Well, it’s almost April, which means I will soon find out whether or not I am going to Japan this summer with the JET program.
There’s a scene at the opening of the film Joe vs. the Volcano in which Joe’s grumpy manager, arguing with an un-seen associate on the phone, keeps repeating the phrase, “I KNOW HE CAN GET THE JOB, HARRY, BUT CAN HE DO THE JOB?” (Skip to 4:30 below and watch for about 30 seconds.)
My primary worry is actually that I can DO the job, but not GET the job. As an introvert, I often don’t come off well in job interviews. I’m not good at speaking extemporaneously, especially in front of people whose purpose is to judge me, so I often walk out of a job interview feeling like I wasn’t able to show them how competent I really am. Still, as I said before, I think my overall application (resume, essay, etc.) was probably strong enough that a so-so interview might not prevent me from getting in to the program.
But there’s also a significant amount of worry that I can, as Mr. Waturi says, GET the job, but not DO the job. I’ve taught ESL before and…it’s hard. It’s probably some of the hardest teaching I’ve ever done. I depend on verbal communication so much. Teaching across a language barrier seriously depletes the tools I have available to me, not just for imparting knowledge to my students, but also for forming a rapport with them and taking care of basic classroom management and discipline. In my previous ESL job I was working with adults who were eager to learn, didn’t need any behavior guidance, and most of whom had at least a fair amount of English knowledge already. In some ways JET will be harder, because I will be working with younger students who may or may not be as disciplined and motivated as my adult students were, and who will almost certainly know less English. In some ways, it may be easier, as I will probably have a lot of support from the Japanese English teachers that I work with. In fact, from what I understand, most ALTs are basically like assistant teachers to the JTEs (Japanese teachers of English).
Anyway, I know it’s natural to have some worries about the future at this point, as it draws near to the moment when I will find out what my status is with JET. In a lot of ways, finding out that I got in to the program would be even more nerve-wracking than finding out I didn’t get in. If I don’t get in, I put my plans for Japan on the back burner for now, and start graduate school for my Master of Teaching with Western Governor’s University–also challenging, but much more familiar. If I do get in, then I double down on my language learning, and prepare to make one of the biggest changes of my life.
Speaking of language learning, here’s what I’ve been working on since my last update:
I’ve studied and made flash cards for Human Japanese chapter 24, covering topics like hobbies and travel–as I mentioned in my post about karaoke–and chapter 25, covering positional phrases like れいぞうこの うえに (reizouko no ue ni, meaning “on top of the refrigerator”).
In TextFugu, I’ve also reviewed the so-called K-S-A-D pattern, which occurs in several sets of words. For example: これ (kore) means “this one”, それ (sore) means “that one” (near the listener), あれ (are) means “that one [over there]” (not near the listener), and どれ (dore) means “which one”. ここ (koko) means “here”, そこ (soko) means “there”, あそこ (asoko) means “over there”, and どこ (doko) means “where”. And there are other sets of words that follow a similar pattern.
I also continue to study my flash cards for what I’ve covered so far, including the few kanji I’ve learned.
What I really need to do is figure out a way to start getting more auditory practice. That was one of the advantages to using JapanesePod101. Right now the only audio I get is the audio provided on TextFugu’s flashcards, and the free word of the day emails from JapanesePod101.
At some point, I want to start going to the conversation club at the Japanese Cultural Center downtown, but so far, it’s been hard to fit it in with the way my work schedule is. I’ve also heard that there are ways to get a conversation partner online, but I haven’t looked into this yet.
EDIT: Actually…I haven’t covered the demonstratives (K-S-A-D) on TextFugu yet. It’s coming up soon on the TextFugu table of contents, and I’ve done it pretty recently in Human Japanese, so I got confused on when and where I’d covered it–Oops!