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VonPeterhof’s log - 旅立ち’14, Yürükler’15+

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vonPeterhof
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715 posts - 1527 votes 
Speaks: Russian*, EnglishC2, Japanese, German
Studies: Kazakh, Korean, Norwegian, Turkish

 
 Message 65 of 158
27 May 2014 at 10:39pm | IP Logged 
Now it's been more than two weeks since my last update. Funny, when I was first considering starting a log my biggest concern was that it would turn into an excuse to procrastinate from my studies. Now it seems like it's become just another chore. Well, it's not like updating my log is the only thing I didn't manage to do the other week - I was also behind on most of my reading and nearly all of my JLPT preparations. The situation at work isn't quite as hectic as before, but it's still pretty busy, and having to make some changes to my commuting arrangements also messed up my studying plans a bit. Last week I made up on most of the stuff I had missed, but I'm still a bit behind on the JLPT preparations. I guess I'll be spending my Greek vacation buried in study materials.

I'm guessing I won't be writing an update this coming weekend either, because I need to prepare my mock class next Wednesday. Yesterday we had the first four students giving mock classes, and they all put so much effort into planning the lesson structure and designing study materials that the bar has now been set pretty damn high. The flow of their speech also made me very self-conscious of my own stilted spoken Japanese. My upcoming mock class will be literally the longest single interval of time I've ever had to speak Japanese for, so I'm already getting stage fright just from thinking about it. I'm certainly going to do my best not to screw up too hard.

Speaking of the lectures, the library where they take place always has a stand where old editions of foreign language-related books are given away for free. Most of them are linguistics papers and study materials for various languages, with an occasional novel in a European/former Soviet language or two. This time around when I glanced at the stand my eye was caught by a pocket-sized paperback edition of Yasunari Kawabata's 山の音. Needless to say I immediately grabbed it (I also couldn't resist taking a small Fering-Russian dictionary). So I guess now I got my hands on my first physical novel in Japanese! What's more, when I opened the book it turned out to be written in pre-reform orthography, even though the novel's serialization began in 1949 and the edition of the book I have was published in 1958. I had heard that when the reform was launched in 1946 many publishers resisted the limitations on kanji use which led to their eventual loosening, but apparently some authors and publishers continued writing in completely unreformed kana and kanji long after the war. Reading it is going to be a bit challenging, but it seems like the kind of challenge I actually enjoy.
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vonPeterhof
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Speaks: Russian*, EnglishC2, Japanese, German
Studies: Kazakh, Korean, Norwegian, Turkish

 
 Message 66 of 158
01 June 2014 at 12:06am | IP Logged 
So instead of writing the lesson plan, practising my teaching or making learning props I have spent most of today watching anime, both current and old, as well as going out for a big meal at my favourite Japanese restaurant (I couldn't afford not to go - yesterday was payday, and I had a coupon that was about to expire on Sunday...). I feel like I'm a university student again! Might as well write a brief update while we're at it :D

I managed to complete my reading goals for the week by now (for Japanese; not so much for Greek). The first chapter of 山の音 was really enjoyable, mainly because it offered a somewhat humorous look at some quirks of the Japanese language - politeness levels, homophones and near-homophones, as well as the notorious pitch accent. I'm also almost done with the JLPT grammar book - all that's left is the last revision test. I'm really behind on the vocabulary book though - at this pace I might end up having to cram nearly a quarter of the book's material within the last two weeks of preparation.

