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This article is taken from "kids com" Magazine - for more articles, see the "advice" page! 

It's Summer Time!

 I love the Japanese summer! It's so warm and sunny, the weather is gorgeous! People walk around all day saying "It's so hot!", and I say "Yeah, isn't it great!". People think I'm strange for saying that. But honestly, most English people would pay a fortune to have a summer like this (and many of them do!)

 Just like the English school year, July also brings about the end of the JET year. After 1, 2 or 3 years in Japan many JETs travel back home, enriched from their experience in Japan. So that's a great excuse to have a goodbye party! Last year my schools organised special afternoons where the kids played games, sang songs and showed me how much they had enjoyed their lessons. There wasn't a dry eye left in the place! Just one word of warning, over the time in Japan we accumulate a lot of things, and taking everything home with a baggage allowance of 20 kg is pretty difficult! Many friends of mine were given lots of gifts by their students, but were heartbroken that they couldn't carry them home! So if you want to give a leaving gift to an ALT, what about a book with pictures and drawings showing what they did at the school? Or what about making a cassette tape where the kids can record messages to the ALT? These things are small and can be kept forever!

 If you are getting a new ALT (or if your ALT is going home for the summer), now is a great time to ask them to bring some things for home to use in their lessons. Small things are best, things like coins, pictures and especially stamps are great! I brought 200 one pence stamps to give out to the kids. They all had the head of the Queen on, and best of all, only cost 2 yen each!

 Then it is the Summer holiday!!! Yeaaaahhh!!! Quite a lot of ALTs are very lucky and get the summer free, many of them travel or go home. But as most Elementary School ALTs are based not in high schools, but in the local Board of Education, they have to sit there at their desk being very bored!

 Most of them would be very grateful if you could think of a way to get them out! One thing ALTs can do in summer is to visit kindergartens. As is almost universally acknowledged in other countries (but strangely not in Japan!), the younger children learn a language, the better! In kindergarten, ALTs play English games, sing songs and get the kids introduced to all sorts of new things. But I tell you, being in kindergarten was the most tiring thing I did in Japan; a few hours a day is more than enough!!!

 Other ideas could be helping ALTs prepare new materials for next year, planning the schedule or learning some new teaching skills. When I first arrived I had no experience of teaching English, but the teachers in my local education office got together with the renewing ALTs and held a training seminar. They went through lots of great ideas, and I was all prepared to start teaching in September! Of course, if local kids are going abroad for the summer or if you want extra English lessons yourself, ask your ALT to prepare something! And if there are any staff trips, I'm sure they'd love to go.

 But it's not all work you know! Invite the ALT out in the evenings or weekends. Going fishing, having BBQs or going to Beer Gardens with friends and teachers was great!

 So enjoy your summer,


Be genki,

Richard




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