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Thread: Japanese to English helping in class?

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    Senior Member reed's Avatar
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    Default Japanese to English helping in class?

    Hiya, just a curious question:

    For those of you who've had the opportunity to teach portions of classes and are also capable of speaking/writing basic Japanese, have you attempted to use Japanese to communicate certain things?

    I heard it's frowned upon, although it seems that this would be a very useful way to reinforce meaning, do grammar points, etc, if only on a very elementary level. It might also open floodgates - conversation and whatnot in both languages. Could be a bad thing. And I know teaching is nerve-bending to begin with, don't know if even confident speakers would consider it a justifiable risk...

    Anyway!

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    Theoretically speaking, the ideal classroom is an English only environment. However, in the real world, your average elementary teacher speaks less English than you do Japanese, so you'll probably have more luck communicating in English, and doing your own translation, if you know any Japanese at all.

    eg:

    Me: Stand up (makes obvious gesture)
    Students: (stare blankly at ALT)
    Me: Please STAND UP
    Students: <see above>

    ....

    Me: Tate kudasai
    Students: (stare in shock at bad Japanese, then wake up and stand up)

    But mostly I just use Japanese for understanding. Eg, students ask me a question, and especially in the lower grades and elementary, its almost always in Japanese. I then translate their question for them, and answer it in English. Not ideal, but a hell of a lot better than a long, empty, boring silence.

    Matt
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    Default Re: Japanese to English helping in class?

    Quote Originally Posted by reed
    Hiya, just a curious question:

    For those of you who've had the opportunity to teach portions of classes and are also capable of speaking/writing basic Japanese, have you attempted to use Japanese to communicate certain things?

    I heard it's frowned upon, although it seems that this would be a very useful way to reinforce meaning, do grammar points, etc, if only on a very elementary level. It might also open floodgates - conversation and whatnot in both languages. Could be a bad thing. And I know teaching is nerve-bending to begin with, don't know if even confident speakers would consider it a justifiable risk...

    Anyway!
    It all depends on what kind of teaching role you fill.

    Most of us are teaching Oral Communication, so using English here is very important. Indeed, using Japanese is counterproductive to such a class, as they will switch off from the English and focus on the Japanese.

    That said, there are other types of teaching that I do which allow me to use Japanese in the class - specifically grammar classes, or the classes I have for the final year students, where my aim is to expand how they use the language. Sometimes in order to provide the correct framework for such a thing I will speak in Japanese to give examples and to clarify issues. Obviously, my preferred method of communicating such things is in English, but the students know that if they cannot articulate their question/problem in English, they can speak to me in Japanese and get a response they can understand.

    As an aside, it is entirely possible to teach a class and not say anything. Provided the class is awake and you have clearly understood activities, as well as physical demonstrations/examples, it is entirely possible to have the class do all the talking. (This isn't something I've done in Japan, but I did it successfully in Europe).

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    Definitely. I hardly speak any Japanese, but the kids love to hear me say one or two words here and there. It stops you seeming so alien and for some reason it is hysterically funny to them!

    I have heard of JETs who can speak Japansese, but choose not to in the classroom... I don't understand why. Can you imagine learning Japanse from someone who didn't speak a word of English? It would take forever!

    Unless your JTEs have an objection, go for it!
    Over-optimism modest chocolate and a soft marshmallow lead you in elegant tea time.

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    I teach only Elementary, so I have had many experiences like Dynamis... I try not to use Japanese or katakana Engrish, but sometimes it is nesserary. Also, the fact that I can speak a lot of Japanese (although I am not 100% fluent) is one of the reasons I got asked to do only Elementary.

    I get the impression that the expectations of learning English in Elementary is quite different than in Jnr high or High school. The Elementary English is more a 'lets expose them to English and gaijins so its not such a shock when they get to jnr high...' I have visited about 8 schools so far, with 2 more to come soon, either doing full day visits or visiting just the English Clubs. Even with my main school, I may teach each grade one day per month... and this is one of the elementary schools that has a stronger emphasis on learning English.

    I hear some of you going 'katanana Engrish!' 'Heathen! Blashemper!'. I only really use it with the year 1s and 2s, as their knowledge of even romaji is virtually nil. I write the English in REALLY BIG letters and the katakana furigana in really small letters. There were kids that were getting really upset if they got stuck on a word, so they can go up and get some help if they need it, but the more able kids won't. I refuse to do it for the older grades - they really have had enough exposure by then..

    Same thing goes for using Japanese... English gets spoken a lot louder and slower than Japanese, and then I won't allways do a word for word translation either.. for example.. I might say "In my family there are.." and then softly say "kazoku" to give them a hint. I also use a lot of mime.

    I am more likely to use only Japanese outside of the classroom... this is supposed to be a cultural *exchange*, so I've got to get something out of it too...
    It's offical... I HATE EARTHQUAKES!

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    As of late November supervisor told me that since the ichinensei (1st year) OC students can't understand my English that these 6 classes will be taught in Japanese. I could only make an "are you crazy?!" face at my super. I don't get it. So now I give instructions in English and teach vocabulary in English, but it's translated into Japanese. I'm also encouraged to speak Japanese to my students when they don't understand. :? I think I learn more Japanese in my English classes than my students learn English.

    It's an odd situation, and I'll leave it at that.

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    My Japanese teacher barely speaks any English so I have to use Japanese to communicate with her, which works well; I'm getting to the point where we can have a decent conversation in bad Japanese. However, she occasionally uses the odd English word to help me understand the meaning of certain things and I think I'd be lost without that!
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