Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Teaching teachers 教える人を教える

Hello everyone! This is Jaa from the Japan Foundation Bangkok again. I guess that September might be the end of summer or the beginning of autumn in Japan, but in Thailand we are in the middle of our rainy season, which starts around May and can last until October. And... this year it has really rained a lot. There is some serious flooding in some parts of Thailand, particularly in the central region. I hope that the situation gets better really soon for those people suffering from the floods.


Back to JF Bangkok office, and for this blog I have some interviews for you guys. Apart from my Arts and Culture Department, I’d like to introduce some activities from our Japanese Language Department.


Since I started working here, every year I’ll see new group of teachers who come here to study Japanese intensively for one year in order to go back and teach Japanese in their schools. They are from schools all over Thailand. So I took this chance to interview my colleague who oversees this course and three teachers who participated in the course this year.



Noppawan Boonsom: teacher, Japanese Language Department, JFBKK

Noppawan Boonsomさん:バンコク日本文化センター 日本語事業グループの指導員

Could you please tell us about this course?


N: This is the Japanese language training course for teachers who want to teach Japanese in their schools (中等学校現職教員日本語教師新規養成講座(新規研修). This project was initiated because of the lack of trained Japanese-language teachers. In Thailand, many people who can speak Japanese tend to work in factories because they can get higher wages than teachers get. For our project, we invited full-time teachers from schools in Thailand to take this course, which lasts for ten months. After completing the course they have to go back and teach at their school for at least three years. Our course is divided into 6 semesters of 6-7 weeks each. In the last semester, they learn about language teaching methods. Although they are already teachers - some of them are mathematic teachers or chemistry teachers - they are not familiar with language teaching. They can practice teaching in groups and individually as well.


Most of these teachers are English-language teachers, so they are already familiar with language teaching, but we also have a computer teacher, a Thai-language teacher, and chemistry and physics teachers. We used the Akiko book (http://www.jfbkk.or.th/2011_007_jp.php) for instruction. The students will finish this book within five semesters and in the last semester there is a grammar review, public speaking and teaching methodology.

先生たちの多くは英語教師なので、言語を教えるということには慣れています。けれど、中にはコンピュータの先生やタイ語の先生や科学、物理の先生もいます。私たちは「Akiko Book」を指導に使っています(http://www.jfbkk.or.th/2011_007_jp.php)。 受講生は5学期内にこのBookを終え、先学期では文法の復習、スピーチ練習、指導法などを学びました。


Apart from Japanese language learning, we also have volunteers who are Japanese housewives living in Bangkok. They kindly come to help every week for two hours each. Our student teachers can practice speaking Japanese with them and learn about Japanese culture at the same time. Normally, we start with an activity which doesn’t require much speaking, such as origami and we also have furoshiki and yukata dressing workshops. They don’t learn only about Japanese culture, there is also cultural exchange. Thai teachers also teach the Japanese volunteers about Thai culture. For example, if one week we learn about Bon Odori (Japanese dance), the following week Thai teachers will teach the volunteers about Thai classical dance. Other activities are flower garland making and fruit carving. We also have Japanese and Thai cooking activities. The last activity is a fun half-day excursion in which Thai teachers take our Japanese volunteers to go sight-seeing in Bangkok but they must give all their explanations in Japanese.


We have around 13-14 Thai teachers on each course and there are no course fees for tuition or teaching materials. This project has been developed with the cooperation of the Ministry of Education of Thailand and JF.


What is your impression of this course?


N: I’ve seen them from their first day when most can’t speak much Japanese, so I’m very happy to see them learn more and more each day. I feel glad that I can teach someone who will go back and teach more students out there in the world. So I have to be careful about what and how I teach. If I’m not sure about anything, I usually check with my Japanese colleagues first.


What do you like in Japanese culture and why did you choose to study Japanese in the first place?


N: When I studied at university, I was not sure which language I wanted to study, so I asked my teacher, and she suggested that I should choose a language that not many Thai spoke. Then I had the opportunity to talk to a Japanese teacher and she was really kind, so I decided to study Japanese.

I liked Japanese folktales, so I studied comparative folktales at Osaka University for Foreign Studies from 1980-1984 for my Master’s degree.



What’s your favorite Japanese food?


N: I like Okonomiyaki.


