Rebeka Porter: ALT (assistant language teacher for English)
What’s challenging/interesting/rewarding about my current job?
- The most challenging thing, that’s slowly becoming better, is communicating with my coworkers. I’m very lucky at my JHS that there are so many fluent English speakers. However, there’s still a language barrier where we have to take time to make sure we properly understand each other. At my elementary school, there’s about two teachers that can understand very very basic English so I mainly use what little Japanese I know and broken English to communicate. It was very difficult in the beginning because my Japanese was next to nonexistent and it was hard to understand basic Japanese. Now, after about seven months of living and working in Japan, my Japanese has improved just enough to where I can understand the gist of a conversation if I know what’s trying to be conveyed. It makes for an interesting conversation and is a good learning experience. The most rewarding thing about my job is seeing my students grow and become more comfortable speaking English. Despite the language barrier, I’ve been able to build relationships with students and show them that English can be fun and interesting.
How do I use various communication proficiencies in my work?
- Public speaking is perhaps the one communication skill I use the most. I used to get super nervous when I was younger speaking in front of a crowd. It doesn’t bother me now. I always have to be aware of how I word things and how fast I speak based on what my job requires of me. Gestures are also important in helping me convey what I’m saying to my students and teachers. Reading nonverbal signs and gestures has also helped me in understanding what my students and teachers are trying to tell me. I also rely on time management and organization, especially for my elementary school. I’m the main teacher at my elementary school. It means that while the home room teacher is there and still in charge, I run the actual flow of the lesson and do most of the prep work. It’s important to make sure I have all the materials I need and know how to use time during my lessons.
What surprised me about my career?
- I never expected to love my job as much as I do. I had no idea that I would form such a strong connection to this job and Japan. One of the things I was worried about before starting was being able to communicate with my students and build a relationship with them. I wasn’t sure how to go about it with the language barrier. I was happy to find out that it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was. While the language barrier exists, it doesn’t hinder communication. You just have to find ways to overcome it and make communicating fun and interesting.
Here’s my number one piece of advice for Communication undergrads:
- Chase your dreams and do what makes you happy. When I first started college I wanted to be a journalist but switched my major during my sophomore year to PR. Now I’m a teacher in Japan. Your dreams and goals in life will constantly change and that’s okay. Do what makes you happy. No dream is too big or too small.
Class year: 2017
Previous jobs since graduation: Deli Clerk at Schnucks