Teaching Topics: ESL Teaching in Japan
Before we left Chicago, when we would tell people that we were going to teach English in Japan, they would usually ask if we spoke Japanese… Which we do not.
We still do not but we are slowly picking up new words & we have begun studying Katakana on our own, which helps us read foreign words like ‘coca-cola’ or ‘cake’, etc. Once we learn them all, we can move onto words formed with those characters.
In the classroom though, we use a lot of pictures and English-Japanese dictionaries to help new concepts make sense & so far it works well. Often, 1 student will understand the concept and will explain it more in Japanese to the other students, which is good for me!
People would also ask ‘don’t you need to speak their language to teach?’… So the answer is ‘no’, you do not need to know the foreign language in order to teach your own language… But you should try & learn so you can improve your own quality of life in the foreign country and so you can talk to more people easier.
Of course, it would be far easier to have an additional native language teacher with you in the class, or to know how to speak the language – so if there’s a confusing topic, it would be easier. But we have dictionaries, and if there’s something that can’t be acted out or drawn or illustrated somehow, we can always have our secretary assist by quickly explaining the new concept.