A couple of months ago, I invited one of my students to meet me, my son and his wife at the new cake shop near my school. It is a very nice and stylish place called “Ca Sent Bon” which I am told means “It smells good!” in French. I often stop ask the girls working there if it really “smells good” and they laugh every time.
My student met me, my son and his wife in front of the shop. We went inside and took the stairs to the second floor where we were seated at a nice table and sat down to talk. My son started by introducing himself and his wife to my student and she introduced herself. Then she said that this was the first time in her life to be eating in Japan and outnumbered by non-Japanese people. She said that it was a great experience. After talking for a while, she relaxed a little and we enjoyed some delicious cake, coffee and tea. She told me later that she had a really nice time and that my son and his wife, who is French, were so cool and kind. She thanked me for the experience to use English in a setting in which she felt like she was not in Japan. She felt like she was overseas. I was very happy that she felt this way and that I could give her that opportunity.
Experiences like this can be inspirational and really bring home the point that we are not just English teachers here in Japan but also cultural guides. We can help our students to get experience talking and doing fun activities with foreigners and other Japanese who want to practice their English. It is always rewarding to know that even these little things we do really benefits our students.
Al Bartle (Smith’s School of English – Okamoto)