Saori.Y Tutor Interview
- Q. Hi Saori! First, would you introduce yourself briefly?
A. Hello! I am a Japanese tutor, Saori. I left my home country, Japan in 2011, and now I live in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Almost four years have passed since I first started teaching Japanese. As a Cafetalk tutor, I have been teaching on this platform since October 2017. I love and truly enjoy my teaching job.
- Q. Could you tell us about your hometown? What was it like when you grew up?
A. I was born and grew up in Nagoya city, Aichi Prefecture. It is a good city to live in. These days, a local dish called Nagoya-Meshi has become famous. There are a lot of delicious food in Nagoya, so you should visit my hometown when you have a chance!
- Q. How is your life in Vietnam?
A. I currently live in Ho Chi Minh City, which I think is a really interesting place because I see the coexistence of Aisan culture and Euripean style architecture. This is a vibrant city, and I feel energetic every time I go out.
- Q. Are there any other countries you have lived before?
A. Other than Japan and Vietnam, I lived in Bangkok, Thailand for 5 years. I got my first experience of living abroad in Bangkok, so I recognize that city as my second hometown. People in Bangkok were so nice, and I made so many good friends there. Since then, Thailand has become one of my most favorite countries on earth.
- Q. How did you become interested in teaching Japanese?
A. When I found out that I was going to move to Bangkok, I tried to find a job which I can enjoy by helping others. Teaching Japanese was one of those options. I like Japanese culture and the intricacy of this language, so I guess it was natural for me to start thinking about sharing my knowledge and experiences with people abroad. Although anyone can teach his or her native languages without having any certificates, I wanted to acquire one in order to become better at teaching Japanese. That was why I studied and passed the Japanese Language Teaching Competency Test before I started teaching private Japanese lessons in Bangkok. Cafetalk broadened my opportunity to meet many people from different countries, and I really have been enjoying my teaching life.
- Q. How do you spend your time outside of your teaching? Do you have any hobbies and favorite things to do?
A. I like spending my time just by being relaxed. I often make accessories or play with my cats at home in my free time. Watching videos of animals is also something I enjoy. I love animals. I like practicing yoga too. Even though I like spending my days inside, I also like working out at a gym and going on travel. This year, I took several trips to Taiwan. I enjoy watching movies and TV shows as well. Let me know if you have any recommendations!
- Q. It seems that you study many foreign languages. Would you say that your learning experience gives any influence on your teaching?
A. Yes, definitely! My language learning experience helps me a lot. I have learned English, French, Thai, Vietnamese, and a little bit of Korean before. (Well, I forgot most of my French because I rarely have a chance to used it, unfortunately.) When I was in school, I took English and French, but I never had a chance to practice the conversation. And what was worse, I was afraid of making mistakes. Therefore, I understand the feeling of my students who understand what their foreign language speakers say but do not know how to reply.
Once I moved abroad and started speaking my Thai and English on a daily basis, my language skills quickly got better. Practicing the output is equally important to studying grammar when you learn a new language. Most importantly, I learned that making mistakes is not a problem when you are communicating with people. Even when people speak their own languages, they make mistakes! Many of the students I currently teach are from the Chinese speaking regions, so I started learning Chinese as well... It is difficult for me to get the tones right! I know it is hard to learn any language, but when you could communicate with others using your foreign language, that feeling of satisfaction and joy are indescribable.
Just like my students, I am also a learner of foreign languages. I know the struggle! This is hard, but fun at the same time. Let us get improved step by step!
- Q. Do you have any recommended study methods and tips to your students?
A. Practicing a lot of listening and speaking would be what I most recommend. However, if you do not have any change to have a conversation in your learning language, watching a TV show or a movie and shadowing the lines also works well. You can practice this in a similar way by listening to the songs. I would recommend to connect your language practice to what you are interested in. The more you enjoy the content of your learning, the quicker you will remember it.
- Q. To those who may be interested in your lessons, would you tell us how you teach?
A. I am quite easygoing, so I teach my lessons in a relaxed atmosphere. I am not strict at all. I try to make my students feel safe to ask questions and talk about anything they want to tell me about because I enjoy listening to my students and learning about their opinions and cultures during our lessons.
- Q. Your free conversation lesson with feedback seems popular among your students. Do you think of any reasons?
A. I try to be open and listen with my whole heart to find what my students are passionate about. That attitude of mine could be one reason. Each of my students has different terms and expressions which he or she may wish to learn. For example, when I am talking with a student who works as a doctor, I use as many medical terminologies as I can because he or she may actually use those words in daily life. In my feedback after each conversation lesson, I make a list of phrases and expressions, which the student can use in real-life situations, based on what we talked during the lesson. Making such feedback documents also helps me become better at teaching.
- Q. What other lessons of you do you recommend to the Cafetalk students?
A. I would recommend my JLPT preparation lessons. Beside learning grammars and expressions with using the textbooks, students can prepare for the listening section. Also, my "Article Reading in Japanese" lesson is also recoomendable. Students can choose any articles by themselves, and they can select a novel or a literature if they would like to. I would say this lesson is highly frexible and students themselve can easily customize this lesson to meet their need. I am currently thinking of start teaching a new lesson, in which a student and I choose one scene from a TV show or from a movie and learn expressions used in the scene. So, if you think this is a good idea, feel free to send me an message!
- Q. Before closing this interview, do you have any message to your current and future students?
A. To my regular students, thank you as always!! I learn a lot from you, and listening to your stories broadens my mind. Thank you for making our lessons enjoyable, and I will continue making my effort to help you improve your Japanese!!
To my prospective students, do not hesitate to try out any of my trials and 20-minute free conversation lessons. We can find the best way for you to learn Japanese while having a fun conversation. You will find the best lesson plan tailored to your needs!
I am looking forward to meeting you!