Shoe on the other foot

I’m no longer absolutely strapped for time so I’m back in ‘I am actively learning Japanese’ mode. There’s a standardised test in December that would be kind of useful to have for jobhunting and stuff. It would also be nice to know I’m being sort of clear.

I’m also taking all of my own advice. I am using monolingual dictionaries (because it’s appropriate to my level), using corpora, reading books again, and listening to radio programmes. I am also taking notes and looking at them.

No lessons. At least not yet. I don’t want to be *that* picky student but I wonder if I would be. I might call up my old Japanese teacher for a crash course before the school term starts again. I just hope that I don’t end up being annoying.

Stuff I am Glad I Do as a Freelance Teacher

Those of you who read regularly know just how much of a horrendous curmudgeon I am, and this past couple of weeks I’ve been questioning my career choices, much like Rob Gordon in Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, when he talks about shutting down his record shop to go and work in a Virgin Megastore. 
I have, however, come out the other side of this gnashing of teeth and realised that my relief that life is not all bad was helped by the following things:

Keeping a diary

Not a journal, although I do jot things or add them to a private Google document. No, I’m talking about keeping a detailed schedule and updating it weekly. If I knew I could gather the info as quickly online as I can with paper, I’d use an internet-based calendar but paper is just plain quicker. 

Finding how many classes I teach for myself is useful for paperwork for my son’s daycare. It’s also a lot quicker for scheduling new clients. 

Speaking Halfway OK Japanese

I had to phone the bank this week and if I hadn’t learned the Japanese I have, getting the information I needed woukd have meant waiting until my wife’s day off or hiring an interpreter or begging the bank to find someone who speaks English.

Spread the risk

I do not work for just one agency, or just one client. This means of one company goes belly up, or if a new client is bloody unreliable, I don’t lose out too much.

This was an issue when I was a mere part-time dabbler, living paycheck to paycheck. I know now that I would never again work for a fly-by-night company who photocopy all their materials. I also know that if I get paid late, somebody doesn’t care about me so what else don’t they care about? 

Don’t get me wrong, I’d still love a permanent full-time job with a good salary, it’s just that those are rare as hen’s teeth in EFL and I actually do enjoy my job. It’s just the times people treat you as an idiot that get me cross. 

Materials: Where Is That?

Updated 22 April 2017

Get your learners to match countries to their languages and major cities and their nationality/demonym.

Here is a set of small cards to be cut up (and laminate for longevity?) and spread around the class. Learners work together to match the countries to the languages and cities. I put in some unusual countries that are rarely looked at in textbooks, so it will challenge some learners.

You’d probably want to set it up so that unnecessary L1 is reduced. Elicit questions like “What nationality are people from…?” in a pre-task, or do some hot Focus on Form if you find there is a ton of L1 being used. Pronunciation would be useful to do some form focus with, particularly stressed syllables and possible epenthesis (adding sounds to the pronunciation of a word).

It is Creative Commons licensed so if you want to change the countries/cities/languages, go ahead. Get the PDF here or the editable word document here.