Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Taking Japanese Student Teachers to Thailand to Teach English

Building a lesson from scratch includes choosing the content, thinking about how to present the content to the students in a way that is comprehensible and interesting, conceiving of communicative activities related to the content for students, and determining which language points and vocabulary to highlight to the students. I believe that this is what the best English language teachers in Japan can do.  I have written about this many times, but at my university, we have a teaching internship in a few secondary schools in Thailand where our students try to do exactly this. We tell the student-teachers that they are not teaching English but rather teaching about the Japanese culture in English. This year, a colleague and I will accompany the student-teachers to Thailand for two weeks in January. We have been helping the students prepare since October and we have done up to meeting 5 so far:

Meeting 1: Write profiles to send to host families and schools. Overview of the participating schools.
Meeting 2: History of Thailand
Meeting 3: Culture and customs of Thailand
Meeting 4: Classroom English practice and students receive a description of the kind of lesson plan we want them to conduct.
Meeting 5: Student-teachers present proposals for lessons and receive feedback
Meeting 6: Student-teachers give demonstration classes. More meetings: Student-teachers make appointments to consult with the internship supervisors about their classes.

I wish that we could meet more, but considering all the other work both the student-teachers and my university teachers have, even the above schedule is very hard. In meeting 4, I introduce many different ideas for ways to present material and tasks that encourage the use of all four skills. However, student-teachers probably did not learn anything from this. I have found that student teachers grow when they try demonstration lessons, receive feedback, and fix their lesson. It is only by actually teaching that student-teachers develop the know-how to teach. As I said before, this program enables the student-teachers to do some thing that would be more difficult for them to do as teachers in  a school of Japan: design and develop their own teaching materials and activities to accomplish the English learning goals they have for the children. It is my hope that this experience will  inspire the program participants to develop their own materials when they become teachers.

In a few weeks, I will blog about the themes and lessons of the student teachers.


Joe said...

This is good stuff, you have some great advice. My blog is similar (advice blog) but it's more focused on living in Japan as opposed to teaching english specifically. I'd appreciate a comment if you get a chance:

Marius said...


You're doing a great service, and I can hope the English speaking ability of Japanese youth has improved in the last years.

Now, as you like Garcia Marquez, and only if you don't mind (otherwise, please remove my post), perhaps you or your blog readers might want to have a look at “Simon and Hiroko,” a dramatic love story located to a large extent in Japan, which has gathered several appreciative reviews and blog interviews.

It certainly touches on the Yakuza and the police:-)

Murakami lovers might like it.

Available at:



I wish you’d take a stab at it too, as impressions from current residents would be very special for me.

I lived two years in Tokyo and I enjoyed the place very much.

Marius Hancu