Sorry for the lack of updates! I've been meaning to write in here for some time, but I've actually been pretty busy this summer. If any other ALT's* read this blog, they probably will find that statement unbelievable.
During summer vacation, there are of course no classes. However, all teachers are still expected to go to work. ALT's, typically, are no exception. (That's all ESID** though. There are some ALT's that get summer vacation off.) Because there are no classes, there's usually very little or nothing to do. However, in my situation, my awesome supervisor found me plenty of things to do.
I've been visiting kindergartens in town and giving short English lessons. It's mostly just teaching them a few English songs then reading some children stories in English. They understand VERY little, but they still really enjoy it.
We've also been doing some lessons on team teaching to elementary school teachers. If you're not aware of this situation, I'll fill you in: The Japanese government recently decided that English must be taught in all elementary schools in Japan to 5th and 6th graders. It has to be taught once a week for one hour. The bad news about this is that English now has to be taught by the homeroom teacher. Most of the elementary school teachers speak little to no English. If that wasn't bad enough for them, the teachers are also forced to team teach with an ALT. Many ALT's speak little to no Japanese. You really have to sympathize for these teachers. But...shoganai***. So my supervisor has set up classes for these teachers. We give them tips on how to teach English to elementary students and how to work with an ALT. Hopefully the teachers are finding it helpful!
We also recently had a new ALT arrive in our town! We've spent a lot of time helping him adjust to his new life here.
There have been other fun going-ons as well. One day all of us ALT's in town got invited to participate in a rafting race. The race is held every year by one of the junior high schools in my town. (It's not a school I work at though.) The school is really small, and has only 40 students total. What made this race interesting was that the kids all built their own rafts. They used bamboo, wooden boards, and giant pieces of foam. I was actually quite impressed with how well they worked. The teachers handed us little plastic paddles and put us on one of the teams. We had to race out to a small island out in the middle of the sea. When I say small island, it was more like some large rocks sticking out of the water.
My team ended up winning the race! It was very close though. There was a tie, and my team won by Janken (rock, paper, scissors).
After the race, we hung out with the students for a while. We had lunch with them, and they made a special vegetarian yakisoba for me. After that, we participated in a very "interesting" Japanese tradition. I can't remember the name of it, but it's kind of like pinata. Except the pinata was a watermelon. We were given long plastic sticks rather than something more sturdy like a bat. When we asked why not something stronger, My supervisor explained, "But then there wouldn't be any watermelon to eat." OK, guess that makes sense. So they spun each of us around, then the kids tried to direct us (in English actually!) towards the watermelon. After it got smashed up really good, we ate it. This watermelon probably cost around 2000 yen ($20).
We also had the town's annual summer festival: the Teya Teya festival. The festival has a big parade, and many people in the town dance in it. I got to dance with my students in the festival. The only downside with me actually participating in this festival is that I have no pictures or videos to share. Shoganai :(. Hopefully next time!
That's about it. So to those I promised postcards to: they will come eventually! I didn't expect to actually be busy this summer. I thought I'd have nothing but free time at work, and I'd be bored out of my mind. I'm pretty glad I was wrong about that!
*ALT = Assistant Language Teacher, my job title
**ESID = "Every Situation is Different." If you have any interest in the JET program, this is a phrase you will hear quite frequently.
***Shoganai - Japanese word meaning, "nothing can be done" or "it can't be helped." We use it a lot here in Japan