2019 J-LEAP Report: Miyuki Nakamura


BY Miyuki Nakamura

Kamehameha Schools Maui Campus
Pukalani, HI

Aloha, my name is Miyuki Nakamura. Now I am currently working as an Assistant Teacher at Kamehameha High School in Maui, Hawaii.

A lot of Japanese people like Hawaii and have been to Hawaii (especially Oahu). Maui is the second largest island in Hawaii. There is a lot of wonderful nature and cheerful people. Also, there are many luxury hotels near the beautiful beaches, also known as tourist spots. It’s warm, so we can live without a jacket all year.


About Kamehameha schools Maui

In Hawaii, there are three Kamehameha campuses: Maui, Oahu and Hawaii island.

Students cannot enroll without Hawaiian heritage. Kamehameha Schools respects Hawaiian traditions. For example, students have to take Hawaiian language and culture classes. Teachers also have the opportunity to participate in a Hawaiian language lesson once per month. Additionally, students chant “Oli” every Monday morning. (This “Oli” is to ask teachers for permission to come into class.) Kamehameha Maui is located on a mountain, so we can see an amazing view from the school. The school is from preschool to high school and has approximately one hundred students in each grade. There are three language classes taught at Kamehameha Maui: Japanese, Spanish and Hawaiian. And there are three levels of Japanese classes. Japanese 1 has eleven students, Japanese 2 has twelve students, Japanese 3/4 has eight students. The classes are small, but I have time to communicate with and get to know all the students well.


About my daily life

Every day, I arrive to school at 7:30. Students come to school at 8:15. Classes start at 8:45, and each class is 70 minutes long. Every day, I have three levels of Japanese classes and one period for preparation. And we have very long lunch time! 80 minutes! During lunch time, many students come to my class, and students teach me English and ask me about Japanese language and anime and manga. During this time, I can also communicate with students who don’t take Japanese class. The last class finishes at 3:00, but teachers have to stay in the classroom until 3:30 to provide extra help to students and/or answer their questions. After 3:30, I have free time. Usually I prepare for next day’s lesson with my LT until around 4:30, and after that, I exercise with students and other teachers until 6:00. My host mother is a Kamehameha teacher too. After working out, we go back home and eat dinner together. Every night we talk about what we did that day. My host mother is such a kind person, and she always takes care of me. Fianlly around 10 pm, I go to bed.

About relationship with LT

I teach Japanese with my LT, Andy Scott-sensei. He is very interesting and creative and really loves teaching Japanese to students. Scott-sensei and I work together for over 8 hours every day. So, I think the relationship between LT and AT is very important. Our team has a good relationship so far, especially as we try to say our own opinions without hiding them. The first day I told him my concern that I didn’t have experience being a Japanese language teacher. But he said to me,” Don’t worry about it, I can teach Japanese; if you can’t teach Japanese well right now, it isn’t a big problem because I can help you. But I’m not native Japanese, you are. You can help me.” I was really helped by these words. I realized that we can help each other. He treats me as a CO-teacher, not an assistant teacher. So, if I have any concern or any opinion (what I want to do in the class and so on), I tell him everything. He takes my opinion seriously every time. I’m very happy that in my first year as a Japanese language teacher, I have an opportunity to work with him.


About my role in class

Scott-sensei and I usually teach together, but I have regular tasks that I handle. For example, I usually lead Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana practice activities, teach Japanese culture and talk about my experiences. I can use very authentic materials such as my pictures, Japanese songs and Japanese TV shows, etc. Personal stories and pictures seem to be very interesting to students. When I talk about the Japanese culture, I try to talk in general terms and then present my experience. The language I use in class is over 95% Japanese. (Fortunately, I can’t speak English well, so it’s so easy for me.) Recently, students began to imitate my sayings. Even if I don’t teach the meaning of the word, students seem to understand it naturally and how to use it while listening to it many times. For students, I am a teacher and an “authentic material” too. I want students to use their time with me well.


Five months have passed since I came to Maui. Half of the school year is about to end.

Kamehameha school is a semester system, so from January, we have new classes and a new set of students. I’m so excited. I want to revise and improve my past lessons! Most importantly, I want to make an effort to create an environment and experience where the students think to themselves, “I really enjoy taking Japanese!”

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