I also talked to three teachers who participated in this course; they are from Nongkhai, Nonthaburi and Nakhon Ratchasima provinces, and all of them were former English teachers.


(P) Pradabpon Janpadchaさん、Prathatbangphaunwittaya School、Nakhon Ratchasima県

(J) Jittagarn Wangcomeさん、 Bodindecha (Sing Singhaseni) Nonthaburi School、 Nonthaburi県

(B) Boonla-or Atthawongさん、 Pakthongchai Prachaniramit School、 Nakhon Ratchasima県

Why did you decide to participate in this course/why did you want to study Japanese?


P: My school used to offer a Japanese course as a free elective course, but later the Japanese teacher moved to another school, so there’s no one to teach Japanese. That’s why I decided to come to study here, now they are waiting for me to go back and teach Japanese to our students.



(P) Pradabpon Janpadcha

J: At first I liked Japanese manga, both in comic books and on TV, especially the Conan (Detective Conan) series. I guess I’m addicted to it and the series is now on its 66th or 67th book. Moreover, I like technology and I did my Master’s degree in this field. I would like to further my studies in this field in Japan as I believe that Japan is one of the leaders in technology and invention.

However, I plan to go back and start teaching secondary students first. If we have good teaching plan, then the students will benefit more from learning Japanese.



B: When I was in university, I had a chance to study Japanese for one semester. I was very impressed by my Japanese teacher at that time, as she was very kind. Although I didn’t have any basic knowledge of Japanese, her teaching style made me want to study more. So I decided that if I got the chance, I would further my Japanese language studies.

My school doesn’t have any Japanese language course yet, so I’ll try to set one up. If we just open a free elective course or a Japanese club, our students will learn only about culture, but I’d like them to learn grammar and how to speak Japanese as well. Now in Nakhon Ratchasima province, there’re a lot of Japanese factories, particularly in Suranaree Industrial Park and a lot of Japanese people live in Nakhon Ratchasima as well. So I think the Japanese language could be important in the future.


私の学校では日本語クラスがまだないのですが、私が立ち上げたいと思います!選択クラスや日本語クラブを開設するだけなら、生徒たちは日本文化を知ることしかできません。けれど、私は生徒たちに文法や日本語の話し方も勉強してほしいんです。Nakhon Ratchasima県、特にSuranaree Industrial Parkでは、現在たくさんの日本の工場があり、



(B) Boonla-or Atthawong

What is your impression of this course at JFBKK?


P: Our Japanese teachers have good teaching methods. Even if we don’t have any basic knowledge of the Japanese language but they can teach us from letter to word, from word to sentence. And now I can communicate at a basic level. I’m not so good in grammar, but I can understand some conversation.


B: I’m impressed by all teachers and coordinators. They teach us Hiragana and Katakana [scripts] until we can write a sentence. Their teaching technique motivates us to study more and more. Although we know that there’s a lot more for us to learn, but we are encouraged to continue.


J: I’m impressed by our teachers, for their determination, and for their teaching methodology. They always have well-planned classes. They also support us in many ways. If there’s anything that we don’t understand or something we would like to learn more about, they are willing to help us. Our coordinators at JF warmly welcomed from the first day we arrived.



(J) Jittagarn Wangcome

What’s your opinion of Japanese culture?


P: I like their discipline. However, their way of communicating is quite different from that of Thai people. When they say no, they often say it indirectly, or we have to listen to the end of the sentence to learn if it’s yes or no. I also like o-sake. I have searched for information about each type of sake, its origin, how to make it and so on. I think I’ll do presentation to my class on sake. I like Thai whisky, too, so I’d like to know what differences there are between Thai and Japanese whisky.


J: We learned a lot about Japanese culture from the Japanese volunteers. What we don’t know, they will try to teach us about, and they are also the ones assist with our understanding of Japanese language and culture. I like a lot of the cultural activities such as origami. I think Japan has good and well-planned education system that has helped to develop their people. I wish Thailand had a good system like this.


B: My overall impression of Japanese people is that they have determination and drive themselves hard but they are tender and considerate to other people. I don’t wonder why this country is so developed and has created many things. I have learned that they won’t give in when they face trouble - I really admire this.


Last question, what is your favorite Japanese food?


P: The first Japanese food that I tried is sushi. When I come here, my friends took me to eat udon noodles, which I like, too.


J: I like o-bento, ramen, everything.


B: I like udon noodles.



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