ESL 4 kids, in Japan, is extremely rewarding, but if you come from a serious, academic background, you might find it frustrating at first. The problem you see, stems from the fact that even in elementary schools, language learning isn’t seen as a serious subject. In fact, you might even find, that the class you were hired to teach, isn’t even called English Class. At my school for example, English class is called, Gaikokugo katsudo or Foreign Language Activities. And reading the book published by the Japanese Ministry of Education (MEXT), you’ll find out that the goal of language classes in Japan, at the elementary school level, is what the government calls foreign language experience or FLEX. You’ll also notice that in this same book, there is a large emphasis placed on fun. So if you have collegiate training in English as a second language, you’re going to have to change your tactics to get along well in the elementary-school system, and that’s what this article is all about.
The biggest change you can make as an ESL teacher, is to change your attitude towards how you view your students. In fact, they are not your students, they are your customers, and this is because, if the children like you, then the administration will want to renew your contract the next year. If the children find you stuffy and boring, you can expect to be doing job searches come next April and it really is as simple as that so keep your customers happy.
Okay so a lot of people have problems with the idea of edutainment. A lot of people just can’t accept that children can have fun while learning. I’m telling you, you had better embrace the idea of edutainment, because it is specifically what the Japanese government is looking for in their language program. And because that’s what the government wants, and that’s what you’re getting paid to do, then really, you shouldn’t feel bad about playing games in English class. Now I know at first, you’re going to be resistant to the idea of playing games but over time, it’s something that you’ll embrace.
Finally, don’t be afraid of the children. Dare to make a funny face or crack a joke, and ultimately you’ll be rewarded for it. During recess time, go outside and play with the kids. It doesn’t even matter if you can’t speak Japanese at all. Get to know their hobbies and favorite cartoons. If you can, try to figure out ways to use magic in the classroom. Make mistakes. Children love correcting you and if you claim an apple is an orange, they’ll let you know. Ultimately, patience and an easy-going attitude, are two necessities for success.
I’ve been teaching elementary-school ESL, for five years now and I don’t want to teach anything else. Every day I come to work, my job is so much fun, and seeing all those smiling faces, eager to come to English class and I have a hard time believing that I actually get paid for what I do. One of the best jobs for foreigners in Japan? I’d have to say it’s teaching ESL 4 kids.