Posts Tagged teaching English to children

October 22, 2006 – Communication breakthrough

My kids students are starting to actually try to communicate in class!

Teaching English to kids usually involves a predictable routine of the kids repeating what I say (without always understanding) and variations on the same activities. At worst, the kids are checked out or disruptive. At best they usually go through the motions and might even have some fun. Kids actually attempting to communicate in English other than the course material is not at all common; it is a very welcome surprise and I’m going to do my best to keep this going.

Too bad I this happened right before I moved home and not a few years earlier!

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October 7, 2006 – Renovations during lessons

My usual Saturday evening teaching partner Molly was on vacation. Due to the ongoing teacher shortages in the area, I was the only teacher in the building for the last 4 lessons of the evening. Each of my classes was at its 4 student capacity, making for a busy evening.

During the afternoon, right before my group kids class, one of the branch staff decided to replace the filters in the air conditioning units in each of the kids rooms. I’m not sure why they decided to start this right before a group class – usually the staff go out of their way to avoid disrupting lessons. When the lesson started, there was still a ladder in the middle of the room.

Realizing that a bunch of energetic children in a small room with a ladder was a disaster waiting to happen, I decided to improvise and moved my group into the unoccupied Voice room.

In branches that have dedicated NOVA kids classrooms, these rooms are specifically designed to teach children. There are teaching materials on the walls, high shelves for anything that the kids shouldn’t get at, and a total lack of furniture. The Voice room was designed with adults in mind – there was a giant movable white board, tables, chairs, maps, and all kinds of English books and magazines. The kids were so distracted by everything in the room that the 40 minute lesson flew by. It was one of my easier kids classes ever!

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August 14, 2005 – Obon

This week is the O-Bon festival where Japanese people honour their dead ancestors. This means NO GROUP KIDS CLASSES! YAY! Thank you dead ancestors!

I found out today that I need to give 30 days written notice to move out of my Nova apartment, so I filled out the forms. I will be done with Nova accommodations as of September 15. I don’t officially have a new place lined up yet, but I do have some time scheduled with The Penpal to pick out a place.

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July 19, 2005 – No hands handstand

Today before work I picked up Harry Potter 6 on DVD! Woohoo!

At work during a kids class, one of the students thought it would be fun to do a headstand against the wall. He got into an impressive headstand position, then removed his hands so his entire weight was being supported by his head. His 5 year old neck buckled, and he fell to the floor in a heap.

For those wondering, a typical NOVA kids classroom has no furniture. Classes for younger kids feature a lot of moving around, with some sitting on the floor for textbook work. It is not uncommon for kids to be moving around.

I have seen kids throwing things, trying to escape the classroom, and fighting before, but I had never seen a kid try to do a no hands handstand before. I didn’t really know what to do, so I went over, helped him up, and asked if he was okay. He said yes, so I continued with the class.

As soon as I turned my back for a second, he was back against the wall doing yet another no hands headstand. The results were exactly the same as the first time, except this time he grabbed his neck and started yelling “itai! itai! (it hurts! it hurts!)”. I told him not to do that again in both languages. Moments later he was trying once again to break his little neck for a third time. I picked him up and moved him away from the wall while he was laughing.

I don’t understand children. Not at all.

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June 23, 2005 – Missing: the good kid

I spend a lot of time complaining about teaching English to children on this blog, but don’t get the wrong idea: there are some really good kids in the classes. I was even lucky enough to have a good group when I worked at Kawasaki NOVA.

Today, one of my favourite NOVA kids students didn’t show up for class. Why is it that the good ones miss class, but the difficult ones always show up?

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June 10, 2005 – Entertaining the kids with no glasses

Today’s schedule was pretty light on students, however I didn’t have any empty lessons.

During my kids class I discovered a new way to entertain the students. I wear glasses to help me see distances better, but can still see pretty well without them. However, if I take off my glasses and pretend that I can’t see anything, the kids think this is hilarious. I don’t completely understand it, but whatever keeps them enjoying the class (hopefully while speaking English) is a good thing.

The other major news today was that my holidays were approved for July!! Hooray!

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June 1, 2005 – Breaking up fights

There is a shortage of teachers in the area now, so today I had to teach a group kids class that I had never taught before. It was a Junior group, which had kids aged 6-9.

The class started like any other kids class, but I quickly realized that two of the students didn’t like each other. Let’s call them students A and B. It’s not uncommon to have some students (especially boys) teasing each other or poking at each other, but this is the first time I have ever had a student seriously attack another student before.

I don’t know exactly what set things off, but for some reason student A lunged at student B and started laying the smack down. I pulled student A off and tried to get him to calm down. Student B took this as an opportunity to verbally taunt student A, which just made things worse. A kept trying to escape my grip and get at B again. I was unable to get A to calm down, so I picked him up and removed him from the classroom. He kept trying to get around me and back into the room to keep fighting, so I called the Japanese staff for help. Even with the staff’s help, student A kept trying to get back into the classroom to attack student B again. They ended up keeping him outside the room for several minutes while I returned to my class, and then sat next to him for the rest of the lesson to keep him away from student B.

It goes without saying that this was not my most productive NOVA kids class. I had to write up the entire incident in the kids logbook. Every branch has a book to write about any incidents in kids classes, including fights or injuries. The kids logbook was a great way for teachers to vent, but I am not sure it was actually used by any of the staff for anything else.

If anything, I did manage to keep anyone (including myself) from getting hurt. Breaking up fights between children was definitely NOT in the promotional material for teaching English in Japan!

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