Teach English in Yueyang Zhen - Linfen Shi

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Taking a language class can be intimidating because students tend to feel nervous and lose self-confidence in the learning process. I’ve become aware of this through my experiences as both an English teacher in Japan and as a student learning Japanese. Creating rapport through personalized activities is a great way to ease nerves while learning a language and to build a relaxing environment for students. When I started teaching English at elementary and junior high schools in Japan two years ago, I created a self-introduction PowerPoint presentation that ended with a “Quiz Time”, where I asked students questions about myself that they had just learned. It was a really fun, interactive way to break the ice and set a relaxed tone for class from that point onward. Since then, I’ve started every class with personalized warm-up questions that review grammar covered in the previous lesson. For example, a couple weeks ago I asked my 8th grade class questions such as “How long have you played baseball?” and “How long have you known Miki?”. This not only reviews the present perfect tense, but also allows them to tell me a little bit about themselves. I think that they appreciate the fact that I’m aware of and continually curious about their interests. I know that they’re equally curious about me, so they almost always ask me questions in return. This communication during the first five minutes of class is a great way to start off the lesson in a fun, friendly manner. It also encourages students to become more comfortable with speaking, which I feel is the most nerve-racking aspect of English class. Giving students the opportunity to express themselves to the teacher and the rest of the class is important and helps them feel encouraged. Throughout each lesson, I like to keep the openly communicative momentum going with pair and group work activities. Worksheets that allow students to interview each other is a great way to establish rapport with their peers, and also exercises all aspects of language learning - listening, writing, and speaking. In my Japanese conversational one-on-one class, my teacher also uses personalized methods with me. She likes to incorporate information about my work life, vacations, and interests into the grammar that we’re learning. This especially makes sense for a conversational class, and it also makes my time with her feel more casual than a typical language class. It almost feels like I’m just meeting up with a friend for coffee because she encourages back-and-forth conversation. Before coming to Japan, I took a beginner’s class in Japanese that was very formal and admittedly quite intimidating. Besides giving our self-introductions in the first lesson, we never really had other opportunities to express our interests. I knew I had to continue learning Japanese after moving here so I’m pleased to have found a class that focuses on communicating my own experiences living in Japan. It has helped me gain confidence in using the language in everyday life. Her personalized, relaxed teaching method has made me feel very comfortable while learning Japanese and it has in turn inspired my approach to teaching English. I think that a language class isn’t successful if rapport isn’t established in the classroom. The point of learning a language is not only to achieve grammatical skills and fluency, but also to be able to communicate one’s life and interests freely with the teacher and fellow students. When a student feels like they’re not merely being treated as a student, but as a person with an interesting life outside of school, they’re likely encouraged to open up and feel comfortable communicating in class. Through personalized activities that create rapport, a teacher could bring out the best in their students and make them feel confident to express themselves in a foreign language.