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Daddy’s Job

July 5, 2013 Leave a comment

This is a story one of the parents in my town posted on his Facebook wall.

お父さんの仕事

仕事帰り娘と二人、夜道を家路につく道すがら、娘が唐突に「お父さんはどんなお仕事しているの?」と聞いてきた。

小学3年生の娘に林業をどう説明したらよいかと、一瞬頭は躊躇ったが、気づいたら「お父さんは中川の森を守っているんだよ」と答えていた。

「木を調べたり、植えて育てたり、たまに伐っていたりしているんだよ。森は水や空気をきれいにしたり、動物たちのおうちになるんだよ」と続けたら、娘が「じゃあお父さんは中川を守ってるんだね」と嬉しそうに笑った。

ガス欠間近の心に、力が湧いてきた。

明日もがんばろう。

And here is my translation.

Daddy’s Job

On the way home from work with my daughter, just the two of us, travelling along the nighttime road to our house, she suddenly turned to me and asked, “What’s your job, Daddy?”

I hesitated for a moment, wondering how to explain forestry to my 3rd-grade daughter, but then it hit me and I replied, “I protect the forests of Nakagawa.”

When I added, “I do things like checking up on, planting, and raising trees, and sometimes I do things like cutting them down. The forest does things like cleaning the air and water, and provides homes for animals,” my daughter grinned. “So you protect Nakagawa,” she said.

I’ve got my work cut out for me tomorrow.

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Categories: Japan Tags: ,

ALT Resources I Made

June 3, 2013 Leave a comment

I make a lot of stuff for my classes. Some of it is great, some of it sucks, some can be reused, and others are just one-time things. The ones that can be reused aren’t always things I feel others would want, but I have come up with a few things I’d like to share in case my fellow ALTs — JET or otherwise — can make use of them.

I was going to upload three things today, but LibreOffice hates me, so there are only two.

Hi, Friends! Lesson Goals Translation

Any ALT working in elementary schools should be familiar with the Hi, Friends! textbooks by now. Not all of us have to use them, I suspect, since they are designed for use by native Japanese people who speak no English. Even if an ALT doesn’t have to use the Hi, Friends! textbooks, I think he or she can benefit from knowing what the goals are for each chapter — and for those of us who do have to use the textbooks, understanding the lesson goals is kinda necessary.

Unfortunately for any ALT who doesn’t speak/read Japanese, these books aren’t listed in English anywhere. So I translated the lesson goals. I haven’t translated the instructions for every activity in the books (and I may not ever get to that), but knowing what the lesson is aiming for is still pretty big.

Download: HF Lesson Goal Translations (PDF)

Two JTEs and one ALT in a small school ~ cooperation ~

I was going through my desk one day and found a thick packet written by a JTE who lived and worked in Nakagawa at least three ALTs before my time. It was made for a workshop about ALTs and JTEs working together. Although some of the things are unlikely to apply to most ALTs and some of it is just outdated, there is still a lot of good information in there. I modified all the names in retyping it, but it’s otherwise a pretty direct copy of the original.

Download: Two JTEs and one ALT in a small school (PDF)

 

The Soul of BitSummit

May 21, 2013 Leave a comment

This was originally posted on March 9, 2013 on my blog on Gamasutra. I really should have cross-posted it here in the first place. BitSummit is awesome and I am proud to have helped out with it. I fully intend to help again next year.

So, BitSummit happened on Saturday. It was a one-day event organized by James Mielke and Q-Games with the goal of helping Japanese independent game developers expand their reach. Epic Games, Unity, and Valve were in attendance to promote their tools and western media representatives from outlets including Wired, IGN, and GameSpot came to see what the game developers already had to offer.

The presentations were mostly informational, but James Mielke had the opening speech, in which he talked about his reasons for organizing the event. With the world of independent game development expanding, he feels that it’s a shame that talented Japanese independent developers see less recognition for their efforts. Japanese developers have a different pool of cultural expectations and experiences from which to draw, he pointed out, and the games they make reflect that. Mielke believes independent game developers in Japan have a lot to offer the industry, and that’s why he put BitSummit together.