Okay, it's not like I didn't do anything for the mock class - at least I read through the material I need to cover in Minna no Nihongo! The overall structure of the lesson seems straightforward: quickly revise the basic numerals, introduce the -つ numerals, demonstrate the counter 枚 using pictures or props (possibly also introduce 台, if there's enough time), practice them by asking questions, then end by having the students do a short "at the store" dialogue in pairs. I guess tomorrow I'll have to plan the specifics.
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kraemder
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 Message 67 of 158
01 June 2014 at 7:31am | IP Logged 
Good luck on the Japanese presentation. If seems really backward being a
japanese teacher and explaining Japanese etc. and being the authority.
But you seem to be on a pretty high level so I'm sure it'll be good. I
hope your accent is better than mine (●´□`)♡
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vonPeterhof
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715 posts - 1527 votes 
Speaks: Russian*, EnglishC2, Japanese, German
Studies: Kazakh, Korean, Norwegian, Turkish

 
 Message 68 of 158
04 June 2014 at 8:53pm | IP Logged 
A bit late, but thanks, kraemder! And yeah, it does feel a bit weird, especially when most of the others in the class are either native speakers or Russians who had been studying to become teachers of Japanese (including a few who have already taught some actual classes). Although it's somewhat offset by the fact that the course is on teaching beginner-level Japanese, so we are expected to keep our language in the simpler range. In fact, it's quite a challenge, trying to maintain that simple level when explaining a grammar point or the usage of a word.

I just got back from the mock class. Since I'm really tired right now (and since there's an unexpectedly large number of Anki reviews waiting for me...) I'm gonna leave the detailed write-up of the experience till later, but for now suffice it to say that I did... sorta okay for someone with no teaching experience whatsoever. The consensus in the classroom appeared to be that I had a surprisingly good idea, but the execution of said idea was rather sloppy.
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vonPeterhof
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Speaks: Russian*, EnglishC2, Japanese, German
Studies: Kazakh, Korean, Norwegian, Turkish

 
 Message 69 of 158
08 June 2014 at 11:03pm | IP Logged 
In the "best" traditions of university students, I ended up doing the majority of the work for the mock class the night before (and I only finished making the props fifteen minutes before the class). I did have the structure of the introductory part of the class planned on Monday (revise basic numbers 1-10 while writing them out on the whiteboard, then introduce the つ numbers by showing pictures and writing furigana over the numbers), but I couldn't think of a good classroom activity to follow it. At first I was planning on making up dialogues for pair work, in a store or something, but I couldn't think of anything sufficiently interesting to get the students involved. Then, late on Tuesday night it struck me - if the structure that I'm supposed to teach is for asking for certain quantities of something, then why not just have everyone ask everyone for certain quantities of something? This "brilliant" thought led me to plan a game:

1) I make lots of little cards with each one having one of a limited number of items drawn on it;
2) I randomly distribute the cards to students, so that everyone gets the same number of cards;
3) I set the students of how many items they need to get (e.g. students in the first row need to get 10 apples, second row - 10 bags, etc.) by asking them from other students;
4) Students go around asking each other for the needed items, using the following pattern: ____は、ありますか。/ はい、あります。/ ___は、いくつありますか。/ __は、Xつあります。/ __をXつください/ はい、どうぞ。

According to what we learned about interactive activities this would have been perfect: all the students are involved, there is a bit of a competitive element, and the completion of the activity leads to a sense of achievement. As I said before, everyone seemed to agree that it was a great idea. The realization though...

I guess my biggest problem was the fact that I did everything in the last moment. That left me very little time for planning and practically none for practice. Since I only made the actual cards in the last moment I couldn't didn't manage to arrange them in decks to be handed out to each student. Heck, when I entered the classroom I didn't even know how many cards I'd have to hand out, since I wasn't sure how many students would be present. My mock class was second, so I frantically did all those calculations and redistributions while the first person was talking, and by the time I was supposed to start two latecomers whom I hadn't taken into account had appeared in the classroom. Since there was no time to rearrange the cards I had to exclude them from the game. Due to this I got pretty nervous and forgot to write the furigana on the whiteboard during the introductory part. When it came to the actual game I messed up the card distribution and accidentally excluded another person from the game. Then I found it really difficult to explain the rules of the game. Thankfully, the game itself seemed to go pretty smoothly, at least for the people whom I managed not to exclude.

