2 – Elementary Japanese

Date: 17/07/2013
Teacher: Aiko
Class: Japanese
School: ESL Prolog, Berlin, Germany
Level: A1
Number of Students: 5

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I recently observed a Japanese lesson conducted in German – which, given that my German is only intermediate and I don’t know more than a couple of Japanese words, was quite an experience.  Despite my limited knowledge of the languages, it was lovely to recognise and discover some good teaching techniques.

The teacher, Aiko, had a lovely, welcoming presence in the classroom, but what struck me most about her was her efficiency.  From the moment she came into the classroom the lesson began.  There was no hanging around, no ‘dead time’, she kept up the pace of the lesson throughout, whilst continuing to be smiley and encouraging, keeping her students’ attention on the task in hand and demonstrating patience during students’ feedback.

Aiko’s manner was confident, encouraging and engaging and she was very attentive to her students.

Some points that particularly struck me:

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  • Repetition 1 – Teacher repeating students’ answers during task feedback – particularly useful at this level as the repetition helps to solidify the language in the students’ minds.
  • Repetition 2 – Teacher used a series of pictures as prompts, from which students would construct a sentence.  Each student then repeated the previous student’s sentence before constructing their own.
  • Mime – Aiko supported every spoken instruction with mime, using a tick gesture, for example, when she wanted students to mark their work.  This visual addition helps reinforce the meaning of an instruction for lower level students with comprehension as well as including visual learners.
  • When drilling pronunciation Aiko used a wide variety of words to congratulate and encourage students.  One that particularly stood out was ‘thank you’ which I thought was a lovely touch.  Incidentally, I’ve noticed that I tend to over-use the word ‘lovely’ in the classroom so it’s good for me to try to use different words – not only so the praise is genuine for the student, but also to expose them to a wider range of vocabulary.
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