Virtual English Classroom connects ASIJ and Tohoku

From May, 2013 to March, 2014, ASIJ has been interacting with Sakari Elementary School in Ofunato City, Iwate for a special program. Ofunato City was one of the areas immediately affected by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster of March 11, 2011. We wanted to do something to show our support for their recovery and tried to think of a unique assistance ASIJ could provide. We came up with an idea to offer English lessons and were able to create a virtual classroom after school twice a month.

The English lessons were taught by ASIJ high school students and in addition to creating a fun environment where the 5th and 6th grade Sakari Elementary School students could learn to enjoy English, they also got to learn about each other.  Students were able to interact one-on-one with each other through Skype video. In total we conducted fourteen lessons as well as a special Halloween message.  In December, when our high school students had semester exams, middle school students volunteered to take over.

In March at the end of the Japanese school year, we bid farewell to the 6th grade students and wished them best of luck in middle school (which starts from grade 7 in Japan). And to the 5th grade students we said “see you again!” with the hope that this project will turn into a long-term friendship between our schools.

At the end of the project we received beautiful hand-drawn post cards from all of the students in Iwate who participated. They held touching and hopeful messages such as “Thank you for making English fun for me” and “Thank you for teaching me so much.”

A special Thank You to Tim Thornton, Steve Mita, Tai Dirkse, Gene Witt, Susan Islascox, Mary Onions, Maya Moore, Kaori Hakone, Anita Gesling, Keiko Auckerman and many more teachers and students who helped our group with videotaping, costumes, and appearing in our Halloween video and more.