Australia - Kyoko Nagashima (February 2009-December 2009)

Country of dispatch: Australia
Dispatch period: February 2009(-December 2009)
Name: Kyoko Nagashima

Photo of Kyoko Nagashima with students at the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Education and Training

    I was sent to the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Education and Training in February this year. I am currently assigned to Fort Street High School and Nihongo Tanken Centre as a Japanese-language assistant.

    Nihongo Tanken Centre is a Japanese-house facility that is managed and operated by the Department of Education and Training. Every day, students taking Japanese at various locations visit the center and learn Japanese through various activities. All teaching materials used in the activities are original and have been developed and created by staff. I work here twice a week as an assistant and also have been gradually getting involved in teaching material development.

    My other assignment, Fort Street High School, is a selective public school located near central Sydney. A foreign language (Japanese is one of the options) is a requirement for the seventh and eighth grades (first and second years at junior high school in Japan) and is elective from the ninth grade. All students who study Japanese through the 12th grade choose it as a subject for the graduation exam -- called the Higher School Certificate (HSC) – which determines the institution of their higher education. At Fort Street High School, I mainly teach 12th grade students who have chosen Japanese for the HSC to be ready for the exam.

    Japanese is a popular subject at schools in New South Wales State. However, no matter how long students have been taking Japanese, not many have the opportunity to talk with native Japanese speakers. Within Australia, Sydney has a particularly high immigrant population, and various languages are heard in town. Of course, many Japanese people are staying in Sydney. Yet even in a city like Sydney, how to teach a new language as a way to communicate is challenging task. Through my assistant work at the Nihongo Tanken Centre, I sense the desire of local Japanese teachers to expose their students as much as possible to real Japanese.

    Teaching here is very different from the Japanese-language instruction I did in Fukushima Prefecture where I grew up, and I often found myself puzzled at the beginning. Now, every day I find the new challenges to be very rewarding.

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