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Teaching with higher standards

I REMEMBER sitting in my classroom just after school one day a few years ago, looking out the window and admiring the plethora of snow that had been descending on London since early morning. Not just any snow, rather, the United Kingdom's version of a snow storm. School had closed early that afternoon and I had just dismissed my overjoyed Year 8s barely past the stroke of noon. I could already see them hurling snowballs in the distance. Apparently there would be snow the next day as well, bringing about even more school closures. 
However, a second thought crossed my mind that day: What of their education? Our students were going to miss out on a whole afternoon of enriched and fruitful learning - to the joy of many, admittedly. But what about Macbeth, poetry, the greenhouse effect... And what of Monday's classes? Hours wasted. How could our students learn outside of the classroom?
This train of thought eventually drifted to the question: Can students learn without the comple…
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Culture shock in Tokyo

WHEN I lived in London, once upon a time, I remember the concrete beatings my shoes used to take walking from my flat to the station, the station to the next destination. That combined with the London general pace contributed to a reasonably fast deterioration of the soles of my shoes. And I thought that was pretty bad. Until I encountered Tokyo’s unforgiving concrete.
I love to walk and explore whenever I move to or visit any and all cities. It’s a vital step in the initial introduction to my new surroundings, overcoming any culture shock that I might have. Prior travel experience most certainly helps with the transition that we all go through when moving to a new location as you have some prior knowledge of adapting to unfamilarities too numerous to count sometimes. Still, there are instances when even that is not enough and one becomes overwhelmed with the enormity and scale of a city, its incredible otherness. Where walking is simply not enough. There are times when you just canno…

Is teaching abroad worth it?

IT may come to you on the way home from your part-time job, or in the middle of a leisurely stroll through campus on the way to your next class. Perhaps a friend suggested it countless times? Or you've known it since you were in Grade 9, sifting eagerly through the pages of Julius CaesarThe decision to become a teacher is something most of us make for one reason or another and at very specific times. Like a sudden revelation.
Once decided, we propel ourselves to panicked - at times - fulfilment of volunteering hours with students of various ages. We polish our Philosophies of Education and ultimately send our applications to a number of 'Teacher Colleges'. Learning the art of teaching itself within the walls of these colleges and universities is another topic altogether. However, the final diploma and subsequent certification to teach in whatever provinces, states or countries is the lasting achievement of all your hard work. But where to go from there?
There is no need…

Why did I move to Japan?

"WHAT brought you to Japan?" This was probably one of the most frequently asked questions that my students asked me (and still do) when I first started teaching here. The answer I generally always gave was "I wanted to get more experience teaching one-to-one English - predominantly business and IELTS prep - but also conversational language." All true. I would THEN expand my answer to the second and more common expected response: "I want to explore the culture of Japan. I love Japanese food, the people and trains. Nature, etc." All true as well. I generally didn't include the stereotypical adoration of manga and anime, even though I am a fan of a handful.
Was I giving a stock answer? Not quite. I have always wanted to teach in Japan, ever since I began my educational career. The history of the country always fascinated me. I generally favoured studying the Edo period, of course. The samurai, bushido, shogun after shogun. I watched "The Seven Samu…