Teachers' Review: Martina
I arrived in September. Having never worked in an eikaiwa, I was not sure what to expect from this experience, but I had been in Japan before so I was very thrilled to start a job in the Shizuoka prefecture.
Now, after almost three months, I can say I am very happy I found this job. The school environment is very friendly and the classes are well organised. Beside this, the owners Hiroko and her daughter Ranie are very special persons and I am lucky to have met them.
The school organises lessons from children to adults, and from beginner to advanced levels. As the classes are small sized, it is easy for the teachers to follow personally every student. Therefore, the teachers know the problems each student faces in learning English, and they are able to find personally targeted solutions.
The youngest children I teach to are 3 years old. It is amazing to see how fast children can learn a foreign language at this age, through games and fun activities. In the school there is a large variety of games and storybooks, and we also make some of the materials that we use in class. It is therefore possible to teach the same topic using different learning tools, stimulating the curiosity of the children.
Additionally, on Wednesday mornings I teach in the Minori Yochien. As the children are very little and the number of students in each class is considerably higher, we organise fun activities that children can do together in big groups, such songs and dances, or we read an interactive book in English. Children get very excited and love to do this kind of activities.
The school organises also beginner classes for adults willing to learn English. We start from the basics, and use both textbooks and other games for adults.
In the intermediate classes, the program changes according to the need of the students. While following the textbook, teachers can adapt the lesson plans to what the students are willing to focus on. For instance, in some classes I am more focused on the grammar aspect of English, while other classes prefer to develop their oral skills and so I organise activities to encourage conversation.
Furthermore, we also have free conversation classes for advanced students. According to the students’ interest, teachers choose the topics to be discussed in class. However, given the personal relationship with students, often in these classes we talk about everyday life without following a lesson plan. This makes the classes very interactive and an occasion to get together and have a laugh while practicing English conversation.
The school also organises parties for children and adults, on occasions such as Halloween or Christmas. During these parties, children can experience how these festivities are celebrated in other cultures through games and activities in English.
The Halloween party the school organised this year, featured activities such as pumpkin carving, trick or treat, pin the pumpkin and many more. All the children were very happy to engage in these games, and even happier to receive candies and goodies. The children were asked to come in a costume, Ranie sensei and I were also dressed up, and there was even a cameo of Hiroko sensei who looked amazing in her witch hat!
At the end of the party we held a costume contest, in which the best Halloween outfits were awarded a Jack-o’-lantern bag full of candies.
To sum everything up, this is a very friendly and fun place to learn English. All of my co-workers are very nice and helpful persons, and I think this creates a relaxed and amicable environment in the class.
To conclude this short review, I would like to say a few words about my employers, Hiroko and Ranie. From the first moment I came to Makinohara I felt very welcomed in Bowers’ house, and they immediately made me feel like at home.
Hiroko sensei is one of the most active and interesting women I have ever met. She is the one who started the school thirty years ago, and she is still involved with the school management and teaching. I think the right word for her in Japanese is “genki”: she is a very energetic and hilarious woman. I love to spend time with her, because she tells some amusing stories and is always up for a laugh!
Ranie is a very special person. She is very kind and generous, and always ready to help anyone. Many students often tell me that she is the nicest person they know. I think everybody who works with her, but also the students, know how much she cares about the well being of everyone she has around. She always has great ideas for the school, and I hope during the time I am here I can help her to realise them.