Week 4 meant my return to Tokyo and strictly teaching in Shinjuku for the remaining 3 weeks. I teamed up with Lexy, who was a postgraduate Geography and Ethnic Studies major, and one of my co-teachers from a week prior. She was a complete pleasure to teach with and we had a lovely group of girls who were all a bit shy to start with.
It is especially tough to work with a group of students who are all at different levels. 3 of our 4 students were at a mid-high level English range, and 1 was lower level. The lower level student and one of the higher level students were unconfident in their English abilities, often finding it hard to express their opinions as clearly as they wanted. I can relate quite easily to this. I find it difficult to speak up in Japanese, even though I have studied for 2 years. I haven’t had enough practice in being able to express my opinions and even exchanging mild pleasantries in Japanese terrifies me.
Working together with Lexy, we split up the teaching, each of us prioritizing 2 students whenever they had to write something out or if they were brainstorming on their own. It made it more personalized and easier for them to voice their questions and opinions on occasionally sensitive issues. Voicing your inner thoughts and feelings, even for me, to a group can be nerve wracking.
One of my favorite students this entire program was in this week of teaching; Chihiro. She was so much fun and we had a lot of conversations because she was interested in Philosophy, something I had taken a fair amount of classes in and am personally interested in. She became interested in Philosophy, specifically the idea of Justice, after watching a lecture on TV by Michael Sandel, a Philosophy professor from Harvard. We had to do an exercise that week where the students wrote a letter to someone they admired. She wrote a letter to Michael Sandel, to which I took a photo of it. Then I looked up Michael Sandel’s email address and emailed him the letter hoping he’d respond. He did about 4 days later, to which I then forwarded it to Chihiro. I was so glad that the both of them were really excited about each other’s correspondence and I felt really happy for facilitating it.