Posts Tagged NOVA voice

October 13, 2005 – Emergency beer

One of the teachers at Numazu NOVA cancelled on their shift at the last minute. During the rush to rearrange the schedule, Super Dave got stuck with 4 voice classes out of his 5 lessons.

Voice is the open conversation room where students of all levels can attend. Depending on the group of students, sometimes the classes just run smoothly by themselves. Other times the teacher is required to keep things moving and entertain the students. 4 voice classes with largely the same group of students would be exhausting!

Palmer and I decided that Super Dave needed some beer for surviving his crazy day, so we went out for a few after work. Beer doesn’t always solve problems, but it can help occasionally!

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April 14, 2005 – Expanded responsibilities

I have received a promotion of sorts at work. I am now the Voice co-ordinator at Mishima NOVA.

Voice is an open conversation classroom at NOVA that allows students of all levels to go and speak English. Most of the time the room is open to any type of conversation, but occasionally the branch will offer a special topic. I have done special topics on hockey, creating a resume, calling in sick, and some of the finer points of English grammar. Guess which of those I enjoyed the least…

As the Voice co-ordinator, it is my responsibility to make a plan for the next 6 months of special topics, and assign teachers to each of them. I had the same responsibilities when I worked at Kawasaki NOVA, but this time should be easier because I am now only scheduling 8 teachers instead of 23.

In other news: I somehow had another good kids class!?!?

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July 9, 2004 – New Voice Co-ordinator

Today was my first day back to work after my family left. I had 3 kids classes to welcome me back to the office, but they were all pretty good. I also learned that I am the new Voice co-ordinator at Kawasaki NOVA. The Voice room is a general conversation area for students of all levels. Occasionally the school will offer some specialized topics, including Club 7 (for low level students) or special topic Voice. The special topics are usually something related to one of the teacher’s countries, or teaching language for a particular task. My job as Voice co-ordinator will be to schedule the special Voice topics, and ensure that they are evenly distributed among all the teachers. I am pretty excited about it, even though there is no increase in my pay.

After work I went for Kiosk beers with Anzac. Usually we will get a can of Asahi or two and watch people in the station. Our highlight of the evening was a really drunk middle aged businessman in a suit who had peed his pants. When I say “peed his pants”, I don’t mean a few drops; he literally hosed down everything. I don’t envy the people next to him on the train.

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April 22, 2004 – Beef vs. Fish

Lunch Special at Cocochee Hotel

Everything screwy that could happen to a person’s schedule happened to mine today. I managed to survive, having to stay about 20 minutes after classes ended to finish all of my paperwork.

The one redeeming feature of my day was an excellent voice class. Inspired by a recent stupid argument with Phoala (I never have anything but stupid arguments with Phoala), I got the students to do a bunch of quick debates between trivial topics. First I gave the students a topic (baseball vs. soccer for example) then found out which side they supported. I then divided the students into teams based on their choice, adjusting the teams to make sure the numbers were fairly even.

The best debate of the day was “beef vs. fish”. Pro beef arguments included:

  • Beef is yummy. If beef was yucky we wouldn’t eat it so much. Nobody likes to eat yucky foods.
  • Everybody likes a big steak!
  • Cows also make milk, and that’s great!

The fish side countered with:

  • There are many types of fish, so fish has more variety.
  • Beef doesn’t have a long history in Japan. It’s only popular because of a conspiracy from America (seriously)

NOVA does not allow us to discuss any potentially controversial topics (religion, politics, etc), and even if we were allowed, I assume many of the students would refrain from taking strong stands one way or the other in order to preserve the harmony of the classroom. Having quick debates about topics of little consequence was a great opportunity for the students to practice stating their opinions in English without worry. It was also a lot of fun for me, which is a big help in getting through a busy workday with most of my sanity intact.

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April 3, 2004 – How to call in sick

Today was a good day for two reasons. The first was that I got to work an early Saturday shift. The early shift runs from 10:00am to 5:40pm, leaving the entire evening free. My usual late shift is a standard 1:00pm to 9:00pm. If there is anything fun happening on a Saturday night, I always show up about 3 hours after it starts.

The second good thing was a fun special topic voice class. Inspired by my recent cold, the topic was when and how to call in sick to work. We ran through new vocabulary for some common medical conditions and had a discussion on which ones would keep you home from work. Fun fact: Japanese people rarely miss work (or English lessons) for illness. We then worked on the dos and don’ts of calling in sick when you aren’t actually sick. Some examples:

  • Do have a reason that will make your employer want you to stay home – explosive diarrhea for example
  • Do sound sick on the phone
  • Don’t make up an illness that should have you in the hospital
  • Don’t use your day off to go somewhere public where you will be seen

It was a lot of fun for both myself and the students.

