Why are salaries kept secret by universities in Japan? Shouldn*t that be one of the first things that universities reveal? Teachers after all, have bills to pay. If all universities paid the same, this point would be moot. However, pay varies greatly in Japan. So why is it verbotten to ask about pay during a job interview. The danger of not knowing the pay is a disappointed teacher, followed by a disappointed university when said teacher quits due to a low salary. Thankfully, we have James Devereaux on the case. Please read what Devereaux has to say about his survey below.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has noticed that university teaching jobs in Japan like those advertised on sites like J-Rec almost never give salary information on part-time jobs. This might be ok if there wasn’t such a huge variation in what some schools pay and what others manage to get away with not paying. I’ve quit jobs in the past simply because of the economics of what I was being paid and what I was expected to do as a part-time teacher didn’t add up. I think we can agree that we’d all be in a better position as teachers if we knew in advance what we would be compensated before we started the process of hoop-jumping that is applying for jobs which can involve writing essays and other time-consuming work. To try to fix this and even the playing field a bit I’ve started collecting anonymous reports of salary and other conditions from schools around Japan. So far I’ve only collected information from friends but I thought it would be much better if I could put out an anonymous google form survey and reach a lot of teachers that way. I’m planning to make this information public on a website when I have enough of it. I initially thought about collecting email addresses on the survey so I could let people know the results, but I since decided against that as naturally people would be concerned about privacy. As such I’ve decided to keep the survey anonymous and announce the results here at a later date.If you would be able to take five or ten minutes out of your day to help me and other teachers in Japan then I’d really appreciate it. Also one final thing! This survey is only for part-time University teachers. I’m planning to do more surveys for other teaching jobs in the future if this is a success. Cheers and thanks for reading Read More and participate in the Survey at Facebook at the Link below:
There are similarities and differences between Adults and Young Learners (YL) as language learners. It is important to remember learners are all individuals so the ideas below are general not specific to a learner type.
* Can deal with abstract concepts
* Can deal with meta-linguistics
* Can work independently
* Understands discourse e.g. will listen to what the other person says & use it to shape their response
* Generally internalize all language during individual tasks
* Have decided to study English for their own reasons
* Need drilling
* Need clear goals & purposes for all tasks
* Needs language presented in context
* Require a variety of learning strategies/styles to be present in a lesson
* Need concrete (not abstract) vocabulary
* Need a lot of emotional support
* Must have clear, obvious meanings to all phrases
* Enjoy playing with language, including non-grammatical utterances
* Often externalize language during individual tasks
* Are studying English because they are required to
* Adults: have personal reasons for choosing to study English. They are able to view language as an object in itself and can analyse and break it down in to structures and forms. They have a greater life experience and are more able to organize their own study
* Young Learners: Are usually studying because their parents want them to. They do not necessarily see the value of the language in itself and must be presented with clear, personalized goals. They cannot break language down metalinguistically and need meaning to be clear and self evident.
* Both: Everyone needs language to be relevant, personalized. Basic lesson elements (presentation, drilling, concept checking, correction, feedback) are universal to all learners.
Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)
The distance between what a learner can do alone and what they can do with guidance from another (teacher or peer). This represents a different way of looking at a learner’s level. Rather than looking at what they can do now, it looks at what the learner could reasonably
achieve with help (scaffolding). This help usually comes from someone at a more advanced level. In children’s classes usually the teacher but it could also be strong peer. Scaffolding can be from other sources, textbooks etc.
So rather than looking at what your learners can do, consider what they could achieve if assisted. With this help the learner’s language level will hopefully move into the gap between their current language level and the language level they may achieve.
This is speech intended only for oneself; it is often used to clarify language or to overcome problems. As adults this is usually internalised, not said aloud, while YL tend to externalise it and talk to themselves.
This is a good thing as research indicates a link between the use of private speech and academic achievement. Private speech enables learners to get a clear mental image and is useful to overcome problems. Learners think about the language, produce it and so hear it again. All helping to boost understanding and uptake. As such they should be encouraged to use private speech, demonstrate doing the task yourself with externalised private speech for learners to use as a model. Naturally, this means you must accept a higher level of noise in your classes. Hopefully private speech would be in L2 but even in L1 it will provide the learners with help and support during the task. Remember many YL are unable to internalise their thoughts and must talk themselves through any task they undertake.
