Sometimes I post knowing what I say is of interest to family and/or friends and sometimes I know it's mainly of interest to those who also live in Japan. So, I know not every post I write is going to interest everyone who reads. This one is mainly geared toward using this blog as a record of this particular time period in Japan. It'll allow me to look back on my situation a year from now and remember what it was like. For those who are curious (particularly my friends back home), it may give them a better idea of the types of people who seek out private teachers and give them an idea of who I'm spending time with (and when).
At the moment, I have 12 private students and teach in my apartment between 9-13 hours a week. Most students take one-hour lessons once a week on a regular basis with a few exceptions. Here's the roster:
(5:15 pm) 18-year-old university student who is studying French as her major. She works 8 hours a week at a coffee shop behind the counter and loves watching "24". Every week, I ask her what she saw on "24" from the DVDs that she rented. Her English level is low-intermediate mainly because she's relatively passive and gives short replies. She does seem to understand most of the questions I ask her. She's friendly but not effusive.
(6:30 pm) 40-something "office lady" type who works for a newspaper company that also arranges exhibitions around Japan. She's married to a man who works for Meiji chocolate company and her income is mainly used to fund travel abroad. Both she and her husband particularly enjoy nature and travel to sightsee or hike in national parks. She told me once that, due to a misunderstanding when filling out her customs declaration in New Zealand, she had to pay a 50,000 yen (about $500) fine because they're very strict about bringing in your own hiking boots. Apparently they are very concerned about bacteria being transported in and harming the ecosystem. This student was my very first private student after quitting my full-time job. She is a solid intermediate level. She understands what I ask her quite well and responds at length but often can't recall the necessary vocabulary quickly. She often pauses and taps her head while she tries to think of words. She's quite nice but very laid back.
(3:00 pm) 45-year-old housewife with 2 sons and a husband who has 2 jobs. This is the student that I wrote the "Magic English Pill" post about but she has since improved. She is hyperactive, effusive and very, very friendly. In fact, she asked me to hug her at the end of her last lesson because she'd read on the internet that it was "free hug" day on November 8. I documented her English skills pretty well in my original post but she has since come to accept repetition and some structure in the lesson. I'm much more positive about my future lessons with her now.
(6:00 pm) 64-year old man who has two grown sons and is married. He worked for Japan's major phone company all his life and retired several years ago. He now works freelance teaching computer and cell phone skills to elderly people at local community centers and proctors exams that allow people to obtain various qualifications. His level is low but in a very specific fashion. He can speak well about everyday matters but has very stubborn grammar problems and almost no ability to retain new information. He's nice enough but his lessons tend to be pretty tedious topic-wise. He spent an entire lesson talking about how he brushed his teeth. He chooses the topic he wants to talk about, not me. As is the case with many men in Japan, he's crazy about golf and has spent many lessons discussing the minutiae of his playing. He's my only male student.
(1:00 pm-temporary, only until the end of November) 45-year-old former housewife who is about to start working at an information kiosk at a major international hotel and is taking a few lessons to warm her up for the job. She's the most lovely, gentle person I could hope to meet. Her manner is friendly with none of the "fake" or needy overtones you sometimes get from students. She's lived abroad in English-speaking countries for several years and has excellent understanding but sometimes spotty grammar. I wish she were continuing as a permanent student but she probably won't really need lessons once she starts work.
(4:00 pm) 23-year-old flower shop employee who studied Islamic History in university. She's very shy but nice. Her English level is the lowest among my students and she can only briefly answer the most basic of questions. Her purpose for studying English is unclear because she seems to be happy at the flower shop (despite the fact that it doesn't utilize her education in any way) and doesn't want to advance her career. This student is semi-regular. She comes 2-4 times a month.
(7:00 pm) 41-year-old "housewife" who is now a college student studying Criminal Justice at a college on one of the U.S. military bases. She now takes 90-minute lessons or two hours depending on her need. She's not very housewife-like in her habits. She is a mixture of timidity coupled with fierce determination that has propelled her past her insecurities and fear. I'm so impressed by her that I often help her for free outside of the lesson time doing internet reasearch to help her with her assignments or correcting her homework on my own.
(2:00 pm) 44-year-old company employee who works in accounting. She has two children and is the mother of the girl who was featured in a cheerleading squad documentary I mentioned awhile ago in "Joyless Practice". She told me that she doesn't live with her husband but I'm not sure exactly why and don't want to ask the personal questions necessary to find out. She has lots of grammar problems and is working extremely hard on her own to improve her TOEIC score so she can move on to a different line of work. She does a great deal of homework, writes a diary in English, and has been reading "The Boxcar Children" series of children's books to help her improve her English. She's very friendly and a bundle of energy. With her situation, I don't know how she manages to do all the things she does.
(3:30 pm) 24-year-old insurance company worker who would like to learn English for travel abroad. I've only had one lesson with her so it's hard to really get a sense of her. She seems relatively calm and composed and that's pretty much all I could conclude.
(5:00 pm) 33-year-old company worker who works for a major electronics company. Her work is mainly centered around organizing exhibitions of her company's products worldwide. She's married to an accountant and comes from a large family and would like to have a lot of children one day herself. She needs English because her work requires her to travel abroad for her work. She's also studying Chinese. Among my students, she seems to spend the most time at her office and often is in poor health because she works so much overtime. I mentioned her situation in my post "Japanese Working Style". She's actually the next student I expect to lose because she's had to cancel a few lessons because of her health and I think her motivation is relatively low despite the need for English in her work.
(3:00 pm) 40-year-old company worker who works in the accounting section of an architectural firm. She currently hates her job and told me she was going to quit last week. She's studying English mainly for career advancement. She is unusual in that she has a career counselor to help guide her to improve her situation. It's even more unusual that he's Turkish (though he speaks fluent Japanese). She can express herself very well and tends to spend about half of each lesson complaining about her job but has vocabulary limits and grammar problems. She's the only student I've got who bought her own textbook so she can pre-prepare before the lesson.
Random days and times:
31-year-old freelance translator who makes subtitles for mostly English (sometimes other languages) movies for the Japanese audience. This student comes about once a month and we just go over transcripts of movies and watch movie clips. I answer any questions she has about vocabulary or meaning. She's nice but it's hard to develop a really good rapport with her since we rarely spend much time discussing personal topics and I see her infrequently.
I don't have any lessons on Monday and Tuesday because those are my husband's days off so they are my days off as well. In another year, if I'm still doing this, it'll be interesting to compare schedules.