Shiho in Germany Tutor Interview
- Q. Hi Shiho! Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. May we ask you to briefly introduce yourself?
A. Hello! My name is Shiho and I currently reside in Germany. I completed my Japanese teacher training course in August 2022, and have been teaching mainly Japanese lessons on Cafetalk since September 2022. I also have experience studying in Germany, so I offer consulting sessions as well as German language lessons.
- Q. Please tell us more about your hometown and the area where you currently reside.
A. I was born and raised in a small town in Kanagawa Prefecture. Although it was in the countryside, it was conveniently located with easy access to downtown Tokyo. Since I enjoy being in places surrounded by nature, I spent about 4 years in Shizuoka Prefecture during my undergraduate years and earlier on in my career. I currently reside in Germany. I live in a fairly large city, but a short train ride takes me to the suburbs, where I can enjoy a slower pace of life. There are many Korean and Japanese food grocery stores here, so I often use them. (This is very important to me.)
- Q. What motivated you to become a tutor? Alternatively, what do you think is the attraction of this profession?
A. I have always loved taking care of others, and my dream when I was younger was to become a kindergarten teacher. I feel rejoiced when I am able to share the joy of being able to find the clue, and the feeling of relief when the problem has been solved. There were several staff members from other countries in the office that I used to worked in, and I often taught them Japanese and helped them with their daily life in Japan. I taught them about Japanese culture and in return they taught me about their home countries, which was very refreshing and interesting. This led me to attend a Japanese language teacher training course to obtain my certification. Teaching is the main part of my job, but at the same time, there is also a lot to learn about teaching yourself. I interact with a lot of people, so I also get to learn about other’s thoughts and various ideas. I’m all about constantly learning, so being able to do that is the biggest appeal for me!
- Q. What motivates you to pursue your career as a tutor?
A. I believe that a tutor’s job is always about the student. I am always asking myself, “Wouldn’t my students be happier if I did it this way?” “Would it be easier to understand if I taught them this way?” and so on. Also, in order to help motivate my students, I sometimes directly ask them what they thought of my lesson. If they are honest and tell me that it wasn’t very good, I feel a sense of regret (lol). However, that’s also when I get motivated to work even harder. There are many more wonderful tutors out there, so I look at their lesson content and services etc. and think to myself, “I’m going to try my best not to be outdone!” However, the most important thing is to enjoy teaching. I feel that if you do things in a positive manner without thinking too hard, you can keep yourself motivated.
- Q. A lot of students are probably curious about the atmosphere in your lessons. What can a student imagine a lesson with you to be like? What’s your teaching style?
A. First and foremost, having fun is the most important part! I understand that some students want to be addressed in a more formal manner, while some may want to speak more casually, as well as a variety of other requests. For students who are new to my lessons, I first listen to their needs and tailor lessons to each individual’s learning style. For students who continue taking my lessons, I also ask about their recent learning progress. Of course, it would be nice to end the lesson with “I had fun today!“, but since you are paying for a one-on-one lesson, I try to make sure that my students feel that they have learned something. I also immediately point out any mistakes made during the lesson. You can learn vocabulary as much as you want later, but once you have learned pronunciation, it is difficult to fix those mistakes. We will practice over and over again so that you will be able to speak with a correct pronunciation before you learn them incorrectly.
- Q. Since you offer a variety of lessons, are there any lessons you can recommend in particular?
A. I recommend my “Japanese for Beginners” lessons for beginners, and “30 Minute Discussion” lessons for intermediate to advanced learners. Japanese is the exact opposite of high context cultures like German and English, and it uses a communication style that emphasizes factors other than language when conveying a message. For example, your tone when speaking, the pauses, facial expressions, gestures, and silence are not easy to understand for Japanese learners. Since I have mastered both languages, I can offer lessons tailored to learners from various countries. I can also explain things in German and English, so students who are new to the Japanese language can also take my lessons with ease!
- Q. What are you usually up to when you’re not teaching on Cafetalk? What are your hobbies and interests?
A. I am now working hard to learn German and English. I can now understand grammar and the basic of the language, but I am struggling to express myself and give my opinion using those languages. Japanese education emphasizes input so much that output is quite difficult, and now that I am an adult, I have realized how hard it is... In my spare time, I go out for drinks with friends and go hiking on my days off. In my free time, I go out for drinks with my friends, and on weekends I enjoy going hiking. In the last few years, I have become obsessed with Korean dramas and have watched so many that I can now understand Korean quite well! (lol)
- Q. Finally, would you like to leave a message for your current and future students?
A. It takes courage to start something new, or to enter a world unknown to you. I believe that if you take that first step, a wonderful world awaits you. Even if you have any doubts just give it a try! I would be delighted if we could share our joys and frustrations together. I am not perfect yet either, so if you have any opinions or requests, please feel free to let me know. I look forward to meeting you in our lessons!