Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Team Takashima's School Visit to Kuang Ming

Professor Takashima of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies and his team came to visit Kuang Ming, exchanging ideas and practices about international education with the principal and me. To seek potential opportunities to work with more Japanese high schools, I proudly presented in English about how we won the International School Award from British Council Taiwan by conducting Skype exchange projects with my Japanese partners, complete with other cultural exchanges from AIESEC and NECU volunteers.

During the Q and A session, Takashima reiterated the necessity of using the language with a purpose in mind, meaning a specific topic related to students’ real life can better motivate their willingness to speak English with their foreign counterparts. Also, he kindly suggested that the goal of the project should be aimed at benefitting more students, inclouding lower achievers,  in the form of a class-to-class interaction and group presentations.

One by one, my students shared what they’ve learned from this unique course with the Japanese professors, hilighting the importance of being able to speak English and learning to appreciate cultural differences. Then, those Readers' Theater students did an absolutely amazing job by putting on a great performance. Without a doubt, they have left a strong and positive impression that they had lots of fun not only practicing speaking skills but using vocal expression to bring the characters alive.

The chairman of Kuang Ming Parent Association and his wife, who both speak fluent Japanese, accompanied us throughout the campus tour and the meeting. It was quite amusing that sometimes they all conversed in Japanese leaving only the principal and me completely clueless of what they were talking about. Also, some students were actually lucky enough to interact with Takashima by answering his questions, such as "Do you like this school?" and " What's your favorite subject?".

As a teacher, you don’t just put your students in front of the laptops and expect them to talk, especially given the fact that speaking English can be very intimidating to most Taiwanese students, overwhelmed by endless mechanical drills, homework, and written tests in a typical test-driven setting here in Taiwan. Therefore, scaffolding and complete preparation before those exchanges are extremely crucial. With the ideas of Task Based Learning and Backward Design, I did my best to help the students better prepare for their presentations.

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