Friday, July 31, 2015

Working with Special Needs Students

It may come as a surprise to you but working with special needs students or teaching at a special needs school is not a rare occurrence on the JET Program. All three of my elementary schools provide assistant teachers for students with learning disabilities or a seperate classroom for students with special needs.

For students with learning disabilties, continue to teach class and play games like normal but keep in mind that they may have a hard time learning and remembering English. Therefore, competitions where they have to quickly say words may end with the student crying from embarassment. Instead, have group games or pair them with a friendly student who can assist.

For special needs students, English class is more like English playtime. Nevertheless, catering to different disabilities for varing ages can be a challenge. I recommend asking the teacher about the students disabilities and planning lessons around their needs. Pinterest is my go-to for lesson plans. Cooking and crafts are ideal with special needs students, but don't be afraid to get creative. One of my students' favorite lessons was Twister! They didn't sell the game until the new Rycom Aeon opened this spring, but I printed and laminated dots that I taped to the floor. They had the best time speaking in Japanglish while twisting themselves into a knot. 

Mind you, you may have students that are bound to a wheelchair, but that doesn't mean that they can't have fun - just research! There are also great ideas online for students with severe mental disabilities, such as Down's Syndrom. The goal is for the students to have fun with you and use a bit of English. Teach them fruits while you make a parfait together or colors while you paint - the ideas are endless! Most importantly, enjoy your time with them; it's precious!

This is Jua. 
She's a special needs student who evaded her handlers.
I found her in the English room and played with her for a bit.
Jus enjoys English but this day she was testing my Japanese.
She saying "sekai" which means "correct" in Japanese. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Dentist in Japan: They'll Rip Your Teeth Out

Yea, I'm one of those people that floss daily

 I shouldn't have to remind any adult that dental checkups are necessary, but, I'm going to do it anyway - if you work in Japan (or don't), please, please, please do not skip out on the dentist. It's covered by medical insurance and therefore, it is cheap. Speak to other ALTs in your area and ask where they go for their cleanings. If they don't have a recommendation and they are an ALT veteran, feel free to judge them and never ask them for anything ever again. Not Just kidding.

Once you find a dentist, there is no need to make an appointment - just walk in, sign in, hand them your insurance card and tell them why you are there.

However, be ready for multiple visits because Japanese dentist complete one procedure at a time. For example, if you need your teeth cleaned, the the dentist will clean the bottom row one visit and the top row the next. Moreover, if you have multiple cavities, they will fill one cavity (maybe two if they are tiny) each session. It can be exasperating, but remember it's cheap.

Here is the fun part: dentist in Japan do not use anesthetics when filling a cavity. Thankfully I was forewarned, but I was frightened nonetheless. The dentist actually made fun of me for stiffening at the sight of the drill, but he assured me that it won't hurt. The only felt  uncomfortable when he blew air into my freshly drilled cavity. It was a strange cold sensation that was suppose to register as pain. I know, I'm weird.  I have nothing but wonderful things to say about dentist in Japan so practice some dental TLC and visit your local dentist!

Also, be sure to ask for white fillings! They are inexpensive and look better than metal fillings.

Good Luck!

Monday, July 20, 2015

School Food Porn 2.0

Lunch time in Japan is still my absolute favorite part of the day! Before coming to Japan, I was pretty hesitant about the food but now, I'm all for it. I'm a pesky pescatarian so if it has meat, aside from fish, I pick it out. Check out some my school lunches below! 

Love that salad! So yummy!

I'm not a big fan of white rice ;(

I asked them to serve me less rice. That day was sakura rice! Yep, sakura flowers in the rice!

The Luna case hold medicine. Today was muchi day. I ate it begrudgingly. 

I forgot my luna case so you can see my medicine in the glass cup. Today was natto day <3

Bread days are my favorite. These strawberries are from Ginoza!

Okinawan taco rice without the taco meat. I loved the mozuku soup and the pumpkin croquette!

Benimo or Okinawan sweet potato (purple) was so good! 

The final school lunch: Nan and Curry. 
I wondered about Nan Day earlier that morning so when I opened the bread container and found nan, I freaked! I absolutely love Indian food and Nan is my guilty pleasure, so this was a great way to end my final Kyuushoku.

You'll be missed!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Living in Japan Makes You a Weirdo

There is a wonderful post floating about the Internet called, "10 Ways Living in Japan Makes You Talk Like a Weirdo," and it's one hundred percent true! If you've never lived or studied abroad in Japan, you won't understand. Sorry!  However, if you are about to embark on this JET journey, get ready for Japan to change you in ways you never thought imaginable!

My favorites from this post are:

"Nani kore?" means "what's this?" I use this when I am utterly confused, which is often.

Omiyage is souvenir-like food from wherever you just visited
Sometimes, I get creative and use Espanihonglish! For example, in Ishigaki, I said, "Donde esta the beach desu ka?" It came out so naturally, it freaked me out for a second.

For more laughs, there is an awesome Tumblr blog with hilarious ALT-ism: Inner Thoughts of a JET


Ishigaki Island Adventure

The rowdiest OkiJETs assembled for my last vacation.

Photo: Tristan Salvenera
I'm sure you know by now that Okinawa is a tiny Japanese island located fairly close to Taiwan. I currently live on Okinawa's main island, Okinawa Honto, but I recently had the opportunity to visit Okinawa's southern-most island, Ishigaki.
Sixteen of us met up at Naha International Airport to board an hour-long flight to Ishigaki. From there, we separated into three groups and dined by ourselves until we met up the following morning for snorkeling and scuba diving.
Cami, an Ishigaki OkiJET, organized the snorkeling and scuba diving! Thanks girlie! The snorkeling spots were absolutely amazing. I'm not the best swimmer (or so I like to tell myself), but I enjoyed floating about and checking out the sea life. Scuba diving was also a lot of fun, but I would have liked more freedom to move around. I also become a bit seasick coming out of the water so once I put my gear away, I hoped back into the water in my wet suit and relaxed for a bit.

Later, we were dropped off a Paniri Island, a privately owned island where we ate lunch, got in trouble, and jumped off the peer. Paniri Island had the most beautiful water I've ever seen! I should know, I've swam in the Caribbean. Trust me when I say that the Pacific Ocean is where it's at. Sorry, not sorry Atlantic.

Our night was eventful; one of my favorite parts was watching the boys go completely HAM during a Taylor Swift song at karaoke.

On second day we all took a 15-minute ferry ride to Taketomi Island. This island is known for their traditional Okinawan architecture, Shisa, star sand beaches, and water buffalo cart rides. We rented bicycles and rode to Kondoi Beach, a shallow yet absolutely gorgeous beach, where we lazed about and then moved to Kaiji Beach to find some star sand. Star sand isn't actually sand, it's the remains of tiny star-shaped crustaceans. It takes some effort to search through the sand in order to find them, but a small shop near the beach sells small bottles of star sand for \300. It's great omiyage!

That night, we ate, drank, and spent way too much money at an izakaya. Later, we migrated to a bar for more drinks as well as pool and darts.

It was truly a wonderful vacation with only a tiny bit of drama. ;)

Want to know more about Ishigaki? Click the picture below!