I must say that the demonstration schools these days are getting so much better. Even a few months ago they tended to leave me under impressed to say the least, but all the schools this week have been getting some great results with their kids. Today’s school was a huge open day with all 18 classes doing English, with lots of parents and visitors. I was asked by the Board of Education to pop along to meet some people, so for the first time in ages I went to school in a shirt and tie, no need for the Genki English uniform today!
The classes themselves were really good. The first few grades had picture books and songs, the third grade teacher was an amazing musician who had actually written his own songs! I wonder if he’d like to share them with everyone on here?? The other grades had things like bugs and stuff which was good, then the 5th graders were doing interview games and could speak a fair bit. So overall it was very well done, the kids were very active participants, the language points were correct and relevant, and the kids were speaking a lot. . In fact the only real criticisms I have are that in the older grades, the school was starting to copy a few bad traits from Junior High School, e.g. kids writing katakana on their worksheets, and teachers translating what the ALT has to say. These do need to be fixed ASAP, but the people inspecting the lessons also picked up on them which was good. The 6th graders were interesting in that they were talking about their trip to Nagasaki. There was a huge jump in level here, and it seemed like it had been pinched straight out of a JHS textbook ( mistakes and all). But each class approached it differently, and in one class the kids were the usual 6th graders, but in the other two the ALT and Japanese teacher were working together really well and the kids were having a ball, laughing and joking in English, which by all counts is great!
Then after the demo lessons it was time for all the visiting teachers to get together in the gym and have a “lecture”. And it was freezing!!!! It’s a good job the kids don’t learn writing in elementary school as they were all wearing coats and gloves in class. But at least they were moving, here the teachers had to sit still for 2 hours! And as usual in Japanese lectures half the people were asleep, and the other half looked bored to death. That’s one thing I heard yesterday, that people are always entranced when I do workshops! That’s because I’m always looking in people’s eyes, and at the first sign of someone not understanding something or not being interested, I back off and re-approach it from another direction. You’ve got to peak people’s interest, and then keep that interest alive if you really want them to learn something. The traditional Japanese way, however, is simply to go on with the script, even if it means nobody is paying attention. As someone who never has enough time in the day, I can’t really see the point in that!! So anyway, after the first series of lectures the teachers were expected to try out some activities and the very nice lady in charge of this bit asked me to do a warm up to try and get them a little less frozen! So in 5 minutes I did the main bits of the GE workshop, and they were shocked to say the least! But they were happy, smiling, alert and most importantly saying “oh, now I see”, which is the main thing!
I also picked up a few nice ideas in the workshop, one of which I thought would work great with one of the games on the site, so when I got back home I put up the “What colour is Christmas?” game! Enjoy!