Japan has a rainy season. It usually begins around June and ends in the middle of July. Some people are annoyed by its warm temperature and high humidity, but I like this rainy season because mountains become greener and seem to be very lively. It is my first time to come back to Japan during this season since I moved to the U.S. 5 years ago. I am enjoying my stay a lot.
On the second day after arriving in Japan, I went to a book store and saw a huge section of English text books. I took a look at some of them and remembered the time when I was teaching English in Japan. My students were junior high and high school students. When I was teaching English to them, it was easy for me to understand their learning situation. In other words, I could easily find what problem they were having from talking with them, reading their writing and looking at their answers to questions. I was able to do this because I studied English in the same way that they did. My experience of learning English gave me intuition in teaching.
Teaching Japanese, however, doesn’t go the same way. Japanese is my native language. I have never actually studied the language in the way that my students learning Japanese do. Thus, it is more difficult for me to understand what problems students tend to have and why. There are a lot of times that I receive questions about Japanese grammar that I have never thought of. One of the examples is that we have Particles of Speech “ni” and “e”. They are used as in “Kouen (park) ni/e(to) iku (go)”, meaning “(I) go to the park.” I was asked when we use “ni” instead of “e” and vice versa. I couldn’t answer the question. I knew that I distinguished them unconsciously but I didn’t know how. After the class, I studied what governs the choice and then I finally became able to explain the difference in the next class.
When you grow up with a language and you have no trouble communicating with it, you might not “study” the language unless you are required to. Fortunately, I must study Japanese and understand it better to teach effectively. Studying expands my knowledge of the Japanese language and culture.
Through teaching your language, students will be more interested in your country and culture, and at the same time, your knowledge of your language and culture will be deepened. How nice it is to be a language teacher!