Cafetalk Featured Tutor Interview

Keiko Davy

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English Japanese Junior High

Keiko Davy Tutor Interview

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Q. Hello Keiko! First, would you briefly introduce yourself?

A. Hello! Nice to meet you. I am Keiko Davy. I have been teaching Japanese and English in Cafetalk since October 2017. In 2000, I left Japan, and I currently live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with my husband. When I was in Japan, I worked as an English teacher, and when I was in Australia, I worked as a Japanese teacher. I think teaching is my vocation, and this job helps me enjoy working and living abroad.

Q. Could you tell us about your hometown? What was it like when you grew up?

A. I was born in Niigata Prefecture, where is famous for producing high-quality rice, fish, and sake. But, my family and I moved to Nagano Prefecture when I was little, so I feel attached to Nagano too. It has been a while since I left Japan, but memories of my hometowns sometimes make me miss good Japanese food, eating fresh fish, watching the snowfall, and playing winter sports. When I was back in Japan, I enjoyed visiting hot springs and eating out. I especially enjoyed eating soba noodles, which is famous in Nagano.

Q. In your 17 years of living aboroad, which country was most memorable to you? Was there any special experience that sticked to your mind?

A. Well, talking about Australia and Malaysia, they have a diverse population, and living in such culturally and ethnically diverse society have changed my views in many ways. For example, I learned how we from different cultural backgrounds have to be tolerant to each other in this diverse community. Also, I was fascinated by seeing how English as a common language connects people from different parts of the world. So, those experiences have shaped who I am today both as a tutor and as an individual. My husband and I love traveling, so we hope to keep visiting many countries and enjoy learning about their culture and food.

Q. How do you spend your time outside of your teaching? Do you have any hobbies?

A. In my free time, I enjoy walking around and taking pictures of my town. Once every week, I make myself visit a new place where I have never been before, including a new restaurant and a cafe. I like playing sports, so I often go on a hike, practice yoga, play tennis, ride on a bike, and go scuba diving. Besides, my love for cooking makes me spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I am also interested in learning health and spiritual things, so I often spend my time reading books about those topics and trying out what I learned. I recently tried a new exercise and using essential oil. When I have a good chunk of time, I do volunteer works at schools where children of Myanmar refugees study.

Q. What have led you become interested in teaching?

A. Since I was little, I have always enjoyed teaching something to people around me, and people as well told me I was good at teaching. So, those experiences have influenced me, I think. Speaking in my foreign language allows me to communicate with people from outside of my ethnic group, and it fascinates me. Such small moments of excitement have led me to keep studying English until today. As a language teacher, this moment of excitement is what I hope for my students to experience and enjoy as much as I do.

Q. Do you have any study methods and tips that you recommend to your students?

A. If you are living in Japan, you would hardly have a chance to interact with native English speakers. Therefore, especially to those intermediate and above students, I recommend watching any favorite movies in English with English subtitles over and over again. Also, singing English songs along with checking lyrics is also effective in English learning. In addition, many people can keep themselves motivated to study something they feel passionate about, so learning such topics in English will automatically lead students’ English to improve. In my case, I studied a therapy called holistic kinesiology for three years in college while I was teaching in Australia. I learned everything in English, and it was definitely hard for me to understand my courses, such as Traditional Chinese medicine, Human Anatomy, and Psychology, but I could keep studying because I was passionate about the subjects taught. In addition, since I had to apply what I learned in those courses right away to my therapy practice, I could remember terms and vocabularies quickly. If you can find a situation where you apply your newly acquired knowledge of English, you would remember it quickly.

Q. How do you teach your lessons?

A. I put an effort to make my students feel safe during the lessons. They should feel safe to ask any questions anytime when they are practicing English conversation, so I teach in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. When I teach English to elementary and middle school students, I always try to teach at a good tempo and to adjust my lesson plans to each student's needs and levels. Nobody can avoid making mistakes when learning a new language, so I support any language learners who are not afraid of making mistakes and asking questions. If my students tell me they are feeling safe to ask or make mistakes in front of me, that would be my best compliment to receive.

Q. Are your lessons all taught in English? Can your students use Japanese from time to time?

A. I try to use only English throughout my lessons, but depending on each student's level of understanding, I occasionally explain things in Japanese. It is much better for students to understand the content of what I teach than focusing on which language they are hearing. For the same reason, I would appreciate my students for asking me questions even in Japanese when they feel impossible to ask in English. Even when I explained something in English, I often send my student supplemental explanations in Japanese after the lesson.

Q. Before closing this interview, do you have any message to your current and future students?

A. When was the first time you started learning English outside of your classroom? For me, it was when I got a Finnish pen pal when I was 14 or 15 years old. She and I met for the first time in Japan when I was in the first year of college, but surprisingly, we met again in 2018, after more than 20 years since the first time we met!! Human connections and friendships are so fascinating and precious, are not they? Language is what lead us to connect with each other regardless of our differences in cultural backgrounds and the places we live on earth.

There are 20 billion English speakers in the world, and among them, only 4 billion people are native speakers. That means the rest of 16 billion people learned English as their foreign language. I travel through the world and have talked to many people across the countries to understand different cultures. How about you? What motivates you to study English and other languages?

In my experience of living and visiting many countries, I realized that I have my own way of speaking English, and that can also be said to many other people. You cannot cut out communicating with people who speak English differently from you. You will be faced with the situation where you have to communicate with Engish speakers who may not be natives but fluent in English. So, I would like to tell Engish learners, “Be confident in your own English!” You will become able to communicate with anyone who speaks English someday. Get confidence in your English learning and be brave to communicate with many people across the world to broaden your mind.

To my students who take my lessons regularly, thank you very much! I am grateful that you have chosen me as your language teacher among the long list of tutors. We may have something in common, or my teaching style matches your learning style. In any case, it has been my pleasure to work with you, and I hope to continue supporting you as your tutor. Talking about my lesson review document that I send to my students after each lesson, I provide a list of what they have accomplished and what they can work on to improve their skills alongside my advice. I hope this review document works to my students. I feel delighted when I see my students getting excited about the improvement they made in their language study, and I hope to keep supporting them as much as I can.

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Keiko Davy


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