As the coronavirus situation snarls business and school operations across Japan and world-wide, one thing that many people are facing is an abundance of “home time”. Whether you’re shutdown for the outbreak or just laying low to stay safe, a lot of people are finding themselves with room for new hobbies, or more time for the things they always wanted to do – or told themselves they would do. If you’ve got a bit more time on your hands, why not step up one of the following hobbies which will also pay off in your English lessons?
1) Learning Japanese
When it comes to raw ability to communicate a meaning clearly, especially when it’s difficult to explain in other terms or with really low-level English students, nothing will cut through the fog of unclear translation than a select few words or a sentence in Japanese. Selective use of Japanese throughout your lesson as a tool is a definite asset, but learning Japanese also helps you understand the student when they inevitably end up unable to put something into English.
Now, you may say “No, we should use 100% English in the classroom,” and that’s a noble goal – but its not always suitable. If your student doesn’t understand “noun”, will you waste 10 minutes of their valuable lesson time trying to explain it in English, or just say 名詞 (meishi)?
There’s no better way to pick up some new vocabulary for yourself than to put your nose into a book. As an English teacher, you’ll start to notice new words you either hadn’t seen, or hadn’t really thought about, before. This pays off for your students when you can correct or suggest to your students with new and more well-spoken vocabulary, and looks great on you as your wide knowledge of English makes an impression.
3) Try out a Relatable Hobby
As you teach your way through the millions in Japan, you’ll start to notice trends when you ask your trusty old “What do you do for fun?”. With Japanese people, like golf and cooking are extremely common, and knowing about it or having just a bit of hands-on experience with it goes a long way to having common ground with your students. In the same way, trying out an interesting new hobby can give you some new experiences and stories to tell your students. It’s really valuable in keeping your English lessons fresh with your longer-term students and giving your self-introduction to new students some spark.
Honorable Mention: Going Out Drinking with Friends
OK, perhaps the drinking part is optional (despite being one of Japan’s biggest pastimes), but honestly – one of the best ways to improve your lessons and make them more enjoyable is to practice your own conversational ability. Try out your storytelling, joking, and just plain old chit-chat. Ask questions and if you’re feeling bold, strike up conversation with friends-of-friends or others. If you have a grand time talking away with your friends, imagine how popular your lessons will be when you can give that feeling to your students. Sadly, this one has become a little bit more difficult in recent days, nobody wanting to risk becoming a social pariah by being the one to “bring” corona into their workplace. Well, whether you brave the izakaya with your friends or just try talking to your friends and family remotely online more, it certainly pays to continue socializing… for both your English and your mental health!