From 21st to 25th July 2008, 14 teachers came to the Japan Foundation London Language Centre to attend this year's Japanese Language Refresher Course. The course aims to submerse Japanese-language teachers in Japanese for a week, so they can brush up and improve their language skills.
Each morning the group came together for some warm up activities, which included Japanese dancing (Bon-odori) and singing (Hotaru no hikari).
The teachers were then split into two groups depending on their self-assessed level of Japanese, and had language sessions throughout the day, delivered by the JFLLC's Japanese-language advisors, and Japanese teachers from SOAS. As part of the language sessions the participants worked on writing their own haiku, and the participants in the higher-level group worked on their own production of a Japanese ninja drama.
In the morning of Wednesday 23rd July (the third day of the course) participants visited the British Museum, and were given a tour of the Japanese exhibits. They then chose their favourite exhibits, and the lower-level group used these as inspiration for their haiku. The higher-level group later made posters on their chosen artefacts. Following the British Museum, all participants joined teachers for a lunch at a Japanese Restaurant.
Following each afternoon's language sessions, participants were offered resources sessions including a tour of the Japan Foundation library and introductions to various resources produced by the Japan Foundation (Erin's Challenge, Ready Steady NihonGO!, and Minna no Kyozai).
On the final day of the Refresher Course, Japan Foundation staff and StepOutNet members were invited to watch as participants presented their haiku and gave their Japanese drama performance. The participants were then presented with certificates by JFLLC director Harufumi Murata.
The participants' comments below reflect the popularity of this year's course:
Super language teaching which had helped secure some of my dodgy understanding of grammar! ... Thank you all so much for your hard work and kindness (Meredith Bryer, primary school teacher)
I received many useful teaching materials and I am so impressed with the facilities that the JFLLC has to offer teachers of Japanese. I feel thoroughly supported and can't wait to try out some of the materials in September. I found the teachers inspiring and well-prepared and very professional (London secondary school teacher)
I enjoyed the variety of the course and opportunity to learn more about Japanese culture as well as the language. I loved doing the [play]! I feel a lot more confident about doing creative things in my lessons and can see how valuable drama is in learning a language. All the teachers were excellent and this made the whole course very enjoyable and stimulating (Mairi Smart, Audenshaw School, Manchester)
The Japan Foundation would like to thank the participants for their hard work and success during the course.