Reflections on the Intensive Seminar for Teachers September 2023
Clare Martis sensei of WA attended the Japan Foundation, Sydney’s Intensive Seminar for teachers in September 2023. In this article Clare sensei talks about her experience and the inspiration she obtained from the seminar.
*Applications for the 2024 January Intensive Seminar are being accepted until November 22, 2023. Please visit the website: Intensive Seminar for Teachers – Japan Foundation, Sydney (jpf.org.au) for more information.
This September I had the privilege of attending the Japan Foundation, Sydney’s Intensive Seminar. In this seminar, we had the opportunity to practice Japanese at our own level, in addition to sharing resources with colleagues from all over Australia and New Zealand. I loved how even though it was a collaborative learning environment, we were all encouraged to set our own goals for the seminar and review our progress in relation to these at the end. I found this process highly rewarding in terms of identifying my professional learning needs but also seeing how far I progressed during a short three and a half days due to the quality of the seminar. I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the program and would travel all the way from Perth to do it all over again.
My two favourite seminar sessions were on how to use more Japanese in the classroom and the incorporation of the cross-curriculum priority of sustainability, as these aligned most closely with my own teaching goals. The former was highly useful in terms of emphasising the importance of immersing students in the target language. The relevance of this was not lost on me, as my exposure to Japanese in the seminar led to me thinking in Japanese, which is something I haven’t done since living in Japan on exchange. I was fully immersed in both Japanese language and culture, to the point where I felt like I was back in Japan. This is something to consider if a ticket to Japan is outside of your budget range!
The session on sustainability was highly useful to me as it gave me the time and space to think creatively about how I could better incorporate this cross-curriculum priority in my classroom. I found this session so inspiring that I ended up creating a presentation on the application of sustainability to key language topics such as shopping, hobbies, daily routines and so on, and presented it to my school’s language department upon my return to Perth. Even my colleagues who taught European languages found my presentation useful and have said they will be applying some of the ideas I shared with them in their own classrooms. Professional development experiences such as these are highly useful for graduate teachers, both in their own teaching journey and as evidence for their graduate portfolios.
An advantage of the seminar is that you have full access to the Japan Foundation library, which has extensive resources for both teachers and learners of Japanese. The library staff are highly helpful and did a fantastic job assisting me in finding specific resources for my own teaching goals, including learning about innovative hiragana teaching strategies. This was highly valuable as a beginner Japanese teacher.
A highlight for me was the ‘tadoku’ night, in which you read, and review picture books graded by difficulty level in Japanese, and then discuss these as a small group. As a teacher we spend so much time on our students that we sometimes forget the joy that comes from our own learning, and from simply reading for enjoyment.
One of my biggest takeaways from the seminar was something that can’t be found in a textbook, which is a renewed passion for teaching Japanese and for developing my own language skillset. The teachers at the Japan Foundation are so supportive and helpful, and do not mind staying back just so you can ask that one extra question. Seeing native Japanese teachers in action who clearly have such a love for what they do was inspiring. Not only did this seminar make me want to be a better teacher, but it has inspired me to challenge myself in terms of my own language studies and to prepare to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT).
I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to attend this seminar, as it was such a lovely reminder of why we do what we do. I would highly recommend this program to all teachers, but especially to beginner language teachers. The seminar equips you with so many useful skills in such a short period of time that you cannot help but feel accomplished. So, to anyone considering the program, I hope this has helped you make your decision. I am forever thankful for the support of the Japan Foundation and look forward to attending many future seminars and events.
Clare Martis, Mount Lawley Senior High School, WA
*Please visit the website: Intensive Seminar for Teachers – Japan Foundation, Sydney (jpf.org.au) for more information about the next Intensive Seminar in January 2024. Applications are being accepted until November 22, 2023.