class. Each school has a certain number of classrooms for each grade. Both of my high schools have six classes total for each grade. There are usually around forty to forty-two students in each class as well. Teaching forty plus students in a crowded classroom is difficult. And unlike many stereotypes of Japanese students, not all of them are polite, eager to learn, and respectful. This is how I discovered discipline affects motivation in Japanese classrooms. I do not have the authority to discipline. I also did not have respect in some classrooms. Key words: did not. I work with many different teachers, all with different teaching strategies. Some teachers are not respected in the classroom and are often talked over, mistreated, or ignored by students during lecture. In these cases, I get involved. I have had students flat out insult me in front of everyone in class and because this was Japan and not America, I couldn’t kick them out of class and tell them to go to the principal’s office. So instead, I brought their homeroom teacher to class. In Japan, homeroom teachers are more involved with their students than any other teachers. Students tend to listen to them more because they usually stay with them until they graduate. However, as a foreigner, I did not know that and asked the homeroom teacher for help. They apologized to me as we walked into the classroom together. I stopped having issues with that class after that, and was later told by the homeroom teacher that that class really respected me. They thought I was “cool” for taking charge. And as silly as this may seem, it makes sense that these students suddenly became more motivated to learn after they saw how motivated I was to teach. In Japanese high schools, participation and homework are not important. Attendance and test scores are. Memorization is everything here. I learned that if I assign homework, some students don't turn it in, and if they do they usually don’t turn it in when it is due. I’ve graded essays turned in two weeks late. This was a cultural shock for me, as I grew up in America, where if you turned in an assignment late you’d be lucky to even get a grade for it. So I never try to assign homework because I know it is not a top priority here. Because of this, I use it to my advantage. If I have a student(s) causing issues in class, I tell the entire class that I was going to give them a study guide for the oral exam, which we have throughout every semester,but decided not too since they seem ready for the exam. I've only had to say this once; never had to do it again. My students know I am here to help them. I tell them constantly that I want to help, but if they don't want it then that is okay. Homework here isn't really “home”work. It is usually meant to do in the classroom and reviewed again next class. When I assign it, it is always a study guide they can look back on for future quizzes and tests their teachers assign. However, sometimes students do have to hand them in. I correct their work and they use it later as a study guide. I do notice which students hand assignments in on time and the majority of them are either considered highly academic students or athletes. Of course the quality of their work is different, but the quantity is the same. It isn’t because of something I said or did. It was because of their coaches. My best advice for anyone teaching abroad: make friends with the coaches. Any student causing issues in class are usually involved in a sports club activity. Giving students no points for assignments won't help you in Japan; but letting their coaches know about their behavior in class will. Coaches will not allow those students to play in games or even participate in practice. This motivates better behavior in class and sometimes test scores. I truly believe that in these cases students study harder. Either that or they willingly decide to because they want to avoid consequences. I have had great English conversations with the least expected students: the baseball boys. In every high school across Japan, the baseball boys are the least likely to enjoy English class. A huge stereotype, yes. I am on my second year of teaching in Japan, and only recently started to get surprised by these students. I've had two different students from different schools willingly hold a fifteen minute conversation with me outside of class. They initiated the conversation and both were co-captains of their baseball teams. When it comes to teaching or learning a language, it isn't always about how well the teacher explains the material or how intriguing the lecture is. It is about how individuals take the information and make sense of it themselves. I have brilliant students. But not all of them are brilliant in English class. I have students who refuse to speak to me in class, but do outside of class. It depends on what is going on in and outside of the classroom. It isn’t something I can fix, although I wish I could. But the important thing is, is that that student still reached out. Regardless of being in the classroom.