Ms Motoko Watanabe

Life before Girton
I was born and educated in Japan before attending Melbourne University as an exchange student.  I did a Graduate Diploma of Education there after completing my exchange year.  I came to Australia to improve my English so that I could become an English teacher in Japan, but instead I became a Japanese teacher in Australia!  I have been teaching at Girton since I was offered a job as a graduate teacher.  My life would have been very different if I didn’t take up my job here at Girton.

What I Love about Teaching
What I love about teaching and Girton are my students and also getting to know their families.  Teaching is a fantastic job where you can interact with young people and have a positive impact on their lives.  At the same time, you can learn so much from young people.  I love talking to my students and learning about their interests and lives.  I also enjoy working with my colleagues in the LOTE Department and Millward House.

What do you like best about the subject/s you teach?
I am from Japan, so I find it very rewarding to introduce the language and culture of my own country to young Australians.  I was studying to become a diplomat before changing my mind to become a teacher.  What remains the same is my wish to make positive contributions to international and cross-cultural relationships.  I would like to think that my work as a Japanese language teacher does make a positive contribution in this regard.  Learning another language opens up a lot of opportunities for you, it broadens your horizons and enables you to see situations from more than one perspective.  In an increasingly globalised world these qualities and abilities are ever more important.

My favourite classroom activity
I have learnt that most Australian students enjoy role-play performances, whereas Japanese students who are learning English tend to be very shy in this area.  Most students here enjoy speaking Japanese but I tend to incorporate classroom activities which improve/practise all the four language skill areas – speaking, listening, reading & writing.  I also like having discussions on the differences/similarities between Australia and Japan (languages and culture).  I love it when students can also learn more about their own language, culture and identity by contrasting it with other languages and cultures.

What difference can good teaching make?
A good teacher can have a positive impact on the life of students and get the best out of each student.  (I was fortunate enough to have those fantastic teachers throughout my schooling.)  I am very patient and I believe that patience is a key attribute required to learn another language and to work with teenagers.  It takes time to master another language but it is possible!  Having a sense of humour, fun and not being afraid of making mistakes are also important as you are sure to make mistakes when learning another language.  It helps if you can laugh at your own mistakes.  I always mix up ‘fridge’ and ‘bridge’ in English, which makes me laugh.

Other Hats
I am a proud team manager of Girton Kings basketball team (Under 16 Boys’ team). I knew little about basketball when I first joined the basketball co-curricular activity but I have learnt a great deal from my students.  I have been managed many different teams over the years now and I love watching them play.  The boys’ passion for basketball is contagious!  I also love watching my two daughters playing soccer.