Teaching in Kanazawa has been an eye-opening experience that’s for sure. I work at a small private conversation school (eikaiwa) and have learnt a lot about the local area through my students. Some like to take me out drinking and share stories from their life and others are happy coming week after week for their good dose of meaningful English.
I moved to Kanazawa from Tokyo with a desire to explore Japanese life outside of the big city. It certainly has been different, it’s smaller, has a lot of parks within close proximity the main station and has plenty of Universities. I like it because when I’m sitting on the train or riding I see some of the most beautiful mountainscapes I’ve ever seen.
I’ve made quite a few friends here with both Japanese and foreigners and find the pace of life here a lot more manageable compared with the ‘grind’ I experienced in Tokyo. You kind of need a car here especially in the winter months but I’ve managed quite well with my bike since arriving in March.
I get to most of my kindy classes on the bike and arrive with a mixture of dread or utter joy depending on which one I’m going to. Let me explain.
Most kindergartens are run in the most strict and regimented of styles; don’t let the cute cutouts that line the classroom walls fool you, these are designed to give the prison, sorry I mean, ah, kindergarten a sense of serenity and fun. Well to be fair this is the case in the minority though I do find it things here to be quite regimented regardless of the level of fun.
If you do get a chance to teach kindergarten kids English you’ll see a very strict and guiding hand active within the classes, it seems consistent with the rest of the Japanese schooling system so this needn’t sound alarmist. There are always beautiful charms where the kids have freedom to give you a nice big hug if they desire and then the not so nice experience of witnessing a militaristic interpretation of ‘If you’re happy and you know it’. True, I taught them the lyrics, gave the notes to the teacher, taught them a few groovy AKB-48 moves and within a month visited again to see the most sadist version of ‘If you’re happy’ I had ever seen. Oh well, each to their own. I didn’t come here to change Japan.
So as you can gather I like to promote a fun learning environment where children can learn without realising they’re learning because the class is so engaging. Sure, the fact that I am likened to Mr. Bean usually helps turn a stale lesson plan into a magical English ride.
Well, I’ll be writing again soon, left things way too long before I said hi again. Till next time!