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Poll: Which age group do you prefer to teach?
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Which age group do you prefer to teach?

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  #21 (permalink)  
Unread Mar 26th, 2007, 05:35 pm
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Default Re: What age group do you prefer?

Living in Korea,

You wrote that a good mix of adults and children is needed to avoid falling into a rut. For me, though, I don't think this holds true. Like any job, you (one) need to set new goals with which to challenge yourself (oneself)--regardless of which age you (one) teach.

I used to teach JHS students when first in Japan, and kept the job for three years. It was great, but I also knew when it was time to move on. Now I prefer adult classes because their life experience can be incorporated into the classroom. I also like using current events (or making references to what's happening in the world today) in the classroom. Hence my website, which also provides new challenges for me. I couldn't (and wouldn't) want to go back to children, with the exception of teaching my own daughter English.

I agree with you that a mix is important, though, especially when you start out teaching. Because I taught in the public school system in Japan, I understand more about the education system here. It translates quite well into what students know and don't know, their strengths and weaknesses, and all-around structure of learning for adults when they later return to study the language. There's a lot of experience to be gained from different age groups and different levels, which can be used in unforeseen ways later down the career path.

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  #22 (permalink)  
Unread Apr 7th, 2007, 05:46 am
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Default Re: What age group do you prefer?

Definately the 8 -11 year olds, they are great fun in my class, let me try, let me try, me, me, pick me, literally climbing up their tables with excitement, it's great.
On another note my high school students are totally the opposite, it's bad when your playing a game and you have to call out their numbers to participate and then they wake up!!
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  #23 (permalink)  
Unread Jan 6th, 2008, 03:56 pm
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Default Re: What age group do you prefer?

Quote:
Quote marie777 View Post
let me try, let me try, me, me, pick me, literally climbing up their tables with excitement,
he he, and then they don't even know what they were being picked to do!

I started with high school, went to uni, then adults and back to high school and thought I loved teaching. Now I'm teaching 9 and 10 y.o. and it's fab!
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  #24 (permalink)  
Unread Jan 7th, 2008, 05:52 am
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Default Re: What age group do you prefer?

any grade in elem is better than JHS.
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Unread Jan 7th, 2008, 04:59 pm
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Default Re: What age group do you prefer?

EngliPatrick,

I see you're in Japan. Where are you?

Can I ask why elementary school is better than JHS? When I taught JHS in the rural north, it was great. I was able to make a great impact on the lives of the kids up there. I had the occassional elementary school class, too, but I felt more an entertainer than an educator. (Don't get me wrong, fun is an important element in any classroom!)
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  #26 (permalink)  
Unread Jan 7th, 2008, 08:41 pm
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Default Re: What age group do you prefer?

I'm currently up here in Niigata. To answer your question, I teach in three elem schools and two JHS. With today's English education situation here in Japan, teachers like me usually have much more control over elem than JHS. Especially in Japan, where rural areas tend to stick more strickly to the book. Meaning, more emphasis is placed on the crappy English textbooks rather than really trying to gain a true understanding of the English language. This has been my experiences living in two different places in Niigata. I will admit that Niigata's education system is frowned on by other prefectures but that's a different story.

My situations thus far have proved showing a competent level of teaching, JHSs still tend to stick to the book but elem schools tend to listen and be a bit more flexible.

The reason for this flexibility is obvious....elem schools aren't geared towards tests but JHSs are extremely dependent on them.
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  #27 (permalink)  
Unread Jan 7th, 2008, 10:12 pm
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Default Re: What age group do you prefer?

I taught in the public schools in Japan from 1997 to 2000, so things have changed. At that time, kids in elementary schools weren't learning English, and instead had the occasional "lesson." I was fortunate enough to work in a very small JHS, and the teachers there valued my opinion and input. Of course, when it came to the 3rd year students, particularly after the summer months, they had to largely focus on the tests. But my kids were pretty good speakers, and passed the eiken tests -- thankfully because we didn't have to be a slave to the textbooks.

Why is the education system frowned on in Niigata? I was in Fukushima miles away from anything.
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  #28 (permalink)  
Unread Jan 8th, 2008, 07:44 pm
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Default Re: What age group do you prefer?

I wouldn't say that Niigata English education is frowned on here in Niigata. I would say the English education level is low here in Niigata. Why? There are multiple reasons that it could be but I think the reason that stands out the most is there is a huge divide between ALTs and the English education. ALTs are not seen as a resource that can be tapped for useful information but rather robot that should sit in the corner of the teacher's room and not respond unless asked a question.

I'll give you an example of the most recent thing. My local BOE is part of the elementary school English implementation program that MEXT is starting to intergrade. They created a committee comprised of one teacher from every elementary and JHS in the city. They are in the process of creating an English curriculum for elem school. The committee is entitled, "<something> ALT committee". The ironic thing is that no ALTs were invited to attend these meetings and when we questioned why, the only response we received was: "Nobody thought of it." While ALTs might not have licenses to teach elem school, they do have the most experience teaching English at that level. That being said, JHS teachers don't have licenses to teach at an elem school level either.

It was a Japanese/English communication thing either because many of us have a strong enough command of the language to somewhat understand what is going on, not to mention we were forced to sit through a 4 hour meeting, all in Japanese, a couple months ago.

This is just one example of how ALTs are viewed. Education is about pulling resources from all around, but until ALTs are seen as resources and tapped into for their knowledge and experience, the education in this prefecture is going to continue to suck. Now I understand ALTs in other prefectures are often treated the same way, but I've even talked to some of the Japanese English teachers in the city and they have told me they don't like meeting with other prefectures because they always have to answer questions about the low level of English in Niigata.

Hue, you mentioned 'slaves to the textbook'. That is another reason Niigata's English education sucks balls. It's like a cross between Hitler and a computer here, at least from what I have seen.
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  #29 (permalink)  
Unread Jan 8th, 2008, 08:26 pm
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Default Re: What age group do you prefer?

It sounds as though not a lot has changed, as most ALTs faced similar problems in Fukushima schools, too. Like I said, I got lucky, even if I pulled my hair out on more than one occasion in frustration. But it also took a lot of hard work to really get recognized in my school to do more than serve as a human tape recorder or game machine. The JLTs just don't know how to best utilize a native speaker in the classroom.

The Japanese education system has a lot of problems, particularly when it comes to language learning. The system used hasn't changed much from the grammar-translation method advocated one hundred years ago, and there doesn't seem to be any changes on the horizon.

I read (and barely half understood) an interesting article in a Japanese business journal that Japan will find itself very much left behind in world affairs because of their inability to use English. Already a great number of non-Japanese are heading major corporations here, but the reverse isn't true -- few Japanese head organizations outside the country. The article even suggested that America might dump Japan as an equal partner in Asia if it falls behind on the world stage, which could very likely happen.
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  #30 (permalink)  
Unread Jan 8th, 2008, 10:04 pm
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Default Re: What age group do you prefer?

I thought for a long time that Japan spent too much time holding and focusing on the past and not on the future. However, I was wrong. You can see this isn't true when you look at China's progress, despite it still cherishing its past. I think the problem with Japan is that its too Japan -- too much nationalistic pride that it is detrimental to the society on whole.

I found an interesting article about Japan's English education system on the internet recently. It was an amazing article. It was like the author was reading my inner thoughts. I wanted to host the article on my website, so I contacted him. We both laughed our asses off when I found out he wrote the article over 10 years ago and I was telling him NOTHING has changed.

Japan can teach their children whatever they want but I'm a firm believer the moment they start trying to teach something not familar to them, they need outside help. The problem is their stubborness and/or racism that is keeping them to seek help from people who don't have Japanese blood.

Japan's English education system is much like that Japanese whaling boat a few years back that broke down while they were whale hunting. A Greenpeace boat was next to them and offered to help, despite how they felt about what they were doing, but the Japanese refused their help and sat dead in the water for a week instead.

Sometimes I just wanna say f@#$ it and go back to my home country holding my middle fingers high but I don't think it's fair Japan's future generation should suffer for the present generation's stubborness and stupidity.

I really think a lot of this inability to change comes from moral education being taught in school versus at home by the parents. By the time a student graduates high school, they have more or less been turned into little borgs to be properly inserted into society. Don't get me wrong; I'm not bitter. I just don't like to see my hands tied when I'm trying to help kids, especially kids that aren't even from my own ethnicity.

BTW, the problem isn't with the JTEs down in the local schools. They've seen me teach and I've gained their respect. 2 of 4 JTEs at my schools have changed their minds about the importance of Phonics and that is all we teach in the ALT classes, while in my elem schools, I've set up an English homework system and shown the HRTs that students CAN have fun while learning proper English. The problem is at the BOE level and their lack of listening to anything an ALT says. I know this problem isn't specific to Niigata but I also know, it doesn't make it any less frustrating to deal with.

To give you another taste of the frustration I've been through, I bitched for 10 months at my base school before the kocho finally said I could have a laptop to work on. He called me into the office and said, "I found you a laptop. It's a 486." 486!?!?! What the hell is that!?!? Throwing out a random number just proved to me he didn't know anything about computers but since he was the top dog, he had to make the decision. But he was too stupid to ask others about something he didn't know about.

It didn't stop there. I finally got a laptop, only to find out I needed a password to sign in but in order to get a password, I needed to fill out paperwork that takes to weeks to process. I finally signed on, to find out it didn't have Microsoft Office, another two weeks down the drain. When I finally got it back, it took 15 minutes (literally) to load up. After consulting the computer tech, a.k.a. the kyoto sensei, he told me all I had to do to speed up the computer was to unplug the network wire, at which point I wanted to punch someone in their nose for being stupid. But it didn't end there...

After explaining to the kyoto that unplugging it would give me access to the network, which I needed to gain access to the internet and printers, I did some snooping around to find out what kind of computer I was working with. Without running any programs, on a fresh boot, moving the mouse around the screen maxed out the CPU processor.

I could keep going and going, but I think you get the point. I understand that people in charge shouldn't know everything about everything, but only in Japan won't people ask others about something they know nothing about. Kinda like the English education system here...
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  #31 (permalink)  
Unread Jan 9th, 2008, 05:35 am
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Default Re: What age group do you prefer?

Some adults are really terrible.
Your first class with them turns into a 'last round interview session' after the one you just had a few days ago with the recruiter. They fire tons of questions at you.

I think most of them are actually looking for a foreign friend not a teacher.

On the other hand come see my elementary kids on me pulling down all my stuff searching for candy and stickers as rewards for the good work they have done in class.
Just awesome!

But don't think you are teaching anything to those middle /high school day dreamers. All they are doing is laughing at your silly lessons and seeing how similar or different you are to their favorite NBA star, singer or movie star.
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  #32 (permalink)  
Unread Jan 9th, 2008, 05:24 pm
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Default Re: What age group do you prefer?

I'm interested in reading the article. Can you provide the link?
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  #33 (permalink)  
Unread Jan 9th, 2008, 06:51 pm
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Default Re: What age group do you prefer?

. Methodologies

It's entitled "English Education in Japan".
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  #34 (permalink)  
Unread Jan 30th, 2008, 06:49 pm
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Default Re: What age group do you prefer?

I teach elementary full time and I do like teaching them, but my very very favorite age to teach is toddlers. I currently have a class of three-year-olds that I have been teaching for over a year, and watching them grow and change over that time has been just amazing. I love how open they are to learning, how willing they are to try, and how excited they are when they're having a good time. I love that I never hear the dreaded "Wakaneee" from their lips.
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  #35 (permalink)  
Unread Feb 21st, 2008, 05:46 pm
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Default Re: What age group do you prefer?

Put me down for "adults" and "university students". I lack the energy or patience for hyper children, and prefer to exchange perspectives with older students. Of course, teaching adults has its problematic aspects - especially on the lower levels. The downside of teaching university students remains the workload. How many research papers can you edit? How many presentations on familiar topics do you want to see filled with the same "good mistakes"? Still, I've found a far greater depth and variety of students in both adult schools and university classes than when I struggled with immigrant high school students. It's also far more satisfying, less stressful, and more intellectually engaging. Or at least that's been my experience teaching in Southern California.
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  #36 (permalink)  
Unread Feb 22nd, 2008, 12:32 am
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Default Re: What age group do you prefer?

My favorite classes are with adults, either in general English courses where they are paying for the classes themselves, or in ESP courses in a corporate training setting.

In such classes, the students naturally have more life experience, so conversations tend to be more interesting. And such students usually have reached a point in their lives where they understand completely why they need to be there, so motivation is often higher.
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Unread Feb 22nd, 2008, 08:50 pm
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Default Re: What age group do you prefer?

Motivation definitely matters. I echo your observations and share your conclusions.
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Unread Feb 25th, 2008, 10:09 pm
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Default Re: What age group do you prefer?

Don't you guys feel that adult teaching sometimes is like getting paid to listen to people talk? That's the most exciting, relaxing and convenient part of adult teaching to me.
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Unread Feb 26th, 2008, 12:20 am
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Default Re: What age group do you prefer?

It can seem that way sometimes, what with keeping the teacher talking time down and all that. Being that Iím such a curious person, I find it exciting to get a peek at how students look at different important issues.

Iím not sure I would say itís relaxing though, as when Iím not talking, Iím not simply listening passively. I actively make notes on what needs to be corrected during my talking time, and how the lesson/topic might be expanded.
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Unread Feb 27th, 2008, 12:01 am
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Default Re: What age group do you prefer?

Agreed! That's one of the simple, yet enduring, attractions of teaching conversation - and finding out how the world looks from another perch.
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