Teaching Students at Kitano

Juhi Gore

Assistant English Teacher, KITANO Senior High School juhi1

I remember that I felt quite daunted at the prospect of having to teach at Kitano. The previous Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) had told me that it was rumoured to be the best high school in Osaka. I also remember travelling to the Awina Hotel with some other ALT's when the Board Of Education official who was with us, pointed and proudly exclaimed "that's Kitano, the most famous high level school in Osaka!" From just those comments I expected my students to be highly motivated, very serious and extremely self confident.

The students of Kitano SHS are highly intelligent. Within a couple of months of teaching there, one first year student had discussed the El Nino phenomenon with me, and another first year student had asked me my opinions on the Louise Woodward Trial (the British nanny accused of murdering a baby in America.) Even the students who struggle a little in my Oral Communication class possess a higher than average capability for learning.

As for my assumption that all the students would be very serious, well, I couldn't have been more wrong. During my initial couple of weeks the students were shy and quiet, however by my third week of teaching at Kitano, the students felt free to shout greeting to me down the hallway and to teach me phrases of Osaka-ben aswell as high school slang (e.g Juhi sensei - chiwas!) I love all my students at Kitano although I confess to being especially fond of those who have had the courage and confidence to mimic my speech and mannerisms in their English presentations! I've also been flattered and touched by students in the past who have come to the staffroom in their lunch hour just to chat to me, for 5-10 mins, about everything and nothing in particular.

One area however that requires improvement regards participating in class. I've noticed that whenever I ask questions students will whisper the answers amongst themselves but they will be reluctant to volunteer the answers to me. Shouldn't we encourage students at school to actively express their opinions as opposed to sitting impassively? I also think that speaking English at an advanced level is just as important as being able to read and write English at an advanced level. Towards this view, I think that it is important that Kitano somehow incorporates English Oral communication into the second year and third year timetables.

Teaching at Kitano has proved to be an invaluable year for me. Not only have I taught a lot, but I've also learned a lot from the teachers and students. I am indebted to them for having made my year such a special one.

Last Update : Jun.23,1998