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Flexibility: Being an Elementary School ALT in Matsuyama

By Ciaran

As an elementary school ALT, I’ve played many roles. I have been the tape-recorder: reading dialogue from a script as the children fidget and try to match pictures to numbers based on what I’m saying. I have been the planner. I have prepared materials and designed lessons. I have adjusted things between classes and addressed problems that came up unexpectedly. I have been a kind of class pet: little children literally climbing on me, pulling at my hair, shouting for my attention, comparing hand and foot sizes, marvelling at my non-brown eyes and occasionally trying for that elusive kancho – and that’s where I draw the line.

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Two in One: Teaching at an Ehime Secondary School

By Jose Catalan

I’m a high school ALT in Imabari, Ehime and I’ve been here for almost four years. I know many of you have different schools you go to, but I am one of the lucky ones. I only have one school because my school is not an ordinary high school. It’s a secondary school. There are few secondary schools in Ehime so when I first got here, I didn’t know what that was. Let me explain what that means.

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Undercooked: The Problem of Baking at Japanese Schools

By Josiah Ng

Japan’s ministry of education announced earlier this week that it would again increase funding for its bread baking programs run out of the department of home economics, making it the most well-funded school culinary program in Japan and more funded than any baking program run by its neighbors to the west, China and South Korea. The funding comes on the heels of a recent third-party review of Japan’s baking education which concluded that the Japanese student graduating from high school are less competent at baking than other students in east Asia and thus unable to compete in the growing demand for baking internationally. Now, instead of baking education beginning upon entrance into middle school, this decision starts baking classes two years earlier, or fifth grade in elementary. Eventually it seeks to by 2020 have children as young as third grade measuring flour and singing “Do You Know the Muffin Man?”

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