When the game was over I realized that I had more than five minutes leftover. The teacher told us to always have an activity up your sleeve precisely for these cases. I did have one, but it was probably not the best idea - introducing some new material. You see, the chapter of みんなの日本語 that my topic was taken from also introduces the 枚 and 台 counters in addition to つ (yeah, there's also 人, but you can't really say __をX人ださい). I thought of introducing at least 枚 as well, but then I thought that introducing the つ and the dialogue needed for the game would take too much time, so I decided to put the introduction of 枚 into overtime, thinking that there won't be any time left over anyway. Needless to say, when I actually ended up having to do it my explanation of it was pretty sloppy. I guess I learned that planning and practice are not to be neglected.
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kraemder
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 Message 70 of 158
09 June 2014 at 12:21am | IP Logged 
You managed to exclude students from the game? What? How? It sounds entertaining lol. Your idea sounds good in practice too. I think that just like anything, people benefit a lot from experience. An experienced teacher will just reuse material over and over so there's no careless mistakes like excluding people.. (I'm a bit baffled at this).

I remember teaching English to a bunch of Germans for my CELTA certificate and I was a nervous wreck and it was my native language. Just like you I was being graded on my presentation and that really doesn't help things.

I'm sure there's lots of stuff you could do to kill time if you have 5 minutes or something. Teachers at JOI tend to just do kanji practice, which I enjoy. My teacher at the community college had a fun game we did in my class where you have to think of a word that uses the last letter of the word that the last person said. There's a time limit. The teacher had us choose the time limit and I think we did 10 seconds or something. We didn't keep score or anything. If the word you said ended with a ん then you failed (how many words start with ん after all). So if the guy before me said アパート for example, then I had to say a word that started with と or ト. (yes katakana was fine in our version of the game and you could even reuse previous words if you changed the conjugation). In our version, you could reuse previous words without even changing the conjugation if it were a new round. So if someone got a wrong response then it reset. Considering a lot of the students were pretty weak in vocab our rules were pretty generous but you could change them to make it harder. I got one wrong response.. 意見 .. it just came out and I didn't even think that it ended with a ん.
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dampingwire
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 Message 71 of 158
09 June 2014 at 7:21pm | IP Logged 
kraemder wrote:
My teacher at the community college had a fun game we did in my class
where you have to think of a word that uses the last letter of the word that the last
person said.


That sounds like しりとり.

I'd like to try it sometime, but in a class of one I'm not sure it would be that much
fun. Anyone know of an online version?
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vonPeterhof
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Speaks: Russian*, EnglishC2, Japanese, German
Studies: Kazakh, Korean, Norwegian, Turkish

 
 Message 72 of 158
20 June 2014 at 11:52pm | IP Logged 
Phew, looks like I've survived until my two weeks off! In less than an hour I'll be heading for the airport to catch a plane to Germany, spend a day with my relatives there, and then depart for Greece on Sunday morning. Since I'll be either too busy or too exhausted to update during the weekend I'll do it now.

Looks like I am gonna be cramming a lot of N1 vocab studying into these upcoming two weeks after all - there's two and a half modules left to cover. Plus the module I'm on right now is probably the most annoying of them all - オノマトペ. All those ぐたぐたs, てくてくs and ちらほらs that have tripped me up harder than any kanji compounds in previous tests. Even if the phonetic symbolism for a certain word from this category does make some sort of sense to me, there's always a few that sound pretty close to it and cause confusion when I encounter them in multiple-choice questions. I guess there's no other way than hard memorization for most of them.

Last weekend I was on a roadtrip from Saint Petersburg to Moscow. When I ran out of things to do and got bored of reading the books I've been reading for the past few weeks I (re)started reading ゼロの使い魔, that light novel that I tried to read more than a year ago. Reading a page or two a day, I hadn't even got through the first chapter by the time I stopped reading it due to becoming too busy and unmotivated. This time, after countless newspaper columns and several chapters of 風立ちぬ and 山の音, completing the first chapter was like a leisurely stroll in the park. That reminder of my progress was really motivating - makes me think that I might be able to read "grown-up" stuff just as easily at some point... eventually... a long, long time from now...


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