Thursday, 21 July 2011

Interacting with Interac

I applied for a job with Interac, the biggest private organisation that puts ALTs into schools. The position I want is teaching at high schools in my area — a position that recently opened up when the previous ALT — who, along with his wife, is also a friend of ours — handed in his notice and relocated, soon to return to the US.

I am in the middle of the application process. I have had a phone interview, but tonight I have a face-to-face video interview. Last night, I made a teaching demonstration video to submit. I'll pop that up on the blog when I have the means.

So, it's all going ahead. Prayer and determination will see this through and me successfully welcomed into a position that is ideal.

We shifted house last weekend. We had a lot of help from Ps. Taniguchi and his wife, and Mika's dad. We got everything shifted over and the old house completely cleaned. It's been difficult to try and set everything up in the new house, but we are pacing ourselves as we try and unpack and sort through everything, and work out what to put where.

As yet, we haven't got an internet connection at home. That means I will be setting up at the old (empty) place tonight for my interview, since there is still both power and an active cable internet connection there. We are trying to get ADSL hitched up, but so far haven't even found out when that will be activated, or with whom.

As for cable TV; well, we are going to get cable installed (at a fairly large cost), but the installation won't take place until October. So until then, I guess we try and hook the TV up to a regular aerial. I dunno if that will do anything, as so far we haven't tried. Heck, I haven't even set up the home theatre system yet!

There was a farewell nomikai last week with the main office in K-town, which I attended. And there is a local welcoming/farewell one next month for the new ALT and myself to attend.

I filled out a survey for leaving JETs. Following are the comments I wrote at the end of the survey:

"Educate all shougakkou teachers a lot more about what JET and its ALTs represent and do. Instead of "omakase", they should be leading and participating in the ALT classes like the rest of their classes, without fear of not being able to use English.

"Offer more training that invokes team teaching and how an ALT can be effectively used at junior high school. We are not human tape recorders, and ALT lessons should not be grammar cramming time. If all JTEs knew how effective classes could be if they would just work with the ALT and find a good balance, then both parties - as well as students - will be much happier in the long run.

"Those are the two biggest issues I have. Because if primary school teachers have their foreign language class confidence boosted and junior high English teachers better understand team teaching, then there is more potential for JET ALTs to be involved with effective and ongoing lesson planning - and thus more for ALTs to actually do during non-class work hours, and more of an overall positive language and cultural effect on students across the board."

I really can't imagine things changing for the better anytime soon, but maybe one day this whole internationalisation thing will have a paradigm shift and we will see much more interactivity in the classroom and a lot more assessment and adjustment to teachers really utilising the human tools that they are being given.

I didn't have an altogether bad experience, as some of the schools I taught at gave me a very rewarding experience as an ALT. But, there are issues over homeroom teacher involvement and team teaching relationships that could be better addressed. Think of the kids!

That's all from me, for now. I really hope that we will get internet at home soon, as it is difficult to live without it (the things we have become accustomed to, eh). I also hope to be able to upload my teaching demo video here. Because it's all about enjoying yourself whatever you apply yourself to. :)

Edit: Here is the video!

Interac Teaching Demonstration from Tim Gough on Vimeo.



Thursday, 7 July 2011

Four Quizzes in a Month

I ran a quiz at Shouwa chuu, posting up results in Wordle format weekly. The students were very cooperative, and we ended up with some nicely stylised quiz results. Good stuff!

Wordle: Quiz - Week 1 Results   Wordle: English Quiz - Week 2 Results

Wordle: English Quiz - Week 3 Results   Wordle: English Zone Quiz - Week 4 - Tim

My time on JET is very close to finishing. Today I have my last classes at Shouwa JHS. We are playing Jeopardy with the kids, using the quiz questions that I made in the last month or so. Next week will be my final classes overall, so it's just over a week until my last appointment as an ALT for Shimanto primary and junior high schools.

I can only hope that both English Zone and English Corner will carry on with new ideas and a different kind of flair from my successor. And yes, I realise that I still have to put up my collection of photos from those projects!

What the future holds is anyone's guess, but I do have some prospects on the table. Teaching is likely still on the agenda, but I won't know for sure until possibly after my contract actually ends at the end of this month.

For Tokawa, I was submitting a monthly "short story". Even though my time there was cut short — I had my last class before the end of June — I still submitted a little editorial for the final month before natsu yasumi — summer holidays.

April 2011 - Anzac Day
In recent history, we have had two "World Wars". Many countries fought for what they believed in. Almost a hundred years ago, the 1st World War took the lives of many millions of people. Some of those people were New Zealanders and Australians: ANZACs.

ANZAC stands for “New Zealand and Australian Army Corps”. In 1915, thousands of these soldiers died on a beach in Turkey, called Gallipoli. But we remember those soldiers every year in commemoration of what they fought for. April 25th is Anzac Day.

Anzac Day is a day of remembrance. Many of the soldiers from the World Wars are dead now. But we still remember their sacrifice. We are reminded that war is terrible - but there will always be people who believe in freedom.

May 2011 - Golden Week
What did you do for Golden Week? Did you enjoy the time off? Did you travel? Did you see relatives?

This year, on the first day of Golden Week, my family and I travelled to Niihama, in Ehime prefecture. We visited the National Science Museum there. There was a lot to see and do.

The museum has a lot of hands-on (interactive) displays. There were many things that we could look at, play with and experience; a science show for children; craft that my daughter could make – she made a hovercraft; giant model dinosaurs that moved and growled; and a planetarium with a very cool astronomy display.

Even if you were unable to go anywhere for Golden Week, I hope that you had a good time. And I hope that you will have the chance one day to visit the museum in Ehime.

June 2011 - Four Seasons in One Day
Before we get the expected muggy, stiflingly hot weather that brings with it giant bugs and the desire to swim, here in Japan we have to experience heavy rainfall. Rainy season is as predictable as the mukade that try to creep into your house.

Rainy season is a strange concept to New Zealanders. The weather in New Zealand is so sporadic and unpredictable all year round, that people joke about there being “four seasons in one day”. In fact, there is even a famous song about it!

As with Japan, different areas of New Zealand experience the different seasons in different ways: It snows down south in winter, but throughout most of New Zealand we only experience cold wind and rain and the occasional frost. In summer it gets incredibly hot on the east coast and a lot more humid up north than anywhere else. My own city is fairly temperate: not too hot in summer, and seldom icy in winter.

I hope you enjoy rainy season and look forward to swimming in the river!

July 2011 - Goodbye Message
Dear students

My three years teaching in Shimanto have brought me through many experiences: from attending school sports days and graduation ceremonies, to getting married and raising a family. Part of me wishes that I had taken more advantage of my time as an ALT and done more – been more involved with the various schools that I teach at. But one can only be happy with as much as one actually does.

My time as an ALT may be at an end, but it is merely a change of season. I am not leaving Japan – and very much doubt that I will leave Shimanto any time soon. You could still see me around: at Sunshine, in Kochi city, at various festivals that we have. Please say “hi”, and know that I am always willing to say “hi” back!

I wish everyone at Tokawa chuu a bright future. Aim for the skies and keep your dreams alive. And never forget that English – no matter how frustrating to learn – opens up a whole new world of intrigue and diversity.



I will try and sort through my photos of both display walls to present those in a couple of slideshows, spanning the past year or so that I have been doing display projects at two of the three junior high schools I have been teaching at.

And even though I will no longer be on JET from next month, I will continue to update this blog. Because it is the Japan Journey; not the JET journey! There are many years ahead of me of discovery, experience and all-round continued Japanese immersion.