Ice Cream Expo
I work at a special science-oriented high school that is connected to a university. The name is rather complicated. In English, it is most often translated as "The High School Of University Of Hyogo". In Japanese, it is "Hyogo Kenritsu Daigaku Fuzoku Koukougakkou". Sheesh. Most people just say something like "Fuzoku Koukou".
|This is the school as I see it walking up to it each morning.|
Anyway, my school is different from most schools in Japan. For one thing, students who are admitted here have the option of going to the associated university without taking the dreaded entrance exams - a big plus. For another thing, the atmosphere is very casual. Most students wear uniforms, but they are not required. (A little weird, I think, that they would choose to wear uniforms.) Staff typically do not wear ties. It's Seattle-style business casual. Finally, the school is given much more latitude than normal schools in planning classes. For example, all normal schools in Japan are required to use government approved textbooks, but we are exempt from this. We can experiment with whatever textbooks we choose. Students benefit from this flexibility. Students also benefit from the small class sizes, around 25. Standard class sizes in Japan are around 40. Anyway, that's my school in a nutshell.
|Japan has a very complicated, mandatory system of sorting trash. These are the trash bins at school, each labelled with the appropriate type of trash. (e.g. burnable, non-burnable, steel cans, aluminum cans, washed plastic bottles, etc.)|
|It's astounding that a large percentage of people in my office have some connection to Seattle. They've been there or their son/daughter is studying there or whatever. Mr. Nishihata belongs to a yacht club with reciprocal privileges in Seattle, so he has been boating in Seattle.|
And, here's a run-down of what I'm teacing here. Note that all of my teaching is done with a Japanese
Teacher of English (JTE). In other words, it's all team teaching.
- Public Speaking
- Actually, this class is about English conversation strategies. It's about teaching the students
how to say "uh huh" and "mm hmm" and "oh really?" and "oh yeah!".
They use a fairly restricted English vocabulary and instead focus on having natural conversations.
The whole point is to avoid having students graduate with 5+ years of English education, but still be
unable to have very simple English conversations with foreigners in the real world. The class makes
up the bulk of my classroom time, but it is well established, so it doesn't require a lot of preparation.
- International Understanding
- This class is about culture and identity. It's probably the most fun of all the classes.
The students choose to be in the class. There's only 10 of them and they are generally engaged in
the class. We have real discussions, mostly in English. Later on, we'll be exchanging video letters
with students in foreign countries and looking at TV commercials from foreign countries.
- Elective English
- This class is an blank book. I can do just about anything I want with it, as long as it furthers the
students' interest and ability in English.
- Linguistic Science
- Linguistic science is probably the most interesting class of the four. We study
syntax, a subject usually covered only
in college. It is truly amazing to watch the students drawing sentence trees of both English and Japanese
sentences. The class is mostly in Japanese, but there is some English and I can generally follow along okay.
Since, the subject matter is difficult to explain in really simple English, my role is generally limited
to talking about the relative difficulty in understanding various forms of a sentence, or judging which sentences
sound natural. I have done some reading in a dense linguistics textbook in preparation for this class.
I'm hoping to finish the book
(Andrew RADFORD, Minimalist Syntax)
by the end of September.