Umi Tutor Interview
- Q. Hello Umi-sensei, could you introduce yourself?
A. Hi, this is Umi. It’s been 4 months since I started teaching on Cafetalk. I am learning, struggling and I also am having fun teaching. Although I am a Japanese, I actually wasn’t interested in Japanese or Japan a couple years ago. (I loved Manga and books since I was little though!) After traveling many countries, I started realizing how unique and interesting my own country was. I feel I still haven’t understood my country fully. There are still many things that are very mysterious about Japan and I’m also very interested in how this country is going to change from now. The reason that I started having interest in teaching Japanese was because someone local asked me about something while I was traveling overseas. Then I’ve discovered how wonderful it is to teach Japanese. It’s hard to explain, but I got so excited when I saw my student carefully taking notes then trying to repeat to practice. That made me want to do this, teaching Japanese.
- Q. Could you tell us a little bit about the city you live in?
A. I live in Sapporo, Hokkaido. Very north of Japan. Sapporo is a mixture of urban and country side and I think it’s well balanced. We have lots of department stores but never too packed to enjoy shopping. We have famous festival where you can find a castle or animation characters made with snow every year. It is pretty amazing especially at night time with the lights up. Hokkaido has 4 distinguished seasons just as any other part of Japan, and you can enjoy different faces depending on the seasons. Right now it’s Autumn Leaves season and there are lots of tourists visiting, enjoying the breath taking sceneries. My recommended area to visit in Hokkaido is called Otaru which is located next to Sapporo city. There are many hills in Otaru, where you can look over the old buildings or houses that bring you nostalgy. Hokkaido is touching ocean all the way around so yes, fishes and sea foods are so fresh and just delicious! I often go out on day trips there to get freshen up.
- Q. You’ve also visited may countries overseas. Could you tell us a little bit about the experiences being overseas?
A. Yes, I started being a back packers 11 years ago. I think I’ve been to almost any part of South East Asia, but I usually go back to my favorite country multiple times. I especially like to walk around in a country side and I love to find out about just everyday life of locals. On the most recent trip to Turkey, I got to hang out with lots of kids and cats. I have more than hands full of stories visiting the world heritage, but the greatest ones are when I met people there and spent time with them there.
- Q. I’ve heard your hobby is Snorkeling, where was the best place you dived?
A. It was at the small island called Gili Trawangan in Indonesia. Unfortunately, all the corals were destroyed… but the transparency of the water was amazing. I got to see just various sea creatures in even shallow water. It is my favorite diving spot because the water temperature is comfortable, and the water current isn’t so fast so you can directly go in from the beach. If you dive in with bread and sausage, you will end up with lots of fishes surrounds you and that’s actually really fun. I don’t really have many friends who snorkels which isn’t’ so fun. I go to Philippines often recently. Beautiful oceans as well! My Tutor name is coming from the fact I love Umi (ocean in Japanese) and a part of my real name.
- Q. What kind of things do you watch out for when teaching Japanese?
A. I concentrate on making students feel comfortable when students are so nervous in the first lesson. I try to create a relaxed situation for students so that they will start speaking without getting nervous. I try to be flexible and choose the appropriate speed and the vocabularies for the students. I speak clearly and slowly when I ask questions. And that is to make it easier for the students to catch what I say and also to give them time to search for the answer while they are listening. I also fix the serious mistake both in pronunciation and grammar.(Don’t worry, I won’t be too strict!)
- Q. Could you tell us the main feature of your lessons?
A. I would like to teach all levels and kinds of students. Students who just want frank conversational lesson, serious grammar lessons, and absolute beginner are all welcomed! If the student feels a lesson isn’t working for him/her, or if the student is dissatisfied with the outcome, I usually try my best to be flexible and rethink our strategy together even if it’s mid-way through a lesson. In free conversational style lessons, I would like students to do the talking as much as possible. In grammar lessons, if it’s a new grammar, we will use substitution method and repeatedly practice. We will use the text book called “Minnano Nihongo”. I will be using various tools like white board and pictures for an easier understanding.
- Q. Lastly, message to your student!
A. Thank you for taking my lessons. I am learning a lot of things from my students. I will always try my best to be better, let’s enjoy lesson together! I look forward to seeing you and having lessons with you regardless of new or existing students. For those who is struggling to express yourself! Don’t worry, even if it looks like you are not moving, you are. Take it slow and let’s move forward little by little with me!