Thursday, January 19, 2012

A+ Homeroom Teacher in Japan

The sixth graders at one of my schools are killer with English.  I love teaching that class every time.  I never get complaints like ''I can't do it'' or ''I don't understand''.  They never say ''why do I have to learn English?'' or ''it's too difficult''.  I'll throw anything at them and they'll always throw it back.  What makes the big difference?  It's their homeroom teacher, who is always trying as hard as he can to use English in the classroom.  

There are those that think the ALT spurs the desire of English.  They can only do so much.  In reality, it's the character of the Japanese homeroom teacher that helps generate this quest for knowledge.

I'm still fairly fresh to the ESL world but I've noticed that Japanese homeroom teachers who show any desire to learn/teach English have students that care much more.  In Japan, there is the custom or idea (I'm not sure which) of ''saving face''.  This basically means  you try to never make a mistake infront of anyone.  That idea makes language learning, entirely more complicated.  

Now if the students have a role model, who is not afraid to make mistakes; how does that change their perception on English?  It changes it considerably.  I have third year junior high school students (9th grade USA/CAN) that don't have an ounce of courage to read simple words. Contrast that with my sixth graders, most of which will attempt to read anything and everything.  

Maybe it's that they aren't to junior high and haven't been hammered by the 'machine' that is Japanese Education.  I tend to think it has much more to do with their teacher, a fellow Japanese person, unashamed to learn and make mistakes.  

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