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JAPAN | Wednesday, 24 January 2007 | Views [2471] | Comments [6]

Today was the last day of my 9 month contract teaching at Kokubunji High School. I had a great time teaching here, and if it wasn't for the length of time travelling and some other minor things, I probably would have taken them up on the offer of an extention.

Whenever I told people that I worked at Kokubunji High, the responses were always along the lines of "ah, bright students", or, "you must be clever to study there". It is true that to get into this school you must take an entrance exam, but I am sure this is the same for the rest of Japan also. However, Kokubunji really is a model school. For example, all the classrooms are well decked out with computers at every desk, media players and huge white boards- a far cry from the (and I can find no other word) shitty port-a-cabins I used to take lessons in whilst a student of Richard Gwyn.

Another favourable aspect of the school was the cleanliness- students are actually proud of their school. The school is old, but the paintwork is immaculate, there is no graffiti anywhere, the toilets are spotless, and of course, shoes are not allowed to be worn inside. Each student (and their are over 2,000) have their own shoe-sized locker in which to keep slippers. Would you send your child to this kind of school?

There were some exceptional students who really threw themselves into speaking English with me in our classes. I say "speaking" and not "studying" English, because my lessons were designed to get the most speaking possible out of them. The students have been learning grammar for at least 5 years (my class ages are around 16) so ask them to write something, and away they go, happy as Larry. However, speaking is totally different, because they haven't practised doing this.

Before becoming a language student myself, I thought that if you knew the words, you could speak them- simple. I kind of regret giving some of my Chinese and Korean students a bad time now! My Japanese writing is a lot better than my speaking, where I make a lot more mistakes. So through role plays, movies, idioms, conversations and presentations, I tried to get them out of their seats and speaking.

Here in lies the rub. I have found that Japanese people have a severe allergy to making mistakes in public. I told my students that it is OK to make as many mistakes as they liked. I would rather have three sentences with two wrong coming out of their mouth rather than one perfect sentence. (I would like to say thank you to Kana-chan here, who took this point to heart). At the beginning, students would simply not speak!

All in all though, I think our classes were fun, interesting and enjoyable for the students, who, through the Japanese education system endure a torrid time, as far as I'm concerned. (8 until 4.30- no thanks).There were a few exceptional students of English who I hope continue their studies further. I would also like to say a huge thank you to Kawanishi-sensei and Eriko, who made my time their go smoothly, and for waiting patiently for my work permit to arrive- the best of luck to you all.....

Stay tuned- From Sunday the United Kingdom folder will be open!

Tags: Culture



You forgot to mention the salary for public teaching jobs- 5,000 p/hour right?

  Bob the builder Jan 25, 2007 9:18 AM


It was a good salary, but if you factor in the cost of living in Tokyo, plus the "quality" of the service that the school and pupils were getting, you could argue that it was money well spent.

  dan_in_japan Jan 25, 2007 5:47 PM


It's to difficult for Japanese to speak English, not to speak of in public,even in friends. Because We don't have the habit of speaking our opinion, for good or bad, much less bad English.
So,such a character, it's to difficult for English teacher to make students speak english.
But they would gain encourage by your praise,Dan!

  Natsuo Jan 26, 2007 2:53 AM


Hi Dan!

I'm an Australian living in Kokubunji and used to work in an Australian high school. Im wondering how you got work in the public system. Directly or through an agent company?

See ya


  Dan Crowther Mar 14, 2007 12:19 PM


Hi Dan!

I'm an Australian living in Kokubunji and used to work in an Australian high school. Im wondering how you got work in the public system. Directly or through an agent company?

See ya


  Dan Crowther Mar 14, 2007 1:00 PM


Hi....I am also interested to study Japanese language in Japan; Kokubunji. May I get any information about the Japanese language school that has program of teaching to foreign students?

  Robin Jun 9, 2010 3:55 PM

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