'But they're all speaking Japanese,' my colleague exclaimed when she observed my Advanced Japanese students at our end of term party. For me, this comment and the sound of my students conversing in Japanese - so naturally, so easily and so confidently beyond the artificial setting of the classroom - was the best possible outcome of my course. I had achieved my goal; to encourage students to independently use Japanese, to see it not as a body of linguistic functions to be mastered, but as a vehicle for self-expression.
I base my teaching practice on three fundamental principles: relevance, flexibility and trust. I always aim to provide topics, materials and language that are relevant to students, while providing a flexible learning environment that promotes student autonomy and allows them to take ownership of their own learning. I believe that there is much each student can offer to their cohort, and in my class I make sure that students are not anonymous and work to help each individual feel respected, included and valued. I work hard to cultivate a sense of trust between myself and the students and also amongst the students themselves.
I incorporate assessment items and feedback methods that encourage independent learning and subsequently allow the students to continue to master the Japanese language beyond the confines of my classroom. I encourage learning strategies that allow as much autonomy as possible and promote self-assessment of student's language use, in order to equip them with the tools necessary to be independent Japanese learners.
My commitment to being the best teacher I can be was rewarded by an ANU Vice Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence in 2012, the 2011 ANU College of Asia and the Pacific Award for Teaching Excellence, and an AAUT Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning in 2013.