In early June, the average American high school student can’t manage to get to school before the bell rings. When she does arrive, she can’t sit through the remaining periods because there are mere days separating her and two months of lazy, crazy, hazy summer vacation days.
The concept of summer vacation is slightly different in Japan. Rather than spending two months on summer getaways, my students spent the first two weeks of summer vacation in summer lessons. Because my school has an athletic focus, the last two weeks are spent training for matches, meets and games. To those of of us who spent our summer days picking strawberries, scooping ice cream and procrastinating our summer reading assignments, such a concept seems daunting. However, my students seem to enjoy spending their short summer vacation at school with their teammates.
While my athletically-gifted students spent hours practicing their swings, kicks, spikes and shots, I volunteered to to be a counselor at two English camps. Although none of my students applied to attend, I am determined to convince them to take two days off of soccer and baseball practice and do so next year. I’ve already convinced them that speaking English will help them
if when they make it to the Major and Premier Leagues.
During the camps, I worked with students from all over the prefecture who have a passion for learning English. I also had the pleasure of working alongside some of the most inspiring and friendly ALTs. With our students, we played games, did scavenger hunts, made skits and took a break from our daily school routines.
I enjoyed working with both the students and my fellow English-teaching friends in a more relaxed atmosphere. One of the most rewarding and enjoyable parts about teaching in Japan is seeing students express their personalities in English. Having confidence, a sense of humor and courage is hard enough for any 15- or 16-year-old, however, when asked to display these traits in a foreign language, the task could seem completely impossible. But, not for these kids. Their eagerness, curiosity and happiness was contagious and made me remember what a joy it is to be living and teaching English in Japan.