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ジェフリー・A・クロフト先生のコラム [1998年-現在] フリーランス・社内翻訳者
学術文献・研究論文・技術機関紙等の翻訳、契約書等の法律文書の翻訳、説明書・規格書等の技術文書の翻訳、手紙・通信文・企業案内・広告・ホームページ等の翻訳に精通。
[2001年-2002年] フリーランス通訳者
日英・英日同時または逐次通訳(主な顧客:富士通, ソニー, TBS等)
[学歴] 学士号:カリフォルニア大学、バークレー校 修士号:モントレー国際大学

第10回:『A reflection on active approaches and learner differences―teaching Japanese with the direct method』

I am reflecting today on my findings from a teaching activity in one of my graduate school classes. The explicit goal of the teaching activity was to provide the opportunity to plan and teach a twenty-minute lesson, to receive feedback from the professor and the class, and to review and reflect on (in writing) a video recording of the lesson. We were required to select a skill area, identify the target population, plan the lesson, prepare the lesson, gather any necessary materials, and inform our peers what role they were to assume as learners from the given population.

I chose speaking as the skill, with true beginners in studying Japanese as the target population. The fifteen learners were all adults, whose native languages were English, Arabic, Korean, and Armenian. Meta-goals of my lesson included giving a demonstration and introduction of the direct method, giving an introduction to the Japanese language, and providing the opportunity for learners to practice the new phrases they encountered immediately. Learning objectives were that learners would be able to: Produce simple phrases that had been introduced and practiced, using simple classroom objects as examples.

The Direct Method, as I taught it, involved introducing simple phrases orally, performing choral drills with these phrases, then modeling and asking questions using these phrases (translated into English here): (1) This is a book (2) Is this a book? (3) Is this a book or a magazine? (4) What is this?

By watching the video of the lesson, by reading peer feedback, and most of all, during the lesson, I felt that I had clearly made one mistake: I had not practiced adequately before the lesson. I like to have a spontaneous atmosphere in the classroom, and I had used this method to teach this introductory unit many times. But, I see now, I would have benefited from more practice before the lesson this time. Time was not a critical limit when I taught full-time using this method, as a bell let me know when there was a five-minute break at the end of a forty-minute lesson. But pacing and logical, thorough progression are important in this method. Particularly in the first lessons, as learners are getting familiar with the mechanics of the method just as much as they may be getting familiar with their first sounds and words in the target language. It is always a busy introduction to this method, even for false beginners, and, for that matter, for prospective teachers in training, in their L1. Thus, I was reminded of the simple value of warming up properly.

I learned quite a bit from the written and oral feedback that I received from my professor and my peers, as well as from watching myself on the video recording. The limitations of this method with larger groups were particularly apparent on the video?as I engaged one or two learners in the introduction and practice of a particular phrase, learners away from the action seemed to lose focus. I suppose the ideal group size for this type of lesson would be from one to four learners. Judging from the oral responses that I heard, and from the written feedback from the learners, the learning objectives were partially met: Most of the learners learned the simple phrases for the day. A few learners, however, did not seem comfortable.

In fact, the single most pronounced lesson that I learned through this experience was the importance of individual differences among language learners. As I mentioned above, some learners felt that this method was active and useful while others felt that it was not appropriate for visually oriented learners. Variety and balance in presentation, methods, techniques, and tools in the classroom are optimal. I would teach using this method again, provided that the learners felt comfortable, and that learning objectives were met.

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