Saturday, August 10, 2013
BREAKING CAMP: Running School Camps in Japan is Weird
Last week, after twelve years in this country, I did something for the first time that's apparently quite the lure for English teachers in Japan, mostly because of the bonus-extra cash — going on a school camp during summer vacation.
In this case it was a three-day affair, attempting to teach a bunch of junior high school girls I'd never before met, without any idea of their English language level and no access to a PC, whiteboards, textbooks or a photocopier.
The lessons were conducted on the tatami-matted floors of their shared rooms at an inn near Yamanaka Lake, and my particular group of nine included the rowdiest and more stubborn members of the entire camp. I had one kid constantly questioning everything we did—sadly in Japanese rather than the language we were supposed to be practicing—along with a grumpy scowler, a girl who thought she was a bird, rivalries, and mood swings galore.
There were tears almost as often as there was laughter.
To top things off, one of the Canadian teachers had a meltdown, locked herself in her room, and refused to teach—meaning the other four instructors inherited that class as well.
Being stuck teaching 13-year-olds from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm every day had me climbing the walls—and fired up to do something creative. Like drink a lot of beer from the convenience store located a kilometre away down a road in the middle of a tiny village with no streetlights.
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