Once a month I visit a deaf school, called Okayama Ro Gakko, tucked away in the northern hills of Okayama-shi. What's it like teaching English to Japanese kids who can't hear? Well I wouldn't call this teaching in any formal sense. Since I only visit once every 4 weeks I stick to introducing the students to American and Western culture through games and other fun activities. Recently, these have centered around the American holidays in October, November, and December.

I communicate with the kids mostly via a Japanese teacher who translates my English into Japanese sign language. The students know a few phrases in English, such as greetings and how to talk about the date and the weather, but other than that they communicate entirely in Japanese sign language. They are taught how to speak in English, but deafness makes any clear pronunciation virtually impossible. The better their hearing, the better their speaking.

So, I try to introduce them to American customs and activities, while giving them a smattering of English words and phrases associated with the topic. They get pretty excited about the things we do in class, and are always trying to talk with me during lunch and between classes. Sadly, I can rarely understand them, making getting to know them difficult.

These pictures are of my Junior high classes at Rogakko. I also teach two Senior high classes, but I guess they've decided that they are too mature to take pictures with their token foreigner. They are also less participatory in the lessons, but they understand English a bit better.

It's a fun break from my normal classes at the other two schools, and I wish I could visit it more often. In a few months there will surely be more pictures here of my xmas lesson, et al.

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