The only bad part about the day was that I was stuck on the smoking floor of the internet cafe. I now completely stink like cigarette smoke.

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March 13, 2004 – The Great Sasuke is not always a great topic

The Great Sasuke

Yesterday in voice class I had some success with the topic of “The Great Sasuke”. Masanori Murakawa, aka The Great Sasuke, was a Japanese professional wrestler turned politician. Sasuke was elected to the Iwate Prefectural Assembly in 2003, and refused to remove his mask when serving in office. In fact, he rarely (if ever) removes his mask in public at all. I got the students to discuss if they thought it was okay for an elected official to wear a wrestling mask while on the job. From there the students came up with a list of appropriate and inappropriate accessories for a politician, including jeans, sombreros, Elton John glasses, etc. The topic went well and the students got some good practice agreeing and disagreeing.

Today I attempted the same topic again with four different students. 3 out of 4 were really enjoying the topic, and the other student started giving answers like “I don’t care”. At one point I asked him a question and he looked directly at me, didn’t say a word, then started playing with his cell phone. I have never had such a strong negative reaction before. Maybe my student was actually Sasuke without the mask?

(partial rewrite of original post)

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February 4, 2004 – Worst Case Survival Guide

The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Travel

The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Travel

Today in Voice class (open conversation room) I decided to use the “Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Travel” as a conversation starter. The book gives hilarious, illustrated, step-by-step instructions on how to survive travel emergencies such as stopping a runaway camel, jumping from a moving train, and passing a bribe at customs.

After showing a few examples, I asked the students to think of a few Japanese emergencies. The winning ideas were losing a train ticket, not having enough money at a restaurant, and missing the last train home. I then got the students to come up with step-by-step instructions on how to deal with these situations.

This turned out to be a fun way to teach event sequencing (first do this, next try this, etc) and also some new vocabulary. The students had almost as much fun as I did. Some days I am still surprised that I get paid for this.

Remember kids: don’t get off the camel until it stops moving.

(partial rewrite of original post)

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January 28, 2004 – Free travel advice

Some of my friends from Winnipeg are thinking of coming to visit this summer and wanted an idea for things to do. So in my Voice class (open conversation classroom for students of all levels), I asked the students to form teams and try to make the best vacation for a bunch of Canadian university students on a budget

Yes, I got paid to have my students help plan a trip to Japan for my friends. Some days I love this job!

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January 21, 2004 – Avoiding the teacher

I had a student deliberately avoid one of my voice classes today, which was a bit of a blow to the ego. At the end of each class we have to ask the students if they have another lesson. This helps determine which files we need to get to another teacher. One of the students said no, she didn’t have another lesson, but she would be going into the Voice room for an open conversation class. I told her that I would be teaching Voice next, so that I would see here there.

During the 10 minute break between classes she went to the reception area and booked another classroom lesson so that she would not have to take my Voice class. Ouch!

After work I went back to Hello House and finally got to watch Pirates of the Caribbean. It was good, but could have probably been about 20 minutes shorter. I love movies, but living in Japan makes it difficult to keep up on the newest releases. Most movies take a few months to show up in Japan, and the DVD releases are similarly delayed. The result is that I can’t talk new movies with people from home. Oh well, a small price to pay for living in Japan.

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January 17, 2004 – Pandas speak Chinese, not English

Nova Usagi - the worst mascot ever

Nova Usagi – the worst mascot ever

The picture above is of NOVA Usagi (NOVA rabbit), the horrible mascot of NOVA’s language school. It is supposed to resemble a pink rabbit with a bird beak. The idea behind it was that the rabbit ears represented listening well, and the bird beak represented talking well. To me it looks like a mutated Pokemon that needs to be destroyed with fire, but what do I know?

NOVA Usagi is well known all over Japan, and you can’t look in any direction at a NOVA school without seeing it’s stupid face. At work I was teaching Voice class (an open conversation room for students of all skill levels), when I was suddenly inspired with a good topic; finding a replacement for NOVA Usagi.

There were 5 talkative students in the Voice room, and I asked them to come up with ideas for a new mascot. Many animals were suggested, narrowed down, narrowed again, and we finally had a showdown between the two front runners; monkey and turtle. I then broke the class into teams and got them to come up with ideas to defend their animal. After a brief debate, Shelly the NOVA turtle won. It was one of the best Voice classes I have ever taught, and the students seemed to have fun too.

On a side note, I asked why nobody had suggested panda, and all 5 students (at the same time) shouted “PANDAS SPEAK CHINESE, NOT ENGLISH!!!” like it was the most obvious thing in the world. I guess that’s why I have trouble talking to pandas.

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