Wednesday, 19 May 2010

On life as a JET (2)

I thought I should say something about my weekly teaching schedule, since I said this blog would be about my time on JET as well as my time after.

As I said before, I teach at two high schools. On Monday, Tuesday and Friday I teach at Tokushima Commercial High School (Tokusho). Since last April I have taught only second year Oral Communication classes. Oral Communication is one of the components of high school English and is considered separate (it's tested separately) from English I and English II (which are mainly grammar courses). I go through the textbook with the students, and for each lesson in the textbook I also make a handout that includes a communication activity. There are eight classes in each grade at Tokusho, and between 32 and 39 students in each class. I see each class once a week, and classes are 50 minutes long (or 45 minutes on Monday) with ten minute breaks in between. Unlike back home where the students move between classrooms for different subjects, most lessons in Japan are taught in the homeroom class. At Tokusho, when the students go into second year they enter one of about six different business courses. Often certain courses will have higher levels of English than others, though of course every student is different and there may be high level students in typically low level classes, and vice versa.

The same is true at Tokushima Prefectural High School of Science and Technology (Tokushima Kagaku Gijutsu Koukou, or "Kagikou" for short). It's a brand-spanking new school that opened in April 2009 (I must be one of a select few ALTs who've attended a school-opening ceremony) when three other Tokushima High Schools were merged - Tokushima Technical High School (which was located at the site of the new school, and of which some buildings remain), Tokushima East Technical High School (where I used to work) and Tokushima Prefectural Fisheries High School. Unlike Tokusho, students are already divided into courses from first year, though will also change classes in second year depending on their specialisation (for example, first year science students may choose information science or environmental science in second year). There are eleven classes in each grade, though the classes are smaller than Tokusho - on average between 25 and 33 students per class, though in the marine department there are two classes - one with twenty students and the other with ten. I'm one of two ALTs at this school (the other being the ALT from the old technical high). We teach only first year since the school opened. Last year, the other ALT had six classes and I had five, and this year it was swapped round. Between Tokusho and Kagiko, and excluding any disruptions to the schedule (which are in fact ridiculously common) I should have fourteen classes a week.

Okay, that's the boring background down. Next time I might say something remotely interesting.

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