Heather Thomas '07
Teaching Japanese in Australia
I have completed two postgraduate degrees (two more years of study) to qualify to teach Japanese to children in Australia. I have received the Graduate Diploma in Language Other Than English (LOTE) Teaching, which combines linguistics and language teaching/learning methodologies with practical teaching experience, and the Graduate Diploma of Education in Primary Teaching, which is a one-year qualification that, when combined with a Bachelor's, certifies people to teach up to grade eight in Australian schools. The LOTE Teaching degree qualifies me to teach Japanese at all levels, but a much stronger link with Japan is necessary (in my opinion) to teach at higher levels such as technical courses and community classes, so I am going back to Japan to experience more language and culture so I will feel that I am at a high enough professional level to teach Japanese to all age groups. Basically, non-native speakers who choose Japanese teaching as a career must realise that this requires a commitment to both teaching and Japan that is both personal and professional! :)
Teaching Japanese at Ivanhoe Grammar School:
The pictures were taken during my practical teaching experience at Ivanhoe Grammar School in Ivanhoe, Victoria, Australia and the Japanese Language Assistant, whom you can see in some of the photos, is named Takashi Ohi. He is studying to teach high school students in Japan. Takashi taught us the Soran Bushi (a traditional Japanese dance), which you can see us practicing in the photo on the left. Ivanhoe hosts Japanese Language Assistants often, and the Japanese teacher at the primary school, Sue Payne, works alongside them to help them become better teachers and benefit from their native language knowledge. They do not have an immersion program, but the children, starting in kindergarten, learn to recognise simple kanji and by grade 6 are able to write most hiragana and do computer projects on Hiroshima and other important cultural topics. Sue, the Japanese teacher, also observes lots of Japanese holidays and festivals. She has over 20 years of experience teaching Japanese to children and visits Japan often.