Weellllllll. On July 16th 2-3pm I am scheduled to be teaching a free Japanese beginner class at my local library. I'm still trying to figure out my lesson plan because it's quite a lot of work to figure out how to get a group of people to be able to understand and use Japanese to some extent in an hour. One thing I was thinking about doing was just taking them through the Hirigana using nukemarine's/heisig's mnemonics and then teaching them how to introduce themselves 'hajimemashite. watashi wa -- desu. yoroshiku onegaishimasu'. So I've been basically just writing out exactly what I'm planning on saying and then practicing in front of my sister (who has a very short attention span if I can't keep her interested) and I know if she starts to walk away then I was too boring.
So I decided I mine as well post on here and let everyone know.
Oh and a couple of questions to you.
Have you ever taught a Japanese class or gave a lecture or anything like this?
How did it go if so?
Any tips tricks or advice you'd like to bestow to me before I go and do this thing?
How much would you expect to learn by attending a 1 hour class on Japanese and how can I ensure I would at least meet those expectations?
Any thoughts, comments or cynical remarks are also appreciated.
Just mulling things over in my mind and such. Thanks for reading, Thanks double if you post a reply. Thanks triple if you say something useful. Thanks quadruple if you pray for me, I'll need it.
my advice would be to skip kana altogether. It takes time to even explain it, in one hour you will barely even finish the vowel line and no one will learn anything. You can give them a basic(saaay, 5 minutes) explanation on how the writing system works but any more than that will get boring (maybe show them the kanjis for 1,2,3, mouth, etc. Just to show how easy some kanjis are, but don't go into detail). I'd try just talking about the language in general, teaching them how to introduce themselves and make AwaBda sentences. Simple, very basic, and the fact that they learned a bit will make them feel good.
If you're only going to have one hour with them, I agree with Zgarbas, drop kana.
You can ask them if they know any Japanese words already, and give them a little hint if they need it. Most of them will know words like sushi, shogun, geisha, ninja, someone will probably know arigatou, you can use car brands like Suzuki, Mitsubishi and so on and so on - this usually puts my students at ease at the beginning of the first class and helps them talk if they're shy
You shouldn't use kana, but you should talk about them or they'll think japanese is all kanji and they'll be discouraged.
I'd tell them about kanji as something imported from China and about kanji as pictures of something, using example like 1,2,3 and mouth... and then yasumi, or something easy to understand and funny.
I like sawagi: bugs on the horse again! --> sawagashiku naru naa XD
But sushi is a good example too, if you explain 魚 fish and 旨い good and then write down 鮨 sushi, I think they'll like it.
Then I'd say it also exists hiragana, so it isn't a "learn millions of kanji or die" thing.
Self-introductions can be good, but I'd mix in/prefer some aizuchi, interjections, sounds or gestures that can get them to get a feeling of being able to interact with people (even if just a little) and to think japanese is funny to learn. For this, even something like this could be useful in its own way.
Last edited by kazeatari (2012 June 28, 12:15 pm)
From my experiences as a Japanese tutor, I've learned that simplicity and fun are key. Don't try to plan too much, and whenever you can make activities that will engage your audience. It's tricky for the first lesson because there's so much that you can introduce, but I think it's important to think about the experience for the new learners in your class--if this were your first day learning Japanese, what would you want to know? What kind of songs or clips from shows/movies would you want to see? What about the Japanese culture would you have liked to know before beginning to learn the language?
Last edited by tnall (2012 June 28, 12:39 pm)
I once did a 1 hour intro to Japanese at an anime convention.
I didn't really focus on teaching any actual Japanese though, so much as just giving an overview and helping to guide them in the right direction if they would choose to start learning. I covered kana and kanji, and I did explain how the heisig method works and how it had helped me. (when you first tell people they have to learn 2000 characters, that puts them off immediately, but then if you can make it sound not so bad, like "i learned how to write 2000 kanji from memory in 3 months", that draws them back ;p )
For katakana, I showed some screens of menus and stuff from video games, to show how katakana words are almost like english, I think people found that particularly cool, as it was something that they can learn and use with little effort.
I also explained about Anki and how it helps you remember stuff over the long term.
I also explained various ways to learn, such as taking classes, online sites, going to Japan (i discussed some options for getting there, like taking a trip, studying abroad, etc), and things like that.
I also prepared a handout with lists of books and websites, so that when people left they would have a full guide showing them what to do next.
People also had quite a few questions, and I hadn't built any Q/A time into my presentation, so that is something to consider (though at my presentation, there were probably 300 people, so that's a lot of potential for questions... a smaller group would probably have considerably fewer questions)
Last edited by Zarxrax (2012 June 28, 1:14 pm)
I've been teaching Japanese part-time at a school in the same city as my university for some time. One of the first things I learned was how long an hour and fourty five minutes really is. It is probably a good idea to prepare more material than you really think you may end up needing. You're expected to make good use of all of the time given to you when you're a hired teacher but I guess it's ok to end your lession a bit earlier if you work for free and if your students do not pay for the lessons.
The students in my class were pretty young and a bit shy. Many of them didn't mind asking lots of questions before or after the class but as soon as everything had started they would be silent most of the time. The solution I found to this was to never announce the start of each lession. Instead, I would begin by asking the students about things such as what they liked about Japanese and if they could remember anything interesting they had learned during the lessons or encountered outside of class. I found that it was actually pretty easy to maintain an open and free atmosphere as long as the students didn't realize that the lesson had really started. By slowly shifting focus to the topics of the lessons at hand I found myself standing in front of an eager class freed from the formal school setting that all too often turns a class of dedicated students silent and unreceptive.
Good luck! Be sure to post an update when you've held your first class
So I taught the class yesterday. I only had 3 people show up so it was a bit more personal than I thought it would be. we ended up covering 15 hirigana letters and all 3 of them were able to remember 100% of the letters at the end of the class so that was good I thought. We had a ton of fun learning them too. A lot more questions were asked than I expected which is why we weren't able to cover all 47ish hirigana.
after that we learned basic introductions and yes and no and how to ask if someone is japanese or american. "私はnameです""私はnationじんです"あなたはnationじんですか”
”はい" ”いいえ” I only spent about 8 minutes during this time but I had the students say these things to each other and I think they remember most of them. they were able to reproduce them but had a hard time understanding me when I said the same things at high speed.
one of the students said she couldn't wait for next week and that this would be the only good part about mondays for her. I had to explain to her that this was a one time deal I had set up with the library but maybe we could do lessons in the future if a good opportunity presented itself.
one of the other students told me that my methods were crazy but that they worked.
(I used nukemarines videos as a base for the teaching method of the hirigana but I sped up the process and made some of the stories a little bit easier/better for my purposes)
る - the seven dwarves are now ninjas using boomerangs to kidnap Roo
in the case of stories involving the cape primitive I've removed little red riding hood from the picture because it takes longer to explain and doesn't make much sense
(if you've seen winnie the pooh you know who Roo is)
overall I thought it was a smashing success
thanks for your tips and advice.
Last edited by semperanimus (2012 July 17, 11:03 am)
Glad to hear it went well!
If it interests you, perhaps you could develop a series of lectures on 'How to Learn Japanese on Your Own' or something. If there are Japanese exchange students in your area, maybe you could offer similar information to them and create some kind of language exchange opportunities/events.
Who knows, maybe you've discovered that you have a talent for teaching. In any event, I think it's great that you took the initiative to make it happen.
I've been teaching Japanese part-time at a school in the same city as my university for some time.
Which city is this and are people outside the school welcome to join?
Last edited by Shomp (2012 July 18, 3:54 am)