Teaching in Tokyo


Lee explaining a game to her KIST students.

TEACHING is a highly skilled occupation as educators are required to do many things that fall outside the realm of teaching.

It’s also a profession where academic content, and classroom management, cannot simply be learned in a vacuum.

These must be observed in real-world settings, as aspiring teacher Amanda Lee Shi Ying found out.

The final year student who’s pursuing her Bachelor of Education degree in Primary Education at the School of Education, Taylor’s University, recently completed her six-month internship module at K. International School Tokyo (KIST), Japan, as an assistant language teacher for Grade Three, and Kindergarten Two students.

Most of her time there was spent assisting the homeroom teacher, guiding students on writing, and helping out with the group work. She was also juggling between preparing and conducting classes, as well as writing her research paper to complete her studies.

“English is not widely spoken in Japan, and most students take a long time to open up due to the lack of confidence in their proficiency.

“But as the children became used to my presence in the classroom, they were more encouraged to speak. “This helped build our relationship, and I really got to know them individually,” said Lee.

One of her achievements there was implementing a point system in the classroom based on the popular game, Pokémon Go.

“Introducing this method to the students helped me identify their strengths and areas we needed to concentrate on for their academic progress. Once they overcame their challenges, they were not shy to demonstrate their appreciation and affection, which was truly rewarding,” recalled Lee.

Taylor’s University and KIST have inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for more such collaborations.

“We’ve got something good going on between the two institutions and would like to sustain it,” said KIST school head Jeffrey Jones.

The school opened an internship position for the first time in 2016 as part of a service to the community, giving a chance to Malaysian students to do their internship overseas.

“When Amanda came on board, she was prepared to handle primary school students. There is a level of confidence one needs to enter a classroom, and begin working with the teacher and 25 kids. The education programme at Taylor’s University obviously prepares their students for this,” he said.

It’s humbling to see them transformed by the experience of being in real classroom settings before graduation, said Taylor’s University School of Education head Dr Logendra Ponniah.

“It gives us confidence that our future teachers will make positive changes to the lives of children,” he said, adding that Taylor’s University is currently the country’s only private university to offer a primary education degree.


   

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