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Experience Japan

Vol. 1 - The JET Program

experience2_1.jpgName: Sujoy Gupta
Area of Residence: Okayama prefecture, Japan
Useful Link:  The JET program

All those Japanese greetings you learn, with all the bowing - VERY IMPORTANT. Think of Japanese class as a general rehearsal for the real thing. I never thought I would be bowing so much or saying Ohayo Gozaimasu as often as I do (up to 20 times a morning). Formality is highly respected. Learn the protocols and social etiquette. These nice people always appreciate the effort. Here in the countryside, knowing more than a little Japanese is a MUST. Aside from general aisatsu, beginner level grammar is a must. Learning to read Hiragana and Katakana is useful. At the JET program interview they want to know what prep you've done so far. Being able to say that you can read and write some kana, and recognize some kanji is a big plus.

experience2_2.jpgI joined the JET program because it would provide me with an opportunity to work with elementary schools kids and expose them to the English language in a way that could be fun, educational and rewarding. As someone who received training as an elementary school teacher in Toronto, I am now able to combine that experience with my love of teaching English language.That opportunity is not readily available in Toronto.

experience2_3.jpgGiven the way many school boards look after their ALTs, I knew that money would not be a problem (the salary is less than my Canadian income, but my expenses are much lower out in the countryside), nor would workload; all I have to do is enjoy the profession. Like I said, this is just my specific reason. I also have the opportunity to see how another school board operates. And finally, I get to use Japan as a way to teach Canadian Curriculum highlighting intercultural comparison as a teaching tool.

experience2_5.jpgYanahara cho is a tiny town of 7000 people about 50 km north of Okayama City in Okayama Ken (think of Ken as 'province'). I love my town. It is beautiful, safe, and the people are genuinely friendly, polite and helpful. I am surrounded on all sides by tree-covered hills, with some mountains scattered around.The summer is quite hot in Yanahara and the rainstorms are definitive.

experience2_4.jpgSchool populations are small even though some class sizes are huge (40 students in one class).Students are typical the world over - teenagers smoke and misbehave when provided opportunities to do so. Other teenagers treat school as an opportunity to learn, while still others look at school for socializing. Teachers eat lunch with their students. You have to get around Yanahara town by car, but bike is also possible for short distances.

AITAS Japanese language school is a very good immersion program in which things are learned at a steady pace. Given your level of commitment, don't be surprised to see just how much you've learned in a relatively short period of time. Commitment leads to a surprising level of success very quickly.

I still see myself as a beginner, but a false beginner -that is, I know a lot of complicated vocab and grammar, but came across them in an unstructured way. Grammatically, I am still a beginner, I think.


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