Motivation: Intrinsic & Extrinsic
Motivation is crucial in the classroom. While in many YL classes Extrinsic motivation is higher (driven by external factors e.g. parental pressure) Intrinsic motivation (driven by internal needs or wants) should also be present. We can and should be helping them develop intrinsic reasons for studying.
In order to do this we need to:
* create fun interesting lessons the learners enjoy
* create goals the learners want to achieve
* allow them to express themselves
* provide a social function where learners can interact with each other and you
* provide praise and emotional support that makes learners feel good about themselves.
Motivation can be broken down into two types:
* Integrative orientation usually occurs when the learner is placed in an L2 environment and wishes to communicate or be part of that group. As such, when the learners all share the same L1 it is difficult for this to occur authentically in the classroom. However young learners enjoy communicating and being part of a group. Communicative and collaborative activities work well and encourage integration and interaction. Example activities: singing songs together, expressing opinion (e.g. I like… I don’t like…), closed pair activities, ball drills, classroom interactions (jokes etc).
* Instrumental orientation is focussed on the completion of a task or achieving a goal. Learners are motivated to use the language in order to achieve this. Example activities:
pelmanism (pairs), memory games, gap fills, competitive games, craft activities (completing the project.
When teaching TL lessons/activities should be:
1. Full of practice: Learners have the opportunity to use the language themselves in a number of activities of different types.
2. Supported: Learner is helped by the teacher or other learners to produce the language and/or complete the task
3. Meaningful: Language is real or has a purpose the learner can easily relate to or understand.
4. Purposeful: There is a reason to use the language, and learners need to perform an action in order to complete the task or transaction.
5. Enjoyable: Learners are interested in and get enjoyment from the language or activity.
6. Social: Learners have a chance to interact with others and try to recreate real scenarios.
For example: Shop role play Activity
Some learners are shoppers, some are shop keepers. Learners move round the class buying items.
1. Full of practice: Learners go round a number of different shops to do the role play. Roles can be reversed (Shoppers become shop keepers) and the activity run again.
2. Supported: Teacher draws picture of a high street on the board. Teacher monitors and joins in to ensure the transaction occurs.
3. Meaningful: Genuine real life situation, learners are familiar with it. Activity is intuitive.
4. Purposeful: Learners receive items. The language serves a practical purpose (to receive the correct item).
5. Enjoyable: Children enjoy let’s pretend. Children get to receive items.
6. Social: Children work round a number of different shops talking to different people.
Activities in YL classes are more likely to be successful if theses 6 factors are present.
As with all learners the pace and structure of the lesson is crucial. There are problems if learners are sitting for too long especially doing tasks that require a lot of concentration (learners will become bored and lose motivation, tasks will become dull and learners may not produce the target language) or up and moving around for too long (learners may get over excited, become louder and louder, teacher may have trouble keeping control, learner will lose concentration)
It is better to pace the lessons so you are alternating between sitting down and moving activities or stir and settle activities.
* Settle activities allow learners to regain concentration and focus on the lesson; they are often slower paced, and can be more individual work.
* Stir activities can get learners attention if it has started to wander; learners are re-energised into the lesson. Activities are often more physical and require interaction between learners.
While there is not necessarily one correct way to stage the YL lesson generally speaking YL lessons follow the stages below:
* Practice 1
* Practice 2
* Reading activity
* Writing activity
* Final activity
Planning for YL should generally follow a fast-slow-fast pace, although 2 settle or 2 stir activities can be back to back if they are both short. Reading and writing activities do not have to be settle activities e.g. run and circle words on the board.
Cultural topics are a great source of interest and communication for learners of English – after all, if the culture of a community does not interest you then learning the language of the community will not interest you either.
Also understanding more about a culture helps with your understanding of how people from that culture communicate which makes learning how to communicate much easier. Language and culture are inseparable.
So, what aspects do we teach? Whenever we speak about our culture to learners, we have to consider what is relevant and interesting and what is not. If the information we choose is too specific it risks being ‘refused’ by learners who possibly in turn feels unconnected with learning that particular point.
