A Bit About What We Do

Before I get to the usual sort of update, I thought I’d give a little bit of information about what we’re doing here in Japan.

Obviously, we teach English, but there are two major parts to our work (there is a third part, which I’m less fond of, but I won’t go in to that now).

First, we work for an eikaiwa (pronounced ay-kai-wah). The literal translation of this is “English conversation,” but the term usually refers to English conversational schools.

The school we work for is privately owned, with our immediate boss being the owner. She actually runs three schools under the “Active English” name, two in the city we live in (Oshu) and one in Ichinoseki, a city 30 min South. She also runs a fourth school (under the name “Friend’s English”) in the much larger city of Morioka, which is about an hour away by toll road, or two by the back roads. Population-wise, Morioka is, I suspect, still tiny compared to what you probably think of when you think of Japanese cities, but it is the capital of Iwate prefecture, so it has that going for it. Alongside that fourth school (literally) is her kindergarten, under the “Friend’s International Kindergarten” name.

All told, there are around ten (to my knowledge) full-time people involved in the company (including the boss and her husband). Of that, two are in the kindergarten, two are strictly admin, and there are 6 teachers (including the boss, who is split between admin, the kindy, and teaching). One of the remaining five teachers lives and works full time at “Friends,” while there are two teachers that are full-time Eikaiwa teachers at the “Active” schools.

This leaves Amanda and I and leads to the second part of our work. We both have a few classes at the Eikaiwa (she has 7, I have 5), but our primary work is because of a contract with the city school board. Most of our time is spent teaching in public elementary schools.

During the previous school year (Japan’s school year is from early April until late March, with a month off in summer and a month off in winter), we were responsible for teaching English in 23 of our city’s 33 elementary schools. This year I think that number may have gone down, but I’m not sure.

In any event, as the school sizes vary widely, we have had classes of 39 students (one class becomes two when there are 41 students) and I have had classes with 6 students. Last year Amanda actually taught at a school with a combined grade 1-6 student body of 23. One of the schools that I regularly go to has five grade six classes with 36 students per. So, yeah, the sizes vary a bit.

Most schools seem to have about 8-10 visits for the year, per grade (though it isn’t uncommon for schools to limit the English classes to grades 3+, particularly the larger schools).

Last year Amanda and I traded off on schools fairly often, so by the end of the year I had visited 21 schools and she had visited 20.

This year, the schools seem to have been divided between us, so we each have schools that may be referred to as either hers or mine.

Now, the real reason for this post. I have one particular school that has me visiting its one grade 5 & two grade 6 classes 34 times each. There are, by my count, about 43 weeks of classes in the school year. This means that I am at this one school pretty much every week, with the likely exceptions being a week or two before winter vacation, a week or two after it, and the last few weeks in March.

In essence, I am scheduled to be at this school almost every Wednesday all year from 9:00 am until 4:30 pm.

Now, classes very rarely go longer then 45 minutes. Sometimes I have one or another of the younger classes in addition to my three core classes, but I never have more than four classes on these Wednesdays. So, add it up. Or multiply, as the case may be.

45×4=180 minutes/60=3 hours of class time. 9:00 am – 4:30 pm is 7.5 hours.

Fortunately, they’ve started to invite me to their clubs (you know schools teams and such? Well, it’s mandatory that the kids (from Grade 4+) all join one or another of the school clubs). The clubs go from about 3:00-4:00. So far, they’ve only invited me twice (more accurately, they gave me an open invite two weeks ago, so I’ve only had two chances to visit).

There are the clubs one might expect, you’ve got the sports kids (baseball, soccer, basketball, volleyball, badminton), and you’ve got the science club and the computer club. You might expect a Home-Ec/cooking club, so there’s one of those. You can add Ping-Pong to the list of sports clubs. I think there’s an art club, and most schools have an internal broadcasting club (TV, not radio).

That leaves the Gundam model building club.

Oddly enough, I still haven’t gotten to my original purpose for this post.

You see, in those grade five and six classes I’m covering a lot more topics than at the other schools (for obvious reasons). We’ve been doing months and dates, so I introduced the question “When’s your birthday?”

I discovered that out of 53 grade six students, five were born in June.

Of those six, two share my birthday, as does Matsuda-sensei’s (one of the grade six teachers) mother.

Weird. Eerie. Odd.

What are the chances?

Well, according to my quick research, the odds of there being a trio with the same birthday in a group of only thirty is only 1 in 70, so I guess it’s not super odd, but the odds still favor finding three pairs of birthdays over one trio. Interesting. It still doesn’t answer the addition of the mother, though. That’s gotta up the odds.

So, that’s what I think is cool.

I’ll do a media update sometime soon, but not tonight.


~ by truth9 on June 9, 2007.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: