Ms Liz Blanks


BLANKS LizLife before Girton

After finishing Year 12 at the then Girton College, I completed a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne, majoring in Japanese and Geography, but also dabbling in Modern Greek, International Relations and Middle Eastern Politics. I spent a year teaching English in Japan and lived with a Japanese family for 6 months. I then completed a Graduate Diploma in Australian Studies (Tourism Japanese) at Monash University, before moving to Western Australia to work as a Japanese speaking Tour Guide in Perth. After working in various tourism jobs in Perth and Monkey Mia, I decided to retrain as a teacher at the University of Western Australia. Since then I have taught subjects such as Japanese, Geography, Work Studies/Careers and Society and Environment at Tom Price, Cloncurry (QLD), Perth and Bendigo in both primary and secondary schools.

What I Love about Teaching

The two things I most enjoy about teaching are:

  • Seeing the joy on students’ faces when they finally are able to say a particularly difficult Japanese sentence,
  • Being given the opportunity to work with young people and share their sense of humour and energy.

The best thing about teaching at Girton Grammar is that it is a school where it is “cool” to learn. This means that far less time is spent managing student behaviour and students can learn in far greater depth.

What do you like best about the subject/s you teach?

Learning a second language is like opening another section of your brain, both in terms of the language itself, but also in terms of the cultural insights that can be gained. It is very important that second languages are learned as early in life as possible, as it is very difficult to learn a language well after 12-13 years of age. Girton Grammar students are very fortunate that they can start learning two languages from Preparatory right through to Year 12!

Japanese is obviously immediately useful in daily life, because so many Japanese products and foods are consumed by us in Australia. Japanese can be used at eateries or Japanese retailers or by visiting the numerous Japanese festivals held in Melbourne each year. At Girton Grammar, students are regularly able to use their Japanese because of our unique relationship with Gojo High School in Japan. There are many Japanese anime movies and TV series where understanding is greatly enhanced if you can understand Japanese.

My favourite classroom activity

Students seem to most enjoy Japanese when they have the opportunity to use Japanese in a game, such as Pacman or Speed Jikoshoukai Relay. Games allow students to practise Japanese in a fun, non-threatening environment. Even errors can be funny when in a game situation.

What difference can good teaching make?

Successful students of Japanese are those that are willing to have a go at all activities and also those that are willing to dedicate a few minutes each day to practising their Japanese writing and character recognition.

I hope that my students benefit from the experience of having a non-native Japanese speaker as their teacher. I understand the struggles and enjoyment of learning Japanese first hand. I also think it is beneficial to my students that I have worked outside of teaching, and understand the realities of workplace expectations on young people and what employers are looking for.

Other Hats

Outside of work I am a busy mum for my three children and I try to keep my self-employed husband organised too! I enjoy bushwalking, DIY, get-togethers with family and friends, reading, shopping (especially at Japanese shops in Melbourne), keeping fit and tent camping