Alumni Spotlight: Nivedita Singh


Nivedita is pursuing Master's in International Education at the University of Tsukuba, Japan. She is from India and has a Master’s degree in Biotechnology. She is a passionate Biology teacher.

Why did you choose this program?

All teachers are language teachers.

Although my interest lies in teaching Biology, getting a science teaching job was challenging when I came to Japan. My friends suggested that I teach English for a while, and the TESOL Certification was a prerequisite for a non-native speaker. My reason for joining this course was quite practical but the experience brought a lot more to it.

I found plenty of online courses as I surfed online. However, only Shane Corporation was the one which had a classroom learning opportunity, and who doesn't prefer a hands-on learning experience?

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My program provider is an extremely interesting person, and we are still in touch. I always imagined that she had an enormous wallet where she stored countless activities or learning engagements. If you are in a fix about how to deliver something, she would always have ways to demonstrate it to you. At times she helped me twitch my context to make it relevant to Japanese learners. She would even reply on the weekends to check our lesson plans and give suggestions. I liked getting her constructive feedback on my lesson observations.

However, I wish that we were helped in developing the skill of reflection instead of merely telling us to reflect. Same goes for how to collaborate with other teachers or assign tasks. Also, the lesson plan templates were just handed over without helping us understand what goes into a lesson plan, or why and how to plan one by ourselves in the future.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Never give up. It's going to be hectic but rewarding as well. The best part is when you see an improvement in yourself after all the hard work.

One odd thing for me was that I expected classrooms in Japan to be techno-friendly smart classrooms but to my surprise, a lot of places, including Shane, don't prefer it.

In Tokyo, the small cozy apartments are waiting for you! You come here to experience the greenery and beautiful Japan but when you look out of your windows, you can see a labyrinth of buildings.

If you are a no-fuss public transport person, the metro connectivity and frequency here is amazing; it's affordable and punctual.

You don't have to fret about food choices in Tokyo as there are innumerable pocket-friendly restaurants from vegan to Halal.

The last one (and the world knows about it¬) is language. Be ready with a few Japanese greeting words; trust me you will need it. A culture of 'formals' and 'no tattoos' is not compulsory. However, I personally advise that if you are teaching an aged Japanese person, you should probably keep your tattoos hidden under your formal shirt.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

I did an approximately four-week course and honestