Halfway through our first week with our Japanese students, we already seem to be making some progress! My group consists of six interns and two incredibly bright Japanese high school students, named Miyu and Kayato. Both started out a bit quiet on Monday, but throughout the week have gotten more confident with asking questions and reading.
To encourage the students towards a global mindset, we’ve been discussing culture, the American and Japanese educational systems, and ways that our students can apply the subjects they love in school now to college, study abroad, and future life goals. To engage the students with speaking and listening to English, we have played games like telephone and story-creating, talked about the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and given presentations on college majors and career paths for certain academic interests.
For the Olympics (Tuesday afternoon), we spent time having the students think of ways they personally could assist in making the Games a success. Responses included teaching foreigners about Japanese culture and language, opening up their homes to visitors from all over the world, and encouraging the government to introduce a large-scale free wifi program around Tokyo. They gave their responses a ton of thought and didn't hesitate to ask our opinions as well! We finished the discussion by creating posters and having the Japanese students in each group present their ideas to the entire program- probably a stressful experience for all of them, but it made our students really put the English phrases they had been learning for the past few days to work.
The intern presentations on the universities we attend and our majors have hopefully sparked some interest in the students. My group has a good mixture of economics, math, and Japanese majors, and we all have other interests that came out in our presentations! Kayato asked a lot of questions during intern Lynda’s math major presentation, and Miyu seemed eager to gather as much information as possible on American universities overall. She and Kayato were also both interested in the focus on sports in college- Miyu loves to dance, while Kayato plays basketball, and both were wondering how to continue those interests at an American university. We ended up speaking about not only our academic interests, but on how we and other American students enjoy our time outside the classroom as well.
On Tuesday, my students began asking questions about life in America versus Japan, and we spent a while (very interestingly) discussing Kayato’s question about why he thinks Americans are more creative than Japanese. The interns and students alike got very into the discussion while we thought of possible reasons, eventually finding some aspects of Japanese culture are even more creative than in America!
The interns in my group have also been doing daily vocabulary lists for our students- just to keep track of useful words they’ve had trouble with and can practice more. Every morning when the students come in, we’ve been starting off the session by reviewing hard words from the day before. We’ve taught them the definitions of cooperate, unjust, and nuanced, just to name a few. The interns will keep building on our list as the week goes on, and give the students the final list at the end of the week for them to keep practicing.
So far, the English level these students not only come into the program with but also the speed at which they pick up speaking is amazing to me. I hope that every week starts out as smoothly as this one.