So, the cultural topics we choose have to be relatively general and accessible (unless specifically requested by learners) so we do not lose the interest of learners.
Another thing to be aware of is to encourage communication between the learners not the teacher. Asking a teacher to talk about their culture is like asking for their life story and learners are more than happy to sit back passively and “listen”. But is it doing them any good? Doubtful. We need to present our culture topic in a way that inspires learners to pass comment, make comparisons and deliver opinions.
For example: ‘Families’. As someone from England I would be discussing English families, but another teacher may talk about Scottish families or South African families etc. The materials should invite comparison, not just between various English-speaking cultures but from the learners’ culture too.
The first task would have learners, in pairs/groups, talk about their family and compare their ideas with another pair/group. Next, they think about their families in general and talk about those. So at least five minutes in and so far, all the teacher has uttered are a few instructions.
A short text is presented to learners to read. This should ideally use short sentences, general statements and where appropriate some clear statistics. This can be handled in different ways in the class, for example:
1. Teacher develops some comprehension questions and in pairs/small groups learners work together to answer the questions.
2. Cut out the paragraphs and have learners (in pairs/groups):
– put them back together in the correct order.
– prepare a short report what they found out, for their individual paragraph/text
– complete a true or false activity, as a mingle activity
– information-exchange – learners share missing information
These make the tasks more learner-centred/communicative and places focus on learners and gives them something to talk about. While also limiting the teacher’s contribution to instructions, clarification and prompting, rather than long, involved explanations.
In conclusion, it helps to deal with ‘new’ cultural information by comparing it with ‘familiar’ cultural information as it is this use of the familiar that enables learners to speak about the topic. A cultural lesson, as with all lessons, needs to be focused, with all the typical EFL skills (elicitation; pair work; prediction skills etc.) and essentially it must be learner-centred.
What are your favourite cultural topics? How do you approach this?
Warmers are great because they are fun and communicative, they should take around five
minutes, be very simple to set up and a good way to review or practise language. Learners
typically need a little ‘warming up’ at the start of each lesson. By varying your activities,
making them brief and purposeful learners will be more energized and focused towards
dealing with the target language of the lesson.
By varying the warmers you can keep learners on their toes and interested.
Warmers should not involve presenting or learning ‘new’ language, they should only involve
language learners already know or have learnt recently. They should also be brief, the idea
is to energise learners rather than let the warmer dominate the lesson.
Below are a few warmers. Some you will probably know already and some hopefully will be
new. Let me know what your favourite warmers are.
Stand learners in a circle, say “My name’s….” and ask, “What’s your name?” while throwing
the ball to a learner. Indicate that they are to do the same until everyone has spoken. Next
throw the ball to a learner while saying their name and continue around the group. Stating
likes and dislikes, how old are you? Have you ever? etc can extend this activity.
Write the names of famous people / characters on enough post-it notes for everyone in the
class. Each person has a post-it note on their back and with a partner they have to ask and
answer questions to guess who they are. Alternatively this can be played using fruit /
classroom nouns / animals etc.
Meet ‘n’ Greet
Similar to the post-it game except the names of people are not kept secret but openly
displayed. Learners are at a ‘party’ and must mingle, meet and greet each other in
Back To The Board / Taboo
In two teams A and B: One person from A sits with their back to the board. Team B writes a
word on the whiteboard that team A have to explain to their teammate. They cannot say
the word or mime/gesticulate. Allow a time limit of 1 minute per go.
Odd One Out
Prepare some vocabulary lists (5 or 6 items) (E.g. kettle, microwave, saucepan, etc.). In
pairs/small groups learners find the word that does not fit and why.
In pairs and hand out a sheet of paper. Learners write the name of a man and met (e.g. Elvis
met…) at the top of the page and the fold the paper over and pass it along. The next person
writes the name of a woman and at (e.g. Madonna at & place) learners continue passing the
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‘story’ around until eight folds have been written on or the story comes back to the first
writer. Once complete the learner opens the page and reads “their” story. Learners decide
who has the best/funniest/saddest story.
