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My strange job 
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Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2010 1:46 pm
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Post My strange job
I've been working my job in Japan for about three weeks now and even though I'm woefully unqualified, I really want to improve as a teacher. My schedule is a little complicated: I do private lessons with people of all ages throughout the week. 3 times a month I teach 2 classes (15 kids each, age 4-5, 5-6) at a nursery school. 4 times a month I teach 3 classes (20 kids each, age 3-4, 4-5, 5-6) at another nursery school. 4 days a week a do a half hour lesson at a senior center (my youngest student there is 80, no joke), but they all have severe dementia and hearing loss and can barely pronounce Japanese so it's mostly just for fun I think.

The senior center manager said it would be best if the old people could just repeat phrases that might be familiar to them, like "hello," "good morning," "thank you," etc, so long as they have fun. They can't move, draw, dance, or anything like that. They can sing a little bit. Right now I come in, do a Hello song, sing a katakana english version of "kamome no suihei san," ask them their names, flash some cards about daikon and satsumaimo and the like, and then we have tea time. So, they like farming vocab and old Japanese songs and familiar English phrases. I'm worried that flashing the cards is getting boring. What else can I do?

I'm also not entirely sure what to do with the classes of kids. I just go in the room and "give a lesson," they don't have crayons or anything, I can't get the 4 year olds to get in line, heck I can barely get them to stop slapping my butt. I'm not sure if my predecessor taught them the alphabet at all. We do a hello song (which they are now quite sick of I think), start the day song, wheels on the bus, a little TPR, I call them up and ask their name or age (they are a bit shy some times), and then I flash some cards. There's a big gap in my teaching that I'm filling with flash cards at the moment and I'd like to do some other stuff with them.

Any advice would be much appreciated!


Last edited by lorax on Thu Sep 09, 2010 5:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Sep 08, 2010 2:19 pm
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
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Location: Nagano, Japan
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You can't say it isn't interesting. :D

Your constant "and then flash some cards" had me cracking up :D

For the older group, I might try some more songs. Beatles or Carpenters. What about simple crafts like oragami? Then flash some cards.

They don't have to actually make anything but you can.

Another idea is texture items to pass around and talk about. Anything will work really, just nothing sharp or with too much weight. Can they pass items around?


For the younger groups, there are quite a few posts in here about "crowd control". I think at this point, you need to get their attention and keep it. Work on teaching them something once we have that established. You'll have a hard time keeping the attention of any group of 3-5 year olds, but if most aren't paying attention, then we're getting no where.

What often works for me is a new toy that we're going to use. I might bring in a rope. I'll have it in my bag and get really excited. Show one kid quickly. Maybe he saw it, maybe he didn't. Now everybody wants to know what's in the bag. Get them all to sit down and then you'll show them.

Take the rope out and explain that we're now going to use it. "Who wants to help?" Hands go up.

Call 5 kids to the front and have the others watch. Now we're going to jump in, out, on, run around, grab, pick up, raise high,pull, push, let go, sit on the rope. After a little practice, play a quick game. If you are the fastest you stay and everyone else has to sit down. Then bring on a new group. Anyone misbehaving doesn't get to play.

Now pull out the second rope and you have two loops and half the class busy.

Those kinds of things get the kids interested and involved. Maybe just pull out a piece of paper, roll it up into a scope and start "seeing" things. "I see something blue." Kids doing a good job can get their own scopes and start playing. ...

These kinds of things work to get the students' attention and also can be used to teach them something as well. TPR and motion activities give them a chance to burn a little energy and gets them settled down for other calmer portions like flashing cards or reading time.

I definitely recommend reading to them if you can.

There are also some posts in here about discipline techniques and rewards as well. Maybe read through a few of those posts for some other ideas.

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Wed Sep 08, 2010 6:44 pm
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I like using fairy tales. Cinderella is the only one I know that has international versions, but they offer lots of teaching possibilities, including culture.


Thu Nov 04, 2010 8:54 am
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Well, now I've been contracted out to another eikaiwa for an additional 16 lesson-hours, pushing my work-week to around 50 hours with no overtime pay and no time to plan lessons. The preschools only get 30 minutes of English 2-3 days a month but they seem to have very high expectations. We have no textbooks for the private lessons so I'd been feverishly printing and cutting before every lesson but now I have no time. Trying to keep a positive attitude, but ehhhh....


Tue Dec 07, 2010 1:21 pm
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Wow! That's tough. I taught 40-50/week for about 2 years straight and burnt out. I thought I was doing OK and I probably could have kept going for a while longer. It was when the work load started to drop off a bit that I crashed.

The plus side was I was making more money for all of that work.

I'm down to a reasonable 25-30 hours/week and I wouldn't go back.

25 hours is a full-time work week. You have class prep and review you need to do for your lessons. The school should really hire another full-time teacher.

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Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:16 pm
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Well, I am definitely burnt out now. My boss told me "oh don't work more than 40 hours it's prohibited" but then they keep giving me more and more students. I feel like I have no recourse. Worked 11 hours on Christmas Eve, worked 6 day weeks December-March. I'm back down to 50 hours now (from 60 the past few months) but it's getting hard to stay awake in class, much less prepare anything useful for the kids. I'm going home in August but I don't know if I can wait that long. Too much to put up with for 15-man a month. Everything sucks!


Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:49 pm
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This is probably a little late to post, but just remeber the old saying i forget exactly how it goes but something like: be thankful you have all the stress from work bc other ppl wish they had chance to work" or something of that nature


Wed Jun 29, 2011 4:07 pm
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Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:57 pm
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lorax wrote:
Well, I am definitely burnt out now. My boss told me "oh don't work more than 40 hours it's prohibited" but then they keep giving me more and more students. I feel like I have no recourse. Worked 11 hours on Christmas Eve, worked 6 day weeks December-March. I'm back down to 50 hours now (from 60 the past few months) but it's getting hard to stay awake in class, much less prepare anything useful for the kids. I'm going home in August but I don't know if I can wait that long. Too much to put up with for 15-man a month. Everything sucks!



Lorax, what company are you working for, or where are you working ? They are taking advantage of you big-time.


Fri Jul 15, 2011 3:18 pm
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Bingo really works with kids of that age...... It starts them to recognise the words and associate them with the pictures.

Also you can incorporate bingo with story time to improve listening skills.... I change the story a little to incorporate verbs from the verb bingo game.


Wed Sep 14, 2011 5:44 pm
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