The most recent blog posts will be displayed here. The rest, along with the answers to Ask PAs are listed to the right.
Ask Ibaraki JET PAs #025
When having conversations with your students (or even your JTEs), how often do you correct any perceived mistakes in their speech, without them asking for it? I know it depends so can you provide examples of situations or specific students? For example, grammar mistakes or word choice. In-class or outside of class. Long or short conversations. High or low-level students. Etc.
This is a very nuanced issue that depends on your personal demeanor, relationship to the other person, and English level of the other person. Outside of the classroom, if the person is a high-level speaker with a strong grasp of the grammar or language, then you could offer up the correction as a suggestion. “I understand you, but you could also use ________ .“ Or simply repeat/reply with the correct grammar, “See you later.” in response to “See you.” On a basic level, a suggestion is only helpful if the person can understand the correction. In other situations, just do your best to encourage the other person to speak freely.
If it is in the classroom or other professional environments, it would be best to avoid publicly correcting the teacher, or the student, unless the situation explicitly calls for it. In a learning environment, it can often be difficult to determine when to encourage and when to correct, especially with students. If it is relevant to the lesson or grammar point, you could ensure that lessons are set up to include immediate feedback, so that no one person feels singled out. Or simply use the advice above, while providing encouragement.
Ask Ibaraki JET PAs #024
I want to find a Japanese conversation partner around my age (20s), but it seems like the best places to meet locals near me are at bars. I don’t like drinking and don’t really socialize well in that atmosphere. Where are some other places I could try to meet Japanese people around my age?
Depending on where you live, your local town hall will often have a listing of different community and culture clubs in your area. These vary from Japanese Lessons to taiko drumming clubs or modern dance groups. The Ibaraki Orientation Handbook has information about Japanese Lessons for each block in Ibaraki. Since these lessons are often by volunteers from international associations, they are good chance to meet local members of your community, as well as other foreigners in your area.
This is an excellent way to get a foothold in the local community, even if you don’t immediately meet someone your age. You will build a network of people who may be able to introduce to a broader range of people. It may seem intimidating at first, especially if your Japanese is not yet conversational, but generally, people are willing to meet you where you are.
Ask Ibaraki JET PAs #023
I would like a letter of recommendation for future employers. What is the best way to go about this?
Asking for a letter of recommendation is a favor that will require effort on the part of the other person, as Japanese teachers are often busy. Make sure to provide as much help as possible. Recommendation letters in Japan are slightly different than in Western culture, so if you are looking for a letter to use on return to your home country, make sure to ask with ample time for review and editing of the content. This can be done in a couple of different ways.The first step is to make sure that the person is willing to write you a letter of recommendation. You can provide a sample letter of recommendation that they can approve. You can also provide useful phrases and examples of other letters of recommendation in the style that you want. Make sure to provide your own contact information that you will use when you leave the JET Programm(e). And to get theirs as well, in case you need to follow up.Last of all, remember to write a small thank you note. A show of appreciation goes a long way.
Ask Ibaraki JET PAs #022
How many classes should ALTs teach in a day?
This varies highly from school to school, and whether you teach at an elementary, junior high school, or high school. Each school utilizes the ALT in different ways. Often some weeks will be busier —or less— based on whether there are exams, holidays, school trips, etc.… However, in my experience, and based on informal polling of other ALT’s, I think the average is between 2-4 classes each day.
If you think that you are teaching too few or too many classes, there is often an English teachers meeting each spring to determine the teaching schedule for the upcoming year. Ask your supervisor about when the meeting is and make sure you are present at this meeting. You will be able to input your stance on the current teaching schedule as well as other issues throughout the school year.
Ask Ibaraki JET PAs #021
Is it better to buy or lease a car?
This depends on how long you’re planning to stay in Japan. If you’re planning to be here for two years, it might be best to lease a car. Most leasing companies will provide the necessary yearly or biennial maintenance (shaken), insurance, and small monthly maintenance (i.e., oil change) are included in your monthly fee. You also don’t have to worry about finding a buyer or pay to trash your car when you decide to go back home to your country.
If you’re planning to stay for more than two years, it might be best to buy a car. It may cost more in the beginning, but it will be cheaper for you in the end. Make sure not to forget when your insurance ends and to take your car in for shaken. You will also have to look for a buyer before you go back to your home country, but most JETs don’t have a problem with this.