January, 2013: Breeze Issue #63

A Free Monthly E-Newsletter for Friends of Japan & Teachers of Japanese

Yuka Nakanishi

International School of Beaverton
Beaverton, OR

My name is Yuka Nakanishi and I am an assistant Japanese language teacher at the International School of Beaverton (ISB) in the State of Oregon. ISB includes grades 6 through 12 and offers students the option to take three foreign languages Spanish, Chinese and Japanese. Every year, ISB has an intern (like me) to assist with each language offered at the school. ISB has approximately 800 students of which more than 250 are taking Japanese. Most of the students will take the International Baccalaureate (IB) exam when they are in their last year (12th grade) and all the students work very hard to earn their IB degree.

When I first arrived here at ISB, I was surprised by the class schedule. School starts early in the morning at 7:40a.m. and there are four periods. Each period is 85 minutes long, which gives teachers time to teach and students plenty of time to practice their lessons.  

As an assistant, I have the opportunity to see different classes and assist both native and non-native Japanese teachers. Each teacher has their own teaching methods, and I learn a lot from them. During class, I attempt to speak only in Japanese to the students and they do the same to me. It is very challenging, but it pleases me when they understand what I am saying and they learn more vocabulary. I also enjoy the fact that the students study hard and use the Japanese language and culture they learn as a tool to expand their knowledge of the world.

For next year, we have planned a class project between students in America and students in Japan. We’ll write about our lifestyles, traditions, vacations, and schools.
We will learn about the similarities and differences between students in Japan and students in America as well as learn and reflect about each other’s culture.

My experience working and living in the United States has been meaningful so far. I would not be able to handle this new experience if it were not for the people around me who have provided me such great support. In addition, I cannot forget about the students who are a great inspiration to me. I am very happy to have this opportunity to work in this program. Also, I am very thankful to the people who support this program, including 1st and 2nd year J-LEAP participants.