I’ve just completed one week of teaching at the Sayamadai Campus of Otsuma Women’s University and I’m quite pleased. Hannah and I are the only Westgate teachers on this campus. We occupy two classrooms and a small office in the corner of the second floor of a building that includes the cafeteria on the first floor. It seems a little remote, but we’ve gotten used to it and now it seems like our own little world.
I have 43 students (all freshmen) on my roster, but only an average of 30 have attended class so far. I teach seven classes a day, with one or two of these being “English Challenge,” depending on the day. EC is a class for extra practice; we can work on anything the students need help with, play games or have free conversation. It’s a time where students can get more help outside of a regular lesson. Compared to my last term, EC is not very popular with these girls. Perhaps that will change as the term goes on. I also have a lunch period, a regular break and two prep sessions.
Pair work during a lesson.
This is a small campus, with only 850 female students attending. But it actually seems like there are even fewer students than that. It might be because we’re in our classrooms all day and don’t see the majority of the students, but even when we arrive at the university in the morning, there are not many students around.
Our bus that takes students and teachers to and from the train station.
Hannah and I leave our apartments at 7:35 and walk to the train station which takes us just over ten minutes. Our trip from Tokorozawa to Irumashi, is about 15 minutes. We then take a bus to the campus, which takes about 20 minutes. At the end of the day, we get back on the bus to Irumashi at 5:35 and catch a train to Tokorozawa soon after. Unless we do errands or eat out, we’re usually back to our apartments by 6:30. Last term I was never home before 7:45, and sometimes later.
The cafeteria. Our classrooms are on the second floor of this building.
Each day, sample dishes of the day’s lunch choices are displayed. We purchase a ticket from the machine which corresponds to the meal we want. We take the ticket to the lunch counter and the staff gives us our meal. This system is common in many restaurants.
I’m teaching a “Basic” level. As before, my students’ English-speaking abilities range from very low-level to fairly conversant. And as before, these students are kind, polite, funny and shy. I’m struggling to learn their names, which seems to be more of a challenge than last term. I provide name tags that I ask them to use every day. Eventually, I hope I get to the point where I won’t need them. But it’s important that I learn their names, and for me, this is the most effective way.
Classroom and administration building.
Our classrooms are on the second floor of this building. The cafeteria is on the ground floor.
Entrance and exit drive. The bus waits for us at the gate.
Our Program Coordinator escorted us to the school the first day, took us on a tour, introduced us to various university staff members and helped us get oriented. She’ll make periodic visits to the school to make sure everything is going smoothly. Later in the term, she’ll observe one of our classes and evaluate us. She’s very helpful and supportive. All of the Westgate teachers have a “PC” who is their go-to person for the term.
Our schedule if pretty nice too! Due to school events and holidays, we have several weekdays off over the course of the term. This week we’ll only work three days, as there is a school sporting event on Wednesday and Thursday. Then we have the next Monday off. And we’re off Friday of the next week. Then we actually have to work a few full (Monday-Friday) weeks in a row before we get another workday off. This is not the same schedule for all of the Westgate universities, although there are some that have a week off during the term.
The U.S. and England in a Japanese classroom.
Headed home, riding in our special “teacher seats” at the front of the bus.
In just one week, I’ve gotten used to this campus and think I’ll be very content. I know the term will move quickly.
Westgate has recently updated their website; it’s easier to read and locate specific information. As of this post, they’re looking for back-up instructors for the Fall term: Westgate Corporation.
Let me know if you have any questions – I’ll be happy to answer them in the comments section.
Campus Mascot. Or, as I call her, Mangy Campus Cat.