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Senseis’ Voices

Intensive Seminar Participant Reflections, January 2017

The Japan Foundation, Sydney was pleased to host 20 participants (17 teachers and 3 pre-service teachers) from Australia and New Zealand at the Intensive Seminar for Teachers and Pre-Service Teachers from 16-19 January 2017.

We’d like to say a big otsukare-sama to all those who attended and we look forward to meeting more sensei and ‘tamago’ (pre-service teachers) at our future seminars. Our next Intensive Seminar will be held 25-28 September 2017.

We have included 感想 (kansou; impressions) of some of the January 2017 participants below. The editors would like to thank the below participants for their contributions and we hope they inspire future applications.

I have just completed the Intensive Japanese Seminar and I honestly couldn’t recommend it enough. I believe that if I had have spent the same time in Japan itself I wouldn’t have learned any more than I did here in Sydney. The Japan Foundation teachers taught in an enthusiastic, organised and incredibly motivating manner so that we made the most of every minute we were there.

The main thing I enjoyed was having a chance for my ‘Japanese self’ to come out. In Australia, while teaching, I use Japanese of course, but I remain in my English speaking Australian character most of the time. However, surrounded by Japanese speaking peers and teachers, I could relax and the time was long enough to ‘feel Japanese’ over the seminar days.

I am not an artistic person generally and so have always lacked confidence in more ‘hands on’, creative activities. During this course though, we experienced an incredible introduction to Japanese calligraphy and also using Furoshiki to wrap a variety of items. Now I can’t wait to incorporate both of these aspects of culture into every year level. I know the children will love it! I will also be able to use the same Furoshiki PowerPoint from the resource pack, which the Japan Foundation generously hand out at the end of the seminar.

Lessons ranged from the hilarious Rakudo Comedy making lessons by the very ‘genki’ Jaro-san, to detailed and informative lessons on how to use ACARA when writing unit plans, by Anne De Kretser.

I am incredibly thankful for being allowed to take part in this fabulous seminar. Thank you for the meticulously planned program and for every lesson. Thank you for the delicious food at both the welcome reception and the final dinner where it felt like we had all known each other for years as we chatted away happily in Japanese. I couldn’t have had a more rewarding three and a half days.

After only having been teaching in Australia for six months, applying to be a part of the Intensive Japanese Language seminar offered by the Japan Foundation seemed like a great opportunity to build my classroom and Japanese skills and network with other teachers from across Australia and New Zealand. The program offered over the three and a half days at the Japan Foundation, Sydney, covered a wide range of topics, from looking at the ACARA Japanese Curriculum to working on our own Japanese skills, and sharing ideas and resources that were classroom ready.

Leading the intensive seminar were the knowledgeable Japan Foundation Japanese instructors who took sessions each morning, introducing topics on sustainability and curry, as well as working on writing skills and using more natural Japanese when speaking. Afternoon sessions focused on more cultural activities, with participants practicing shodō skills and furoshiki wrapping techniques. We were lucky enough to have a session with Anne de Kretser who was a fount of knowledge on the Australian Curriculum, answering many questions and providing some guidance despite the differences between States. Jarrod Hoare also joined in, demonstrating his skills in traditional Rakugo comedy performance and giving participants tips as we formulated our own comic sketches. The seminar covered a wide range of topics and provided many ideas ready for use in the classroom this year. Many thanks to the coordinators at JF Sydney for organising this event, it is something that I would definitely recommend and will try to attend again in the future.

At last, I got to participate in a Japan Foundation intensive for 3 and a half days in Sydney!  For this Cairns girl, going to the Big Smoke was somewhat exciting, but the most exciting thing was definitely the purpose for which we were there.  It had been a number of years since I’d been in a Japanese speaking environment, and for me, I was very much looking forward to just speaking Japanese, regaining some confidence, and being with a bunch of likeminded people from all over Australia, and even a few from New Zealand.  And I was not disappointed.  I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much as at the Networking Dinner!

Rather than give a blow by blow account, let me tell of my highlights.  RAKUGO!!!!!  LOVE IT!!!!  What an inspiration to see an Aussie boy (Jarrod) making it in the very Japanese world of Japanese comedy.  To me, though, Jarrod’s very special talent is his ability to bridge the language and culture barrier, using a mix of Japanese and English, and his very basic props that can become anything he wants them to be.  And so he enables an Aussie audience to not only understand and appreciate, but also participate in performing this traditional, and yet somehow contemporary comedic art. I left feeling I could possibly incorporate Rakugo, (and possibly other forms of comedy, such as Manzai) into my teaching, and am excited about the possibilities for engaging students in this way.

On a rather different note, I very much appreciated the sessions on the Australian Curriculum, Japanese.  Having been out of teaching for a couple of years, I have missed the latest developments in this area, and to hear from one of the developers, from the horse’s mouth, as it were, was a tremendous privilege that we regional folk rarely get.  I left feeling much more confident that I understood the focus of the curriculum, and could apply it to developing units of work for Japanese and a school program.

Having focused on the above two areas is in no way to diminish the other sessions.  I am always impressed by the quality, professionalism, and care of the Japan Foundation staff and programs – even to the point of taking me to the doctor when I was a little off colour, and setting up a zabuton bed for me! Many thanks to the entire team!  I’m only sorry I have to wait 3 years to apply again!

The 4 days I spent at the JPF intensive seminar has been the best investment in my professional development. Having the opportunity to network and share ideas with other teachers from a variety of contexts was energising and inspiring. I was invigorated to rejuvenate my programs and can’t wait to utilise some of the strategies in my classroom- I’ve already tried shodo with my year 10s after our session gave me confidence!

I am far more confident in my language skills after the seminar, and actually am excited to continue my language study as I found the intensive language format incredibly effective. I highly recommend this program any teacher looking for to reinspire their love for the Japanese language and culture.

The Japan Foundation’s Intensive Seminar: An Invaluable Experience

I am a beginning teacher and have already encountered many challenges motivating my students of Japanese in rural North-West NSW. As I was a participant of the 2012 JENESYS Intensive Summer Program for university students at the Japan Foundation’s Language Institute in Kansai, I had great faith in the Japan Foundation when I applied for this intensive seminar. I was blown away yet again at how the centre staff worked together to create a robust, challenging and enlightening three and a half days for 20 preservice and in-service teachers combined. Topics covered included “地球にやさしい” which provided ways we can integrate environmental awareness and cross-curriculum priorities into our teaching content, “tsukuji” which allowed us to study in-depth the history and growth of the Tokyo fish market industry, and an array of hands on learning activities such as rakugo and calligraphy. I particularly am grateful to see Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) taught in practice, as I would like to incorporate more of this pedagogy into my own teaching. I have participated in similar classes as these as a student, but now was able to identify teaching strategies and share resources with my “teacher’s hat” on, a very invaluable experience as new teacher.

The Japan Foundation Intensive Seminar I attended recently was an amazing opportunity for me to not only network with other Japanese teachers but to practice my spoken Japanese in natural situations with a range of different people. In addition to this, there were a number different sessions run by the knowledgeable and accommodating lecturers and staff at the Japan Foundation. They taught me various things that ranged from Japanese specific language skills to cultural aspects of Japan and these now can be utilized within my own classroom in New Zealand. Even though the three and a half days were quite intense, upon reflection I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of functional content that was covered and it has consequently inspired and encouraged me to incorporate some of it into my own teaching. I would definitely recommend this Intensive Seminar to any aspiring Japanese Teacher in New Zealand as I think the experience and confidence you gain from it is invaluable.

Photo: whale | Haline Ly

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