2019/2020 J-LEAP REPORT

BY HirokO Ikeda

North Salinas High School
Salinas, CA

The first impression about my destination, California
When I was informed of my destination in the US on the first day of training in Saitama, I was excited in anticipation. Because, as you know, speaking of California, the state is well known as a famous tourist destination. But what do you think about real life in California? I'd like to introduce you to my life and activities.

Characteristics of North Salinas High School
North Salinas High School where I work as an assistant Japanese language teacher is an hour and a half by car from San Jose. It has a mild climate and close to the seaside. In addition, there are many hispanic people here. I speak Spanish better that English and that skill is very helpful for me to communicate with student or parents.

We have 134 students in total and there are levels 1, 3 and Advanced class. In addition, another teacher has a level 2 class. The students have to study Spanish, French or Japanese for at least two years. There are five high schools that are teaching Japanese in the Salinas school district including our high school. The total enrollment for Japanese class is on the rise from 2013 until now. Our students learn Japanese culture more deeply through karaoke contest, speech contest and school trips to Japan.

I'm really enjoying my Japanese class on the one other hand, but I was shocked when I found out that there are some student who can't read an analog clock or spell words in English correctly. Under the education and wealth gap, why do students study Japanese?

They wrote during the first three days of the Japanese class on a motivational poster; "why do I study Japanese?". They wrote their dream of the future like being a teacher, translater or studying Japanese in Japan, etc. It's not important for me if they continue to study Japanese, but I hope they can expand their world view and get many choices through studying Japanese.

My goal of J-LEAP
There are many wonderful Japanese language teachers who have a lot of experience in Salinas. I felt pressure and I didn't have any ideas on how I can collaborate before coming here. However, I wanted to provide anything that I can do help out. Specifically, I want to help students recognize and memorize Japanese letters (Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji), carry out cultural activities and to connect Japanese class to student's parents who speak only Spanish. It's not so easy to resolve but by trying, I believe that this great experience will take me to next step of my life.

Last but not least, I really appreciate all the people, especially my lead teacher who helped me adjust to my new life here and encouraged me to do more.