BitSummit T-shirt back

The BitSummit T-shirt back was deliberately designed to include not just video game icons, but references to other parts of Japanese culture.

Read more…

My Students are Awesome

May 10, 2013 Leave a comment

I don’t know the third person in this conversation — I assume it’s one of my student’s new friends at his high school. Still, I’m pretty damn proud of him right now. His English really is clunky at best, but I’ll be damned if he doesn’t try. I can’t take all the credit for this; my JET predecessor was better at encouraging the students to try than I am, I think. But still. <3 This made me very, very happy.

awsome student on Facebook

Letter to My Graduating Students

February 21, 2013 Leave a comment

Spring is here, and with it the end of the Japanese school year. I have been asked to write a letter to my students, which will appear in what is, as far as I can tell from the explanation I was given, their yearbook.

Spring 2013

Dear graduating students,

What are your dreams? How will you make them come true? These are questions which only you can answer. You’ll still see the friends you are leaving now, and they’ll still support you as much as the can. You’ll make new friends and they’ll support you, too. But if you want your dreams to come true, you must make use of all the tools at your disposal.

Think of Link, from the Legend of Zelda games. In every Zelda game, he has two main goals. One is to save Princess Zelda and the other is to keep the Triforce out of Ganondorf’s hands. How does he accomplish those goals? He uses various equipment. Read more…

Categories: JET Program Tags: ,

A Cheeky Child and a Troubled Transfer

November 14, 2012 Leave a comment

The Cheeky Child

Photo credit: xopherlance on Flikr.

Photo credit: xopherlance on Flikr.

At the beginning of every one of my classes (at all levels of education from preschool to high school), I ask each student, “How are you?” This would take too much time if I had more students, but as things stand it’s a good, regular way to start the class. The fact that all the students know it also gives me a way to use English with them every time I see them around town. Unless a kid is obstinate and doesn’t want to respond — which happens sometimes — I’m guaranteed to be able to toss some English back and forth with every kid in town.

Rather than just teach them the stock “I’m fine. (And you?)”, I teach them to respond with things like, “I’m happy,” or “I’m hot.” I got this idea from the 5th grade textbooks. It seemed like a good idea, because rather than just teaching them that sentence A in English is the same as sentence B in Japanese, the interaction between question and answer must be explained. In Japanese, if you ask the equivalent of “How are you?”, what you’re really asking is “Are you healthy/energetic?”, to which the other person answers in the affirmative or the negative. Skipping the stock response and pointing out that you can really answer in any number of ways sets the students up to realize that learning a foreign language is more than just substituting the words in one language for the words in another language.

Several weeks ago, Googly Ears made me really proud by connecting a couple of random dots on her own. One day, during recess, I asked her how she was doing. Read more…

The Japanese and the Weather

August 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Up until now, I’ve been keeping my JET Program blog posts on a separate blog. I want to blog more regularly, but have no desire to devote the time necessary to keep two blogs up at once, so I’m merging it into this blog. The now defunct blog is here.

Since the Japanese are more concerned about online identity protection and I work with kids in particular, all Japanese persons I mention are given nicknames.

—–

Yesterday, it was very windy. That was great. It’s been upwards of and sometimes around 30 degrees celsius here in Nakagawa for the past 2-3 weeks, well past the usual point where the weather breaks and things start to cool off. It was still hot, but the wind made things bearable. Overjoyed, I left my house in the morning — by bike, as usual — and greeted the elementary school students as I passed them on my way to work*.

Taikyuu responded to my greeting with a worried look and worried words.

Taikyuu: It’s dangerous, Lena-sensei!
Me: (stopping, not sure I’d heard correctly) What?
Taikyuu: It’s dangerous! The wind is strong. Please be careful.

I assured him that I would be careful and carried on. This isn’t the first such exchange we’ve had. though it’s the first time he’s warned me about the wind. He’s a good kid, he knows me better than most of the other students in town since we both do taiko, and he seems to have become quite attached to me (which is really nice, actually). He tends to get really worried when he sees me doing something that isn’t wholly safe, though.

I thought he was being a bit silly, but my bike and I almost got blown sideways later that day. Read more…

Categories: Japan, JET Program Tags: , ,