Archive for category Keikyu-Kawasaki NOVA

October 21, 2004 – Halloween Voice

Today I had yet another special topic voice session, this time at Keikyu Kawasaki school. The topic was Halloween. Japan doesn’t really “celebrate” Halloween (I don’t know if celebrate is the right word), but they know what it is. My personal highlight was getting the students to play pin the tail on the donkey.

(2014 Update) The NOVA Kids curriculum during October is usually Halloween related. One of the American teachers at Kawasaki NOVA went above and beyond with one of his kids lessons. He took the student (a 5 or 6 year old girl) to all of the other classrooms to go trick or treating. We all gave her flashcards with pictures of candy and other treats on them.

When both students and teachers are having fun in the classroom, it really helps a lot with learning English and job satisfaction.


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September 6, 2004 – Touring Noborito

Another schedule update at work. This month I will be working Sundays at Keikyu Kawasaki NOVA. Sunday is one of the busiest days, so it’s fantastic to be at Keikyu which is more relaxing than Kawasaki NOVA.

After work, Archie came back to the Noborito area with me. I showed off Hello House and we went for beer with Lux. A good time was had by all!

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July 29, 2004 – Happy birthday to me!

Happy birthday to me! I turned 26 today!

I got woken up in the morning with a birthday call from my parents. Lux gave me some presents including a six pack of Labatt Blue. I love Japanese beer, but it’s always good to drink something Canadian when I get a chance. Canadian beer brings back a lot of good memories.

Work was a very relaxing day at Keikyu Kawasaki NOVA. After work, the usual Thursday night karaoke became birthday karaoke. The regular Thursday karaoke group is usually about 6-8 people. Tonight we had about double that. I had the best of intentions to be sensible with nomi-hodai, but ended up having a little too much fun.

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July 19, 2004 – Six days and nine gates

My sixth consecutive day of work was a relaxing day at Keikyu Kawasaki NOVA. In the evening I actually got time to clean up my room. I also watched The Ninth Gate with Lux on her new massive TV. It’s about a 40 inch flat screen tube TV, which looks huge in a Hello House 5 tatami mat dorm room. I am thankful that I didn’t have to help move it up the stairs.

The movie was pretty good. I am not usually into supernatural horror movies, but it was well done and Johnny Depp is in it.

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July 15, 2004 – Return to karaoke

Today was notable for three reasons:

  1. I got my first full time paycheck! Much nicer than my part time paychecks! Yay!
  2. It was my first shift at Keikyu Kawasaki NOVA in 2 months. Keikyu is always more relaxing than Kawasaki NOVA. Also, most of the students actually remembered me and asked where I had been.
  3. It was my first time at Thursday night karaoke in a few weeks. Karaoke and beer = good!

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April 8, 2004 – Sprinting in a suit

Today was a chaotic day. The fun all started at 4:00am, when I was woken up by some drunk gaijins playing soccer in the street right outside my window. There is no grass anywhere nearby, so the sounds of the soccer players and the ball were bouncing off all the concrete. After about 5 minutes of listening to kicking and bouncing, I went outside and asked them very nicely to move their game, which they did. It took me about an hour to get back to sleep.

Before work I tried to get some Playstation time. While playing, I spilled a 600ml bottle of Coke on the floor. My lightning fast video game reflexes allowed me to pick it up very quickly, which caused Coke to spray everywhere in the room. I got Coke on my futon, couch, clothes, Playstation controller, CDs and stereo.

I got everything cleaned up and expected that the rest of the day would move along smoothly. WRONG. Just before leaving Hello House I got a call from work telling me that due to some scheduling issues, my first 2 lessons would be at Kawasaki NOVA and my last 3 lessons would be at Keikyu Kawasaki NOVA. There are 10 minutes between lessons, and walking from one school to the other takes about 5 minutes. To avoid a big rush, I left for work extra early, went to Keikyu Kawasaki NOVA and planned all my lessons. After that I went to Kawasaki NOVA and got those lessons ready. Everything was organized and there would be no panic.

At Kawasaki NOVA I taught one lesson then a Voice class, before quickly leaving the building and walked the 500 meters to Keikyu Kawasaki NOVA. When I arrived I saw that the schedule had changed, and I was now listed as having “break”. I asked the staff to confirm, so they called Kawasaki NOVA and found out that I was now on the schedule there, and had one minute to get back. Since we are fined for being late for lessons, rushed out the door and sprinted back to Kawasaki NOVA, wearing my suit and wondering how I was going to find out who I was teaching and how I would somehow pull a lesson out of my ass with no planning.

I dodged and weaved my way through the dense foot traffic and managed to get back in 3 minutes, panting and sweating. When I got inside I learned that I didn’t actually have a lesson after all. I got to spend the rest of the class period filing in the teachers room before once again leaving for Keikyu Kawasaki NOVA to finish my last two lessons. Good times!

(2014 Update) This is a good example of how disorganized the large NOVA schools could be, especially when they shared teachers with a nearby satellite branch. My job satisfaction increased a lot when I later transferred to smaller schools.

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January 27, 2004 – Interesting students

(Original post) At work I taught a kid that was really good today! Why can`t all kids be like that? I also taught a member of the Japanese Self Defence force and a woman who designs diamond tools for cutting silicon.

(2014 Update) The location of a NOVA branch will go a long way in determining what kinds of students will show up. Kawasaki City is a largely industrial city full of factories and heavy industry. The majority of students in the evenings and on weekends are all engineers. I have nothing against engineers, but it is nice to have a little more variety in the classroom. Three electrical engineers and one computer engineer who all work and live in Kawasaki is not variety.

Variety of students in the classroom, whether it be people with different jobs, people from different generations, people with interesting hobbies, or the always rare non-Japanese student, keeps things interesting for the teachers. English teachers are responsible for teaching as good a lesson as possible, regardless of who shows up to class. However, it is much easier to stay engaged and excited as a teacher when you aren’t teaching the same lesson to the same types of students all the time.

Variety in the classroom is also good for the students. Not only does it give students a chance to interact with people they might not normally talk to, it also allows for a wider range of vocabulary. As an example, imagine the discussion about weekend plans in a classrom with 4 salarymen as compared to a classroom with an engineer, a retired senior, a university student, and a stay at home housewife with 3 kids.

In my 3 years of teaching in Japan I got to teach a great assortment of different people with different jobs. My highlights include a Buddhist Monk, members of the Japanese Self Defence Force, a game designer, a few doctors, a hostesse, a miniture dollhouse designer, a very opinionated retired ballerina, and an awesome construction worker from Peru who was studying English as a third language.

If you have an English school and have any control over scheduling of your lessons, do your students and teachers a favour and try to get some variety in the classroom. It will benefit everyone.

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