Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A personal reflection at the end of the first month of the year.

It has been a month since the new year started perhaps a good time to reflect what went through my mind so far. I've got a few projects in hand, the Action Research on L1 usage, potential HV presentation and TED Tokyo speaker's workshop on this Sunday. I applied to the presentation a few weeks ago and got e-mail from one of organizers of TED Tokyo yesterday. In the application form, I wrote my thoughts regarding English education in Japan particularly on L1 use as a bilingual language teacher. My presentation would uncover what has been going on in the language teaching industry and classroom at school via my personal observation. I assumed nobody would take what I think and try to bring a bit of change seriously because I am just a person in a crowd. Although I personally think everyone has something extraordinary to tell, I never believed people would be interested in my own story for I haven't done anything extraordinary. But I suspect the catchy title - Would you like some BLT Sandwich in a language learning? might have attracted their interest. In fact, what I have contributed to the world is a small private language school for young learners with a little idea.

After my own daughter's birth, I set up Sunnyfield English to facilitate a learning space for local children via learning English. I never wanted to expand the business or numbers of students. In fact, I wanted to keep it as small as 2 to 3 classes a day for 5 days a week with 30 to 40 young learners in order to maintain the homy atmosphere and close relationship with them. However, from last year, the numbers of students started to drop and now become the half of the number used to be. The reason is crystal clear that children grew up and left our house and I haven't found the new ones to look after.  When my daughter was much younger, teaching at Sunnyfield English was the only job I had and I used to take a pleasure in organizing some events and did a bit of advertisement via posting flyers from time to time. Since some of friends of my students kept on joining, the number of students stayed almost the same for about 10 years. I was able to support myself graduating from 4 year university while my daughter was in elementary school while making a nothing fancy but comfortable living by the tuitions I charged. I certainly appreciate all the children and their parents for their support and understanding of my practice. After completing my BA in English literature, I went on learning further and got myself on a Master's program last year. In spite of my passion in this field, my interest and attention has been paid to more personal and professional development as a facilitator but not as an owner of the school.  Nevertheless, the biggest motivation and inspirations to keep this place is those children's laughters and the twinkling eyes when they discover something. I feel so blessed and spirited when I am with children in last 5 or 6 years. I suspect I see the little tiny chubby baby I held 13 years ago in every one of children I meet. In other words, I became one of the mums who blindly and helplessly love her children. It can't be complete unconditional because of little expectations I hold towards them but "humanly" unconditional and compassionate love. There are not much I can do for those beautiful creatures by sharing only an hour a week but one thing I believe I might have a chance to do is to plant the love of reading into the heart of them.  Unfortunately I can't go and read a story a night by their beds like I used to do for Momo but fortunately all of my children have their own mums who can possibly enjoy the stories children bring back to their homes as they leave my classroom. I might be naive to think that a language instructor can bring a bit of change at home but this goal would remain as my life time goal. And if this can be realized more pleasurably with a help of L1, I say why not! In order to keep this wishy-washy dream, this year I promised myself to tell the society where I am and what I do more actively, meaning making flyers and posting them.
After all, If TED Tokyo are willing to listen to what I think, my little idea which is planting the love of reading in the heart of little ones while utilizing children's L1 via BLT Sandwich, might be worth spreading.

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