Volunteer Japanese Teaching at a Children’s Library

Ms. Oyogawa Yui (及川結), a junior in the TUFS School of Language and Culture Studies, participated in volunteer activities involving teaching Japanese to children, while she was an exchange student at Saint Petersburg State University.  The activities were held at Children’s Library No. 4 in the district of Krasnogvardeysky.  Below is Ms. Oyogawa’s report.

Volunteer Activity Dates
May 10 to June 26, 2018; sessions were held once per week for a total of 8 session

The opportunity to participate in this volunteer activity came when an acquaintance, whom I knew through working together on an event about Japanese culture held for a Japanese restaurant, informed me of it.  Interest in Japan is growing among Russians, as evidenced by the number of parents who had an interest exposing their children to Japanese education.  Moreover, while I initially came to Russia with the simple purpose of improving my Russian, I was very happy to have the opportunity to participate actively in the spreading of Japanese culture in a format that appealed to Russian people’s interests and expectations.  It was really a wonderful opportunity that I feel lucky to have been a part of.
The activity
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Once a week, I taught a class utilizing teaching materials I created myself.  Although I focused primarily on conversation and simple writing practice, given that my students were between 4 and 6 years old, I put a lot of effort into creating materials that could hold their interest for the length of the 45-minute class.  For example, instead of having them practice hiragana just by filling in a text, I’d have the students watch an A I U E O clip so that they were visually and audibly stimulated, and so that the shapes of the letters would stay locked in their memories.  In the last class, I had the students recite a self-introduction in front of their parents, so that the parents could see how much their children had learned.

What I learned through doing this activity
写真-2018-10-23-12-09-13 (1).jpgSince I have always loved children, it was no trouble to have fun teaching this class; however, it was a lot of work developing contents that would keep such young children interested in the Japanese language.  Despite this challenge, I put a lot of effort into handwriting texts, and felt rewarded for my efforts whenever my students would great me using the Japanese they had learned, and whenever I received compliments from the Russian parents for my halting Russian.  This experience taught me that what is most important in language teaching is not figuring out how to get students to effectively learn the language, but how to inspire in students an interest in the language and the culture.
This volunteer activity was one of the proudest experiences I had while studying broad, and I am deeply indebted to the students, the parents, and the library staff for giving it to me.