Be prepared for a really long post with a lot of stuff about the Canadian school system.
The TeacherOur teacher was a woman at the end of her thirties/beginning of her forties I think.
She came across as really nice and energized, open and friendly on most days.
As a native Portuguese speaker, she had what I think is a pretty neutral Spanish without much of an accent, and she clearly knew a lot about the culture and the informal ways of speaking.
On some days she was a bit short with the students, and although she had said she would always welcome more questions, I felt unwelcomed and cut-off on some days. Not on all, remember, on most days she was very willing to explain things to me and/or listen to me ramble about things I had discovered.
I also realize that I tend to be long-winded with questions, so I can understand why she didn't have as much patience as would be needed for dealing with me.
The Teaching StyleHer teaching style was very nice and accommodating to every student.
She took care that everyone was on the same page and reviewed all the stuff we did extensively.
I oftentimes felt bored, but since she allowed me to do my own thing (i.e. reading, homework for other classes, extra work) it wasn't too bad.
She did a lot of group and partner work exercises and also a lot of oral work.
I thought it was a bit weird that we were able to get more than 100% (I know what I'm talking about here, okay, I got 225% on oral participation).
The ContentThe course was pretty easy, although I think that might have had to do with the fact that I have taken Latin for four years and pick up languages relatively easy.
I am now able to talk about myself, my feelings (to an extent), at least in the present, about sports, my family, my house, my friends, my pet and being sick.
We could have done more, I think, especially on the cultural part (when I think back to Latin and how much "Kulturgeschichte" culture history we did there), so the balance was a bit askew in that regard, but on the other hand: Less to study for me!
All in AllAll in all I enjoyed taking this course; it was pretty easy and allowed for a good grade without a lot of work. With having the subject every single day, there was little time to actually forget things, and we did enough worksheets to keep everything in mind.
I liked it.
The TeacherOur teacher was a Canadian 51 year old man who was pretty relaxed, so not really my kind of teacher.
We've often only done worksheets while he researched/prepared stuff for his Cross Country class.
He easily got distracted and left us to our own devices during tests several times. Even during the final exam, although there not a single student took advantage of it (the same cannot be said about the normal tests, although he kinda guilt-tripped us into not-cheating).
The Teaching StyleAs I said, he got distracted very easily and seemed to believe in mangas with subtitles being able to teach us Japanese.
I can attest that subtitles in another language are about the opposite of what you want, because people don't listen to the words but only read the text. Our vocabulary was nowhere near big enough to actually watch movies, though.
We worked with worksheets a lot, and he didn't even compile his own tests most of the time; and for our vocabulary tests, we were allowed to use "cheat-sheets" where the Hiragana or Katakana words were written out.
His teaching was too relaxed for my liking, it was more like a club than a regular course.
The ContentThe textbook we were using was sub-par, which affected the amount of learning we got done rather severely. I would have wished for more actual note-taking (I think I took a total of two pages or so) and not only verbal vocab learning.
I know how to do the basic small-talk like introducing myself, commenting on my family and things like that, but on my own on Japan? I'd be absolutely helpless.
All in AllAll in all I regret taking that course. I could have spent this block so much more efficiently and interestingly, and more often than not it felt like I had a spare.
We watched way too many movies. Seriously. (For example: Kamikaze Girl, some weird death metal movie I forgot the title of, Castle in the Sky, Princess Mononoke, Kiki's Delivery Service, My Neighbour Totoro, and probably one or two more which I can't remember right now)
The TeacherOur teacher was a probably mid-thirties, and his parents had been from ... Germany! (If I remember correctly. We talked a bit about it) They fled during the war, but he grew up in the US and in Canada.
I liked him, but he sometimes came across as more interested in flirting with the female students he'd apparently taught in grade 10 already (at least I think it was flirting, but more so playful ... he's married with two kids).
The Teaching StyleHe made his own life pretty easy by printing out the notes, going through them with us and then letting us fill in the learning outcomes.
But I have to admit, this self-oriented learning has taught me a lot about how to approach learning, although it took a while to get used to it, I have to admit.
The ContentThe content spanned a lot - and I really enjoyed what we did. It was really interesting, the book was pretty good (from what I can tell) and I think I have retained quite a bit.
All in AllAll in all I'm really glad I took the course. We'd touched on most of the stuff in Germany already, so I had something like a base of knowledge, which made learning the new stuff relatively easy.
Without the final exam (as I don't know the score there yet) I had the highest mark in my class and the second highest in all three of his - so I really can't complain.
The TeacherHands down my favourite person here (aside from my host family of course) and the best teacher I've ever had. Seriously.
So, anyway, he's probably in his mid to late thirties, two children, lived in Japan and Bolivia, taught some time in India, has a Master in Creative Writing and is generally pretty awesome. You can talk to him about almost anything, and he actually listens to students, which is something I'm pretty sensitive to - like, I usually know when a person is nodding off or when they're actually paying attention.
The Teaching StyleHe never raises his voice. He goes around and talks to the individual students, and after some time they quiet down automatically. The atmosphere in the class room is built on mutual respect, which is pretty awesome.
His teaching style was more like giving a topic/thing to work on and then walk around and help individual students. I don't think we did actual "Frontalunterricht" once (leo.org says it's ex-cathedra teaching... Never heard that before), and we watched a couple of movies - but as opposed to Japanese, we actually worked with them. We read "Of Mice and Men" and then watched "Of Mice and Men" and "The Green Mile" and had to compare them in written form. Another thing we watched was "Shawshank Redemption" where we also had to write something about. But that was more about ideas and underlying stuff in the movie.
His teaching was diverse but not confusing, which I really appreciated.
And of course, it always helps if you like the teacher ;)
The ContentEnglish might just be the course that has taught me the most.
It has forced me to think about how I see the world, how I interpret stuff, which are skills/insights you don't usually learn in school (and which you can't actually learn, it's more like stumble over it on accident by yourself).
The 'tangible' things I learnt include Interpreting a Text, Finding Symbolism, Selling Somebody What You Think Is Happening In the Text, Writing a Paragraph, Writing an Essay and Comparing Texts And/Or Movies.
All in AllAll in all I'm unbelievably glad I was upgraded from ESL 10, which I had initially chosen.
This course, and the teacher, has been the best so far, and I don't think anything can top this - except maybe Creative Writing, taught by Mr Derksen.
It has given me confidence in my own skills, and somebody to talk to whenever I have problems.
The TeacherOur teacher is of Italian roots, and I think he still speaks Italian. But at the beginning especially it was nice to have somebody who could at least understand a bit how I was feeling.
I can't say so much about him as a teacher, though, because Journalism is just me writing by myself and running it by him and then correcting any mistakes I might have had.
All in AllAll in all I'm kinda glad I didn't take that course inside the timetable. Spanish was a better investment of my time, I think, even though it would have been neat to learn how to use PageMaker and PhotoShop a bit more indepth :)
So yeah, that was my first Semester :)
I hope you enjoyed reading this at least a bit; a lot of work went into it!
Any questions, just leave a comment and I'll update it - and I'll also link to it from my about me beginning site! :D
Take care, guys,