April 13, 2010 - 12:00am
PJ Standlee (TESOL '11) shares highlights from his three years with the JET programme:
The programme sent me to Gifu, an area known as the "belly button of Japan." I couldn't find much information about the city, and I didn't speak Japanese. I couldn't even say "My name is..."
When we arrived on the bullet train, my JET mentor Tanaka Senya (right) walked over and said, "Hi, how are you? Why are you wearing that tie? Let's go." He would become my second father, guiding me through this journey.
As a teacher and cultural ambassador for Ikeda High School, my students led me in unexpected directions.
As they grew weary of learning about English and American culture, our lessons needed a little more spice. Teaching them how to give instructions, I created a video on how to make tacos with Mexican ingredients, which were hard to come by. The cheese was incredibly expensive! Later my students made tacos Japanese-style (with hotdogs instead of ground beef) for their cultural festival.
I also had the opportunity to work with Professor Keiko Takahashi on a three year pilot program, which emphasized oral communication as the foundation of language learning. Not many schools were willing to take a risk with their curriculum, to break from the tradition of preparing students for the grammar, translation, and written proficiency requirements of the college entrance examination.
But we set out to prove that our methods were as effective, if not better, and presented our findings at a national conference of English teachers.
PJ hopes to master the theory and practice of teaching through our TESOL program and return to Japan after graduation - even though the language continues to vex him!