On the troubles of the ALT

I wanted to post this at lunch, but my damn computer at work wouldnt let me! Argh, excuse the lateness...

SO, folks. At last lunch time has arrived at Hamatama Chuu, and a stuffed morning of reading and repeating has been completed. 4 straight classes of asking questions, only to answer them myself after what feels like hours of silence. At least i can safely feel tha not my fault. So, then, what to do? Well, before addressing that question, ask yourself, do I really want to change this? Do I really want MORE responsibility? If the answer is no, then read no further, for you are the lucky ones.

If though, your answer is yes, then I wish to relay my tales of fighting against that problem. I have been regarded by many people as strangely motiviated to change things. Dont ask me why, because really, i dont know. A small part has to do with getting valuable resume building material (Come on, at least i have the cahones to admit it), but I would say a majority of it comes from the fact tha eems like such a great opportunity to change things for the better and improve the lives of hundreds (thousands?) of kids. I mean, when else can you come into a situation and see so quickly and easily some obvious steps that could easily be taken to seriously help things? The only trick is that no matter how obvious those steps may be, the darn japs just wont take em. Well, heres what i did, for better or worse.

First off, all of my suggestions and materials i made are easily available, so just ask if you want a copy. First, my text is so bad that i literally reorganized the entire vocab of 1,2,3rd grade from random into a 30-page set of vocab lists arranged by topic (such as sports, food, directions, transportation, emotions, common verbs, clothes, body parts....) This is a great tool, given that the book has no Jap-Eng dictionary. So now the students can look up stuff in japanese, and its even got some cute pictures. Yay!

Second, I realized that the grammar was also awful. The example sentences were often very difficult and again there was no japanese translation, so the students had no way of remembering what the meaning was if they didnt write it down themselves. So I created another 30 page grammar document with clear grammar patterns, clear example sentences and meanings. Great for all grades but especially the 3rd graders for studying everything in prep for the entrance exam. Thirdly, I thought that the grammar and vocab were horribly out of order, so I created what i thought was a good week by week schedule of the material which reorders the grammar and matches it with appropraite vocab. For example, learning all the Be-verb stuff together, and learning all the uns together. Also learning the question words together, and so on. While my plan was unfortunately denied (duh), the resource is still there, and they did somewhat like the idea of reorganizing a bit. have the seeds of change been sewn?

Lastly, and this one im most proud of, is starting an English club. I dont know if any of you have one, but this is the BEST opportunity for ALT`s to escape the oppression of the japanese system and teach what they want. In my case, I fought for 8 months against two principles to finally make it happen, and it starts today. I already have ten people signed up and i expect that number to grow. Its gunna be just me, and i can teach them anything from cool street english, to culture, movies, songs, games and whatever else. The only catch is tha after school and purely volunteer. This is why I ask if indeed you are willing to change it. IMO, this is the best thing you can do, and if you want me to help you ge tarted, Ill be happy to.

Anyways, I hope these ideas/resources help you. Remember, dont stop fighting them if you really care. Ruffle some feathers. remember youre western, youre not japanese. Dont try to act like it all the time. Stand up for yourself, for waht you believe and remember to keep the kids in mind. They deserve something more than this horridly boring crap that they have to sit through. If you have any questions, feel free to ask, and good luck!