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12 July 2011 @ 11:23 pm
Tonight was the farewell party for our Chiyoda adult English class.

I'm really going to miss them. A couple weeks after we arrived in Japan, a man showed up outside our house on a bicycle and introduced himself as a representative of community center English class. He was quite surprised to see two people, but he told us about how softlykarou's predecessor had taught the class and asked us if we would be willing to do so. We agreed (it would seem like a total asshole move not to), and at that time, we didn't know what to expect.

And honestly, in the beginning we were pretty bad. We didn't have a good gauge of each other's teaching styles and we didn't really know how to properly make lessons for the class, which wasn't helped by the fact that their English levels were so widely spaced (from one member who had studied English in university and spoken conversational English to a couple who hadn't mastered basic English grammar). A lot of our early lessons were basically lectures, which is precisely the wrong thing to do in a language-learning class that only has 9 students. Nonetheless, they kept coming and over time, we gradually improved our lesson-making.

The thing I feel kind of bad about is that our Japanese got much better over those three years than many students' English did. Though, part of that is the way they treated the class. For some, it was just a chance to speak the English they already knew. For some, it was a diversion--once every two weeks, they learned English for an hour and a half, then didn't think much about it the other times. For others, it was a hobby, and you could tell the effort they put into it outside of class by their progress in class. There's no way to learn a language in an average of 45 minutes' study a week unless you want to study for 75 years, but it doesn't matter. We taught as well as we could.

Along the way, we learned about as much from them as they learned from us. Bits of Japanese, famous places in Japan and bits of Japanese culture, funny stories (I still remember the hairdresser saying he took a special trip to a spring famous for 蘇りの水 [yomigaeri no mizu, lit. "Resurrecting water." "Revitalizing water" is probably more natural] to put it in his hair), food from the places they went, and so on. At the end of the party tonight, we all stood outside and looked up at the full moon, and one of the students said, "When you're in America, you will be looking at the same moon." With all the friends I'll be leaving when we leave Japan, it's a good thought to remember.

Excuse me a moment. I think I have something in my eyes. Both of them.
Current Mood: sadsad
Current Music: Savage Garden - Affirmation
Khandri, the Newtype Wannabekhandreia on July 12th, 2011 07:23 pm (UTC)
"When you're in America, you will be looking at the same moon."

That's such a beautiful sentiment, and it sounds like you had some great students. It's good to know that your experiences in Japan have been mostly positive, and that you've impacted so many lives.