Less than a day, actually.

Each year JETs are encouraged to take one of the JET Japanese Language Correspondence Courses.  Last year, I completed the Advanced Course, so this year, I’m doing the Linguistics and Pedagogy Course, which I’ve mentioned before.  In order to complete the course, participants must attend a week-long training seminar.  The highlight of this training is actually executing the Japanese lesson plan one has been drafting over the course’s homework assignments.

The seminar took place at the Japan Intercultural Academy of Municipalities in Shiga Prefecture.  Most of the participants were actually CIRs (Coordinator of International Relations, one of the other type of JET), and, despite that most JETs are American, less the half of this course’s participants were from the States. (So get to studying, American JETs!)

It was nice to meet JETs from all over.  When American JETs from the mainland would tell me where they were from, I was left a little in awe, because I’m used to JETs pretty much only being from Hawaii (where most Fukuoka JETs come from).  ^_^;  I also met JETs from Korea, Australia, New Zealand, France, Indonesia, Russia, Brazil, Spain, and Argentina!  My group had the highest number of different nationalities. While everyone spoke English at least a little bit, the official common language was of course Japanese.

The trainee rooms were equipped with the same model TV that I have in my apartment. Not that I got to watch it much.

I like it when there's only a partial shadow over mountains. Taken from within the JIAM building.

The participants were divided into 5 groups of 10 for the practicum.  When one wasn’t teaching, one played the role of student.  For my part, I tried to play a “regular” student, asking questions such as “why is ‘kaeru’ a class one verb when it looks like a class two verb?,” and purposely not pronouncing the “h” during the Spaniard’s lesson (since her lesson was geared toward Spanish students and the “h” is silent in Spanish).

I chose to do my lesson on 「(場所)に(物)があります/(場所)に(人・動物)がいます」(“there is (thing) at (place)/ there is (person or animal) at (place)”).  My lesson was geared to American freshman college students, so the activity portion was a lighthearted game where the students had to get each other’s items (with the exception of money) by asking things like 「◯◯さんのかばんの中に鉛筆がありますか。」(“Is there a pencil in [your] bag?”)  and handing over whatever items they did possess that the questioner asked for.  I had handed out many small things, such as a handkerchief, umbrella, and anything else whose name the students were supposed to know given their presumed total Japanese study time, so that they wouldn’t feel like they had to use too much of their actual belongings.  This activity went alright, but the rest of the lesson, for which I was using the textbook and a bunch of picture cards and realia, was a bit clumsy given the number of items I had.

Oh well, live and learn.

I was lucky to have ended up in a group that got along really well.  At first I wondered how it would go, since I didn’t know anyone save the other Fukuoka JET there (who I didn’t even know was in the course).  But by the end, my group kept eating its meals together. We even had an impromptu “party” with stuff bought from the conbini on the last night.

I got Ryu's theme in my head just looking at this!

On the last day, each group had to do a presentation about what they learned.  All of them took the form of skits.  My group decided to do a skit centered on how a teacher should react when students ask unexpected questions, such as asking about a grammar point they heard somewhere that the whole class hadn’t studied yet.  There were three questions, and for each we showed a good reaction and a bad reaction.  We used Street Fighter as a framing device; e.g. we would say “Round one, FIGHT!” when the bad teacher came out to a clip from Ken’s theme, then said “YOU LOSE!” to them.  The good teacher came out to a clip from Ryu’s theme as the rest of the group said “Round two, FIGHT!”  At first we had wanted to have many different tracks, but figured it would be simpler to have less to deal with managing, so I decided to just play off Ryu and Ken’s friendly rivalry. ^o^ (How many people actually got the full meaning of the reference, I wonder?)

You can see Lake Biwa in the background.

I unfortunately didn’t get to see Lake Biwa up close during the day.  One night I went with two other JETs to see it, but couldn’t get to the lake shore since the stretch of it closest to where we were was blocked off by hotels, a local university yacht club’s boathouse, etc.

Anyway, I took the photo above from the train station on the day the seminar was over.

Now, I had purchased my shinkansen tickets to that I would have about 4 hours to look around Kyoto, since I had to go through Kyoto Station anyway.  The team wasn’t quite ready to part, so we had lunch together at a restaurant in Kyoto and talked for a while.  Of course the Korean member was taken for Japanese, so the waiters initially addressed only her.  The other patrons kept looking at us, since on top of being foreign we were speaking Japanese. ^_^;;;

After lunch most of us had to part ways, but my new friend from Spain and I decided to go to karaoke.  After belting out some assorted Beyoncé, Shakira, and Madonna, we went back to Kyoto Station, figured out where our respective trains were, and began our respective journeys home.

Within a week, participants are supposed to receive a DVD with a recording of the lesson they did on it.  Then we have to review ourselves based on the video.  /°0°\

(That’s my emoticon version of the dude in Edvard Munch’s The Scream, by the way.)

Well, that’s all about this, for now.

次回!My Kids are More Talented Than Yours! *Raspberry*

(Just kidding, just kidding!  Don’t get so defensive!)