The Great East Japan Earthquake that struck on March 11, 2011 directly impacted people living in Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate prefectures, but it affected people all over Japan. Over a period of about a year, I did a series of activities with my junior high school students related to the earthquake. (more…)
My teaching History
Hello. My name is Tomoe Wakui. Please call me Tomo. I am a high school English teacher in Niigata, Japan. I am very happy to have this opportunity to introduce myself here in Teaching Village.
Let me explain my teaching history briefly. I became an English teacher in 1989. I worked at a Girls High School. Except for only having female students, it was just a normal high school. (more…)
Committed to learning
After 20 years in the EFL classroom, I still learn new things all the time. Certainly, here in Japan, the students are completely different than they were back in 1989; in those days, they all sat up straight, had their hair braided back and always made an effort (or pretended to, anyways) whether they liked English or not. These days, things are a little more… normal, for want of a better word. The students make me work harder to get their attention, and they don’t try, if they are not interested in my lesson. I’ve had to grow as a teacher and adapt my lessons over the years. Here is a glimpse of my context, my approach and my challenges with my junior high school students at this particular point in my career: (more…)
Soon after I moved back to Japan, I had coffee with Kazu Nakamura, the new (at that time) president of Oxford University Press Japan. During our conversation, Kazu outlined his goals in regards to OUP’s educational mission. Part of the conversation, paraphrased in my memory, went like this:
Kazu: I want us to provide teacher training workshops in all areas of Japan.
Me: OUP already organizes workshops every year in all regions. How would this be any different?
Kazu: I want to send authors and trainers to the rural areas that don’t usually get attention. Even if only a few teachers attend, that’s OK. I want teachers to know that they matter.
Me: That’s nice.
I smiled, and gave Kazu credit for having his heart in the right place, but really didn’t expect to hear anything about his idea again. (more…)
Bringing food topics into the language classroom is one way to stimulate language learning as well as hungry appetites. 9 and 10 year old students in the 5th grade of our elementary school in Japan take part in an 8-hour lesson on varieties of rice in Japan. This Japan-unit is later followed by a similar one on rice around the world. In the lesson they will learn names and kinds of rice, the amounts of rice grown around the country, prices per kilogram, special dishes, and special points about each of the rice varieties. The end result will be a hand-made Japan rice book including a small sample of each kind of rice (more…)
This has been a very social disaster. I first heard about the quake on Twitter, and when friends started checking in, they did so on Facebook. Even when the phones and electricity stopped working, social networks carried on, largely because they could be accessed via mobile phones. It’s where people shared their stories–staying overnight with 200 students in Fukushima because they couldn’t get home, walking for 2-7 hours to get home from evacuated offices in Tokyo (no trains), trying to track down milk and bread in grocery stores, breaking into tears after finally getting out of the disaster area and getting a bath (there’s no water, either, for much of the region). (more…)
Like many people in Japan (at least those who still have electricity) I’ve been watching the news since yesterday, breathing a sigh of relief as each friend checks in or is found, and still worried about the many who have still not yet been heard from. (more…)
I was in Okayama last weekend for the OUP Teaching Workshops. Okayama is famous for several things, including a story many of you know (at least in translation) and a food enjoyed by the main character in that story. Finding the name of the story and the name of the food is your webquest for today! (more…)