My name is Aiko Mackus and I am one of the English teachers & chaperones at Fun Opportunity Abroad (FOA). In the summer of 2013, I was given a wonderful opportunity – to teach English to Japanese students! And it has been an adventure growing as a teacher and person. When I first started working with the students whose ages range from 9-17, I was surprised to see their enthusiasm to learn the English language and I have seen this attitude with every group I have come in contact with since.
Over the last year and a half working with FOA during the summer, winter and spring season, I have met so many students from a variety of prefectures in Japan such as Tokyo, Saitama, Kanagawa, Niigata, Gifu, Kagoshima, Tochigi, and Hokkaido! It’s so much fun getting to know about the students’ backgrounds and where they are from.
In order to get to know the students, communication is a must. With my elementary level Japanese speaking skills, I try to talk with the students through the use of English. At first it can be a bit difficult as the students can be shy about speaking English. However, within the first English class, I do my best to have a light & engaging atmosphere in which the students are comfortable and do not feel nervous about speaking in front of their classmates. To get students into practice speaking English I use interactive games. Bingo, Find Someone Who…, XYZ, and the Alphabet game are the games that my students have had the most fun playing! It’s always great to see students enjoying the game and sometimes they don’t even realize that they’re learning new words or phrases.
Besides the English morning classes that I assist with, I am also a chaperone which means that I go with a group of students, the Japanese translators and FOA staff on exciting afternoon excursions to various locations. Within the last year and a half, I have been on a tour to House Foods Corporation, Quicksilver, Oakley, Irvine & Newport Beach Police Station, Costa Mesa Fire Department, Fender Musical Instrument Corporation, OC Register, Amoeba Records, The Christ Cathedral (formerly known as Crystal Cathedral), University of California, Irvine and various middle/high schools in Orange County. Additionally with the students, I have visited the Discovery Science Center, California Science Center (LA), Hollywood Walk of Fame, Santa Monica Pier, Huntington Beach, Balboa Island, and shopping malls such as South Coast Plaza, Irvine Spectrum, and Westfield Main Place Mall. The place in which every group absolutely loved visiting for the entire day was, “The Happiest Place on Earth” – DISNEYLAND!
Each group is unique and I have had the honor of meeting a majority of them during their seven to ten day stay in Southern California. One group that will be forever in my memories was when I was working alongside fellow FOA staff, Mary last spring (2014) with a group of twenty students from Seibo Jr. High School. My particular class had ten students – usually I have around 15-20 students – so this was very small and intimate. Initially I was worried that the students wouldn’t want to speak during class but I was wrong. The class was AWESOME! Whenever I wrote anything on the board, handed out worksheets or had games to play – everyone was involved. Throughout the course of their seven day stay, my class and I developed a bond! Today, I am still in contact with them through the use of social media – Facebook, Instagram & Twitter – and we send messages back & forth.
My time at FOA has been exciting & rewarding thus far! I’m looking forward to meet, teach and go on more adventures with students in the future!
The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”