TEFL Hamilton

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This is how our TEFL graduates feel they have gained from their course, and how they plan to put into action what they learned:

K.H. Japan said:
Several of the units from the ITTT curriculum state that, “young learners learn a new language faster than adult learners”. young learners are motivated by their innate sense of curiosity (Unit 19), and thus soak up new language ideas like a sponge. It is reasonable to assert from this pattern of behavior and opportunity that a great deal of a young learner’s potential for learning a new language, is realized during their elementary level education. This is what I assumed when I joined the japanese government’s “Jet Programme” and began teaching elementary level esl in japan. My placement within the Jet Programme is currently teaching elementary and junior high school english lessons in a small mountain village northwest of tokyo. I was one of more than a thousand new members, bringing the member total to more than 5,000 native-speaking english teachers. Since the japanese government was serious enough about english education to employ so many government workers, I made several assumptions about the local english program that proved incorrect. After a few months of teaching english and studying japanese, I began to ask questions about japan’s english education system. I was shocked to learn the following: 1. japanese students are required to take english classes from elementary first grade until high school graduation. The japanese education system is standardized for every subject. All prefectures have similar programs, with small variances from different textbooks. 2. High school and junior high school teachers are required to pass an english proficiency test. Elementary teachers have no level of english requirement to teach english lessons. 3. Despite the requirement for elementary students to take english classes, the elementary education program has no official textbook or curriculum for english education. a. There are no tests, homework assignments, or official lesson plans for the first six years of a young japanese english learners classes. Imagine my surprise when I arrived at my schools! There had been five teachers placed here before me, spanning a twelve-year period, but there were no traces of any previous lesson material! I could only guess what english my students knew and create lessons using previous teaching experience. This huge commitment of resources, without much accountability, is a half-hearted effort that creates significant problems for young japanese learners of english. Elementary teachers will sometimes refuse to participate in english lessons, even at times leaving the classroom entirely. These actions send the message that english is not important, which can quickly transfer to the students and create issues with motivation. This challenge can be circumvented in the lower elementary grades by engaging the learners’ innate curiosity (Unit 19). The higher grade levels however, will adopt an unsupportive teacher’s attitude without some form of organizational structure. This is why allowing formal tests and homework assignments could lend more authenticity to elementary english education. This negative culture towards elementary english education in japan is the most significant problem for young japanese learners of english. I have been using my previous teaching experience and the lessons from this class to create and improve my students’ early english learning experiences. My goal is to have a complete, and tested, full-year curriculum that the teachers after me can continue to use and improve after my time here. I know I probably cannot change an entire country’s attitude on my own, but this work will be my small part towards making some great kidsenglish experiences a whole lot better.