OSCA Japan 2014

OSCA Japan gives you a great opportunity to teach a wide range of students, make really close friends and immerse yourself in an amazingly rich culture. It is very different to the other OSCA camps in that the teachers are often very independent, teaching on their own and living apart from each other. Whist it is certainly a challenging camp the rewards are undoubtedly worth it. I had an incredible time and I can't wait to go back! 

 

Week 1

In the summer of 2014, 9 teachers and 1 camp director set off to Kobe Japan, looking forward to just over a month of teaching. Before we arrived we had all been given the contact details of our schools and our host families which enabled us to tailor our lessons plans to the individual schools and to get in touch with our Japanese families. Upon arrival we had just over a day to recover in the hotel from any jet lag and to explore central Kobe – following that we were thrown into lots of different conversation classes in and around Kobe!
Hyogo International Association threw us a huge party to officially welcome us to Japan and to give us an opportunity to meet the representatives from the different schools and universities at which we would be teaching. Following the party our group of ten split up across the city as we moved into our different schools and stayed with our host families. The first few days were such a whirlwind and we were all astounded by the friendliness, helpfulness and generosity of everyone we met – this continued all the way through the camp. Adjusting to life in Japan (the complicated train systems, the unfamiliar street signs and the different social customs) was a little daunting at first, but it was so much fun to jump in at the deep end and get to know Japan from the inside.
 
 
Weeks 2-3

Kobe University High School

After saying an emotional goodbye with my first host family I was greeted by another family who lived in a different part of the city. I stayed with this second family for a fantastic two weeks – one of the guys in my house was also my student at the Kobe University High School. (And the house was only a two minute walk from the school!) The family took me in like one of their own and we went to onsen (Japanese style baths), a firework festival and ate SO MUCH amazing food.
I taught at the high school with another OSCA teacher and we directed a fortnight of lessons for 20 students between the ages of 14 and 17. They were divided into two classes, an intermediate class and an advanced class. Whilst the level of English was variable, some of the students were almost fluent, having spent several years living in England or the US.
We taught a broad range of topics and led afternoon activities including Dragons’ Den, writing and performing fairy tale dramas, conducting Presidential elections and designing the opening ceremony of the Japanese 2020 Olympic Games. On one of the weekends we also went on a school trip to the Rokko mountains, where we canoed on a lake, made a bonfire and did some more drama.
We were supported by several incredible teachers at the school, and we often went for dinner with them in the evenings. The students were also really fun and they took us out into Kobe, and on the weekends showed us around Kyoto and Osaka. It was sad to say goodbye!             

 

 

Weeks 4-5 

Kobe University

 
In the last two weeks I moved into a hotel in central Kobe with several of the other teachers and taught at Kobe University as a team of five OSCA teachers.There were 40 students taking part in the camp, the majority of whom studied intercultural studies and had an interest in travel and working abroad. The students were spilt up into 5 classes of 8 students - we rotated lessons in the morning in the small groups and came together in the afternoons for some whole group activities including going to the beach, looking around the science museum and taking part in a cooking class.
It was really fun teaching the students; again, the level of English was pretty high and this meant that we could base lessons around discussions and debates. It was really fun teaching people who are your own age because the class dynamic can be really relaxed and you can become good friends with the students.
 
 
 
 
Reflections and post-camp
 
OSCA Japan was such a rewarding experience – it is so satisfying to see your students improve and build in confidence. Many of the students transform by the end of the camps as they become more self-assured and start to use English in really creative and fun ways.
Whilst I always taught with other OSCA teachers and taught school and university students, other teachers had very different teaching experiences, sometimes teaching on their own with small groups of adults and leading conversation classes rather than teaching in a classroom setting. There is no ‘one’ teaching experience in Japan!
I think the key to enjoying the Japan camp is being flexible and really throwing yourself into all of the opportunities that are put in front of you. The Japanese people I worked with and lived with were all incredibly friendly and welcoming and they did everything they could to make me feel at home.
I, like many of the other teachers, rounded off my trip with some travelling around the rest of Japan. I was lucky enough to stay with one of my host families again before visiting Nara, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Mount Fuji and Tokyo. It was an excellent way to conclude my teaching experience in Japan.
If you like a challenge, and getting to know new people and teaching in exciting and creative ways, Japan is definitely the camp for you!