Not Yes Or No
A learner stands at the front of the group and the other learners have to ask them questions
to try and force them to respond with either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The learner should answer the
questions as quickly and honestly as possible. Once they say yes or no another learner takes
their place. This can be played in small groups too.
Draw A Word
In 2 teams, A & B: Team B whispers a word to a member of team A, who then draws a
representation of it at the board. Team A has to guess the word (E.g. a picture of clocks to
elicit the word ‘Time’) again, set a time limit. Points are awarded for correct guesses.
Board 15 words learners know. Have them write 5 of the words on a piece of paper (or in
their notebooks). Next call out the words at random (as in bingo) and learners tick off the
words they have written down. The first one to tick off all their words is the winner.
One learner sits with their back to the board. Write a sentence behind them (E.g. He must
be ill.) The group are witnesses and orally suggest concrete evidence of the situation (He is
sitting in the doctors / he has a temperature etc.) until the learner guesses the situation.
Tell learners you have an object to give away and the person or team that comes up with
the most imaginative reason for having it ‘win’ the object. Try to include desirable objects
(Ferrari) with undesirable objects (an empty tin can).
Draw The Teacher
Draw 2 ovals on the board and put the class in 2 teams. Say “They are eyes!” and the two
leading learners (one from each team) run up and draw eyes on the oval. Then return to the
start point and repeat – “they are eyes”. The pen is passed to the next learners in line and
the teacher calls out “It’s a nose” etc. The first learner to correctly draw the face parts and
identify them wins a point. This can be made more fun by making it clear to the learners the
oval is YOUR (the teacher’s) face, learners can enjoy – with your permission – making fun of
This will also work if you want to do body parts as well. Just draw the basic torso instead of
ovals. If learners are unsure as to which facial/body part it is just point to it. Another
variation could be for naming parts of animals. The resulting picture would be a monster.
i.e. peacock’s tail, snake’s head, elephant feet, bat’s wings, etc.
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Each pair has a coin (or counter that will spin). One learner has to say as many sentences or
words in the target language as they can before the coin stops spinning. Their partner needs
to count and the one who says the most wins. Winners could compete in “spin offs”.
Prepare a text containing prepositions. Remove all the propositions and have them written
on pieces of paper, then put them in an envelope. In groups give each an envelope. Learners
should listen to the text and whenever you raise your hand they should bring you a suitable
preposition the fastest correct team wins points. Points can be deducted for a wrong
Pass It On
This is a chanting activity involving rhythm and vocabulary. Sit learners in a circle and review
the vocab (eg animals). Take one card and place it on the floor face down in front of the
learners. Build up a simple clapping rhythm chanting “Pass it on! Pass it on!” make sure this
is slow enough to allow learners time to pass the card, face down, along the floor. Stop the
clapping after 3 or 4 beats and the learner who has the card in front of them to pick it up.
Everyone asks “What is it?” and the student responds “It’s a X”. This can be played with
plastic food, toy animals etc.
Have 2 learners come to the front of the class. Choose two flashcards at random and keep
them secret. Attach a flashcard to the back of each player with a paper clip so neither
learner can see what it is. Learners face each other and do ‘sumo’ poses with their hands
behind their backs. They have to the count of 100 to try to see the other persons’ card
without using their hands. Once they call out the correct answer they are they winning
sumo wrestler. Keep other learners busy by having them count together loudly 1 to 100.
Board the following word tree/maze (or on a large piece of paper). At the end of each
‘branch’ add sounds you want the learners to practice – in this case ‘th’ &‘s’. At the bottom
of the tree draw four objects to review (or add flashcards) – in this case cat, dog, monkey
and bird. Learners follow clues given by the teacher (E.g. ‘three shirts’ for th + s) to follow
the tree down to one of the four pictures (E.g. bird). The first learner to shout out the
correct object becomes the teacher.
Learners stand in a circle facing inwards. Choose a topic to review (E.g. fruit). Learners pass
the balloon around the circle by batting it towards each other. Each time the balloon is hit
the learner must say the name of a fruit. The game can be more challenging by adding
numbers for every fifth hit of the balloon (E.g. 1, orange, plum, lemon, 5, cherry etc).
What are your favourite warmers?
Sophia McMillan Oct 2019