Friday, March 05, 2010

Elementary school

Yesterday I went to the local elementary school to teach an hour or so of English to the first and second graders. Japan has always had English (of sorts) in Jr. high and high school but no one comes out speaking any English after 6 years of studying so the Education Department is hoping to add English into all the elementary school curriculum next year. There are already foreign teachers hired on a two year contract that make the rounds to all the schools in the district about every other week. I have never thought of applying for that job because I'd prefer to work in small groups and get to know the children. (And I don't want to do a lot of driving.)

But the neighborhood school asked me to come in yesterday and I had a good time. Sort of everyday English which wasn't very interesting but the way I was treated as an honored guest! I thought that was interesting.

At the entry to the school someone had written welcome greetings and ringing the intercom brought one of the office ladies to let me in. Although the other doors seemed to be open and children were freely going in and out, the formal front door to the school was locked. I was directed to the Principal's office and we settled into the deep sofas to enjoy a cup of hot coffee before my class.

Pretty soon a couple second graders knocked on the door and very nervously announced their names and that they were from the second grade, and then guided me down the corridor to where the class was waiting, (also nervously). I "performed" with exaggerated gestures and a lot of action and finally everyone warmed up. A fun 30 minutes.

After class I was led back to the Principal's office and served a cup of hot tea and a sweet bean cake (which I declined until the first grade class was over. I couldn't see trying to teach with my mouth sticky with sweet beans and omochi.) The first graders were shy and sweet and I think we all enjoyed the 30 minutes.

Again back to the Principal's office and I was served more hot tea, ate my sweet sticky bean cake, chatted with the principal and the two teachers who came in specially to thank me for giving up my precious time, was paid for the hour's work and handed cakes and Japanese paper gifts on my way out. Principal, vice principal and two office ladies accompanied me to the front door bowing deeply (me too!) until I was out of sight.

Hm-hmmm~ That was sort of fun.~

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