OSCA Japan 2012

This is a sample of one teacher's experiences of OSCA in Japan in 2012. Other teachers' schedules varied.

Kobe Gakuin University High School

A well-performing high school in the middle of Kobe, three OSCA teachers will teach here for a week and a half. They will also do a homestay with a student at the same time. The teaching here is incredibly fun as this age group is very rewarding to teach, because while their English is very, very basic their enthusiasm is endless. All three teachers may need to tweak their lesson plans to fit the limited English abilities of this school, but it is a great feeling to see them using the words you’ve taught them and seeing them really eager to do a good job. They all had amazing, funny, memorable personalities and last year we became greatfriends with a lot of them!

The structure of the camp involved regular school hours with mornings taken up with lessons and afternoons taken up with a drama activity, teaching three small classes of about 10 students each. Example lesson plans include an English summer, jobs, and entertainment. The afternoon drama activity can be challenging as the school gives you (as with every aspect of the teaching) near-complete freedom about what to do, except that you need have a performance by the end. We split the group up into two halves and created two rival plays including dance performances about celebrity stories. 

The accommodation for this stream is of course fantastic. The families are all incredibly generous and very willing to go above and beyond to make us feel at home and to show us around Japan. One family took their host teacher to Kyoto and to an onsen (a Japanese bath). It is a good idea to try and talk to your family as much as possible, even if their English is limited, to get to know them as you best you can!

Kobe College

This is an example university stream for two teachers which lasts a week, while other university streams may involve larger groups of teachers or just one teacher, and last six days  (Kobe Shinwa Women’s University, one teacher) or two weeks (Kobe University, four teachers). Every OSCA Japan teacher will teach at a university at some point, or may do most of their teaching in universities. Each university stream also has a unique structure of teaching, with a mix of conversational classes, given this age group’s higher standard of English, and speaking activities such as presentations or drama activities.

Kobe College is also a residential camp, and the two teachers live with their fifteen or so female students (it’s also a women’s university) on-campus, to the east of Kobe in a suburb called Nishinomiya. You live in a huge American-style house surrounded by forests on a very large hill. It’s an incredible if totally unexpected experience: you wake up every morning to the roar of crickets in surrounding woods! The students are all amazing, fun, and super motivated to learn English given that they’ve signed up for the course during their summer.

The structure of the course is very organised and set by the Kobe College representative. Mornings begin with a two conversation classes taught to half the students, followed by the other half. Because the university students are older, conversation topics can range into their (and our) interests, from politics, women’s rights, dating, cultural differences, and so on. In the afternoons the students practice a presentation about Japanese culture with they then present to us, their teachers. It is incredibly rewarding to teach this group of young women really important presentation and confidence skills which they can use their whole lives, and their progress is fantastic to watch!

JETS / HIA learners’ programmes

These are streams where you teach senior adult learners. These students are often retired businessmen or older housewives who have taken up English learning as a hobby. They are always interesting characters to get to know who have amazing stories to tell. Their English is often very very good, especially in comparison to high school and university students, so you can really push the envelope on teaching topics, with discussions of politics, the army, the death penalty in Japan and English government all successful. Teaching adult learners usually involves extended conversation classes on topics of interest rather than formal teaching, but this needs to be structured as well. The JETS teaching stream lasts for two weeks but is taught by two different teachers each week, while the HIA stream lasts for three days. The JETS teachers are hosted by the organiser of JETS, a lovely Japanese woman who is super eager to run socials for all the OSCA teachers (including a karaoke!) while HIA teachers live in the Hotel Sunroute Sopra Kobe.