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kamukamuume
November 12th, 2009, 07:26
I have an incredibly sweet girl who's working her ass off for a university interview she has coming up (next friday, I think), and I'd like to actually be of some aid to her. just broadly, what kinds of things should I be looking for when I critique her performance/suggest things to improve upon? I know langus mentioned helping someone with it.

so far we've discussed ideas for items along these lines:
what's unique about your hometown?
do you like your hometown?
what is your best memory of high school?
what is the most important thing you learned in high school?

I'll be meeting up with this girl after the last class period maybe 3 times in the next week, and I do plan to ask a couple of JTEs if they have ideas. it'd be very nice to hear from some ALTs, though.

my instinct is to tell this girl to think of very unique and thoughtful answers that the interviewers won't hear often; but seeing as this is japan and uniqueness gets hammered down until your teeth rot away and you're working at a convenience store, maybe being conventional is best?

Antonath
November 12th, 2009, 10:18
I've got a couple of students asking me for help as well.

The main thing I'm working on with them is "why". They give fairly standard answers to questions (what's your favourite subject, what subject do you want to study at this university, etc), but they get totally thrown when I ask "why". One freezes up entirely, the other has got much better.

From the sample interview stuff I've heard about from these students, "why" is what the university is after - the answer can be as conventional as they want, but being able to answer "why" shows they've put some thought into their future.

Zara
November 14th, 2009, 22:35
i have a girl that i'm helping with this right now, and i completely agree with Antonath - students very rarely seem able to answer "why" questions, and i think that is indeed what a university is after. in my student's case, the person interviewing her is a native english speaker. i'm not sure if this person actually has any say in her acceptance or not (i think the uni/program she's applying to has a strong international bent though, so it's possible) but if they do, her being able to express an opinion well will certainly register well with them.

she had some sample questions she was working on. they were mostly the standard "what is your favorite _____" or "what kind of ______ do you like?" a couple more interesting ones were about school rules: do you think school's need rules, what rules do you not agree with, what rules do you agree with, etc.

one big part she's working on is being able to explain her future goals/plans. her original answer is kind of brown bag though - wants to be a journalist, wants to study abroad in the US to experience "ethnic diversity," etc. it's awesome that she wants to do this, but i feel like the reasons she gives are kind of standard, so we've been trying to mix it up a little. i've yet to see her revisions, so i'm not sure what she'll come up with. i've had the same concerns as you about uniqueness: vice or virtue? so what i suggested she do is focus on how the things she learns will benefit japanese society specifically. nothing like patriotism/helping your community to blunt the effect of "OMG YOU'RE DIFFERENT, AAAAAAAAA!"

Moose
November 24th, 2009, 16:10
Hey guys/gals, I need some help. This is my first year as an ALT. And one of my favorite girls came to me and asked me to help her with the interviews. Her vocab is great but her grammer is a lil off. But she did tolerable considering the level school she came from.

So we worked together several times on the interview stuff and I thought she would do ok. But I guess that they didn't feel the same. She found out about 20 minutes ago that she didnt get it. After I just got done telling her not to worry cause i knew she got it. I can almost gurantee she is in the classroom crying right now. She really did try.

So my question is two part:

How do I nail it for the next kids that ask for help?

and how do i encourage/comfort the one I have now?
I am not very good at consoling people but i this is one of the ones i have taken under my wing and I really want to figure out how to make her feel better and confident enough that she can nail this next interview at the end of dec beginning of Jan.

Zara
November 25th, 2009, 00:56
first off, kudos to you for doing your best to help this girl. don't feel bad or guilty about her not getting it - realistically, you are a drop in the bucket of her english education, so no matter how much you try to help her leading up to it, if her education has been lacking along the way, there's nothing you can do about that, and it's not your fault.

honestly, i feel in situations like this there is only so much you can do to help. a lot of times it depends on the "raw material" you're given. i just had a girl in a speech contest that did a great job, but her pronunciation is way better than average because she started using listening materials at a really young age - obviously something i had nothing to do with. so really, you can only work with what you're given.

do your best to strengthen what you perceive to be their weak points, and try to think about how you as a native speaker can help in ways that a JTE can't (because the students will almost certainly be asking a JTE for help as well.) in my limited experience, this usually boils down to pronunciation, presentation, and expressing ideas. JTEs can help with grammar and vocabulary, so don't worry about spending too much time on that. try to give them lots of practice time so they can get comfortable with the words and truly make them their own (especially important with kids that are more shy.) encourage them to put a little personality in what they are saying, and BE SPECIFIC in their answers. a lot of my students have a tendency to just copy/repeat the answers they hear from textbooks, classmates, etc. try to encourage them to go beyond that if you can (and you may find that some students find that to be the most difficult thing of all.)

as for comforting... i would just give her a little space to get over it, and then be there to help her when she's ready to give it another go. repetition is often the best way to soothe nerves and build confidence. once she knows her material so well she could recite it in her sleep, she'll find herself relaxing more and more. just be there and give her as much of your time as you can.

Langus
December 2nd, 2009, 15:11
I helped a student with her interview too and she told me the other day that she failed so she's going to take the written test in January. I feel so bad for her but she seemed to be taking it okay so I dunno...

Anyway I found the questions she had the most trouble with were basic ones like - Why do you want to go to this university? How did you hear about our program? What is your best skill? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What achievement are you most proud of?

To me those are basic interview questions -especially for a university app or a job app. The program she was applying for was an international exchange so I asked why she wanted to live abroad, if she'd ever traveled outside of Japan, and how she might cope with home sickness, too.