In Global Gateway as an undergraduate, working with international students made me be more thoughtful about parts of teaching that I never had to be in the US with students I share a cultural background with. It was a valuable experience and made me want to do it again through the OPET program. It was also a great opportunity to visit my host country again!
I was co-teaching five sections of different levels of English to university students in Fukuyama, Japan. The professor I taught with did a great job of truly co-teaching, getting me involved in conversation and asking me to take the lead more and more after each class. The level of English-speaking varied across classes which was a great opportunity to practice differentiating instruction, planning for different levels of learners, and adapting for students within each section.
A Typical Day
I taught 2-3 classes over the course of each day. Between each class, my cooperating professor and I would break down how class went, plan future lessons, and share feedback. Working with the students was my favorite part of the experience. Many of them were beginners, but our conversations gave them a chance to use their and English and I got to learn about them and what it’s like growing up in Japan.
Working with the students was my favorite part of the experience. Many of them were beginners, but our conversations gave them a chance to use their and English and I got to learn about them and what it’s like growing up in Japan.
I worked with a few other English Professors to promote English-speaking opportunities for students. For example, I joined a few meetings of the English club and helped make videos introducing common English greetings to be shown around campus. I was even able to visit two local high schools to see how chemistry and physics classes look in Japan.
Bringing the Experience Home
In Japan, I had to be sure to make instructions and expectations very clear. I learned how to demonstrate activities and do quick checks to make sure no one is lost from my cooperating teacher. I still do these same checks in my classroom now, and it seems simple, but teaching abroad made me incorporate them into my teaching in more meaningful ways than if I had just tried them out in my classroom at home. They help just as much with my American students, too.
Advice for Future Teacher Participants
I know three weeks isn’t a long time, and it goes by so quick while teaching, but I think teachers should try to get involved in school activities outside of the classroom as much as possible. Students are always excited to get to know you and it’s a great way to really immerse yourself in your host nation’s culture.