Friday, September 08, 2006

Dinner video and first impressions of Nova Classes

Ian sure gets excited about food...
***Ok, I admit, that one was MY fault! I uploaded the wrong file. Great...make fun of me for that, then watch the video and make fun of me some more. Should work fine now. Sorry about the initial difficulties!***(im)

You may notice that the recipe reads "Chicken", but I make it with pork. That's because some of the hypochondriacs I serve think they're going to get the avian flu. The recipe also calls for peas, but I made it with asparagus to suit some of the pickier eaters I serve.
What a silly film. I can't believe they allow this stuff on the internet.

Many have inquired about some sort of teaching that we're supposed to be doing over here as well. Nova is quite careful to always refer to us-types as "instructors," and the work we do is a much over-simplified, and dumbed down, teacher role. Every lesson is planned out for us step by step (practically down to the wording they want us to use), and our primary task is to pull the Nova-approved stages of the lesson off within the 40 minute lesson limit.

After a 3 days of training Tara and I have taught 7 and a half of these 40 minute lessons. They have been getting progressively better. I'm working hard at keeping my instructions simple and minimalistic. The more succinctly I can explain the lesson, the better it goes. Being direct and to the point.... good skill in any job. And those who have worked with me (especially Caprice who had to read some of my notes to head office) can understand why I might need to work on simplifying.

Point form summary. First impressions:
- it's alllllll laid out for us ahead of time, so there's virtually no prep time (once you have the hang of the lesson order down.
- the students are paying to be there, and they are mostly quite eager to learn, so we don't normally encounter the kind of difficult kids that real teachers have to work around in their lessons
- THE STUDENTS! As I'm getting more comfortable with lessons, I'm more relaxed, and it's becoming easier to just talk to the students. You get a lot of really interesting people, and they're so polite and respectful, they are great to work with.
- the start of the lesson is just a stage act. You have to catch their attention and work them in right off the start, or the whole lesson can crash and burn. If you get off to a good start, you can practically ride it to the finish (with the help of Nova's colourful picture book English lesson plan).

Anecdote: (things still get off track at times) A grammar question that began with a differentiation between "dead" and "died" somehow sidetracked ten minutes of my lesson, ending at a point where...well, I'm not certain... but I think the man was trying to ask me "Well, I want to know...for example... who killed JFK?"
Sorry, man...I'm not qualified to answer those kinda questions. That stuff isn't in the teacher's manual.

- anyone who has been with Nova for awhile knows the prepackaged lessons by heart (honestly, they can name off hundreds of lessons by name), and say that it gets painfully boring
- 3 days of training and now we start full time this Saturday. I really don't feel qualified enough given what students pay for these lessons. Then again, I suppose some university teachers never really did much for me, and those classes cost a good deal more.
- the students pay about 30-40 bucks for these 40 minute lessons.... I've talked to myself for 40 minutes before, and I can tell ya it ain't worth that much.
- you get exactly 10 or 15 minutes between classes (depends on the time of day) to evaluate the previous group (where "evaluation" means checking off a series of boxes which are later translated into Japanese and given back to the students so they know what to work on), and then look over the next 4 students' files, decide on which lesson to teach them, look it over, and get into class. This will happen either 5 or 8 times a day for us - we have 2 shorter days and 3 longer days each week.

As for the living situation, our apartment seems to be one of the coolest places in town for English teachers to be.
Every person we meet either gives us helpful advice, takes us somewhere useful we didn't know about, invites us out for drinks, invites us over for drinks, invites us to a party, or offers to help if we need anything. Actually I think EVERYONE has offered to help if we need anything. I don't think I've ever in my life had so many people I don't know offer to help me out with so much. That much is very encouraging, and on that note I must leave you all for now.
We begin at our regular positions tomorrow morning. Wish us luck!

- Ian


luke said...

hey guys, sounds kind of daunting haha..i'm sure you'll both do fine, it's just a learning curve like everything else in life. and besides, you both english good. so is it just four students per class? how many classes do you usually have each day?

Ian's Mom said...

We can't view the video again but really enjoyed the commentary. Ian and Tara you have to make sure you have a hard copy- this should be published! Nicely written.

Mom Debbie said...

Can't view the video either. Sounds like you are doing a fine job. As I knew you would!! I agree with Janet, this stuff is good enough to be published, you all make my day!! Miss you both, Lots, Love Mom and or Debbie xoxo

Jaime! said...

Greetings from Jacksonville!
So, i was reading your blog and it reminded me of a class i'm taking right now, TESOL (teaching english to speakers of other languages) so I thought that i would throw out some hopefully useful advice. Singing songs is a great way to get students to learn english for whatever lesson you are doing. Doesn't matter how old, they all love it. Also, when using words, use hand gestures to symbolize them. That's all i've got so far, I've only had two classes, but GOOD LUCK! glad to hear everything is going well!

MomDad(Ian) said...

"Yep, that was a good video", says Dad.
"I liked the part about the Mom's Happy Choice juice", says Mom.

Derrick M said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Derrick M said...

You guys are on your way to having an Emmy award winning cooking show...


Mom Debbie said...

Looks yummy!!!!!Could I come for dinner???

Meaghan said...

hahaha that video was very amusing. You're crazy Ian.. even Tara was like "uhh.. what are you doing?" hahaha I love it. We all sat in Luke's living room and watched, and everyone was cracking up.
As for the teaching, I hope your first real day went smoothly.. you guys will catch on real quick either way :)
lovvvve you!

Anonymous said...

hi i like your bikes!


Arlene said...

Hey Ian... I'm sure you figured out that 'died' is the past tense (or past participle) of the 'verb' to die, and dead is an adjective (which of course, modifies a noun) in "He dead last night and now he looks died!" Now, I'm going to try to watch the video. Oh yeah, I third the comments about publishing what you've written!

your friends in Japan said...

Luke - thank you compliment for my English.
4 students maximum in any class, and we have 5 lessons on a short day, 8 on a long day.

Mom - thanks, but I think publishers look for a wider audience than the mothers of the writers.

Debbie - please see above.

Jaime - nice to hear from you! Thanks for the tip. The Nova kids lessons are hugely song based. We start kids training today.
Also, I've definitely been using a lot of hand signals and gesturing to reinforce the language. Thanks for the tips.

mom & dad - glad you liked the video! I want to try taking some more scenic shots on the weekend.

Derrick - Tara and I were actually watching this crazy cooking show the other night where the chefs had to make food that looked real out of deserts and icing sugar. Kind of like marzipan. They were extremely talented, and made quite intricate designs and replicas.

Debbie - just let us know the date!

Meaghan - I know what you mean...Tara has this look in the video like "Why did I come here with YOU?"

Cameron - thanks! I like them too. It's a lot of fun to ride around town on them.

Arlene - sounds like you must have taught English before, or something! That's exactly the difficulty he was having. Ok, so "I dead him?"
"No, you killed him."
"Ok, so JFK died, and I want to know....who dead him?"

It was pretty cute!

- Ian

Tara's Mom said...

Ian,I still think you are quite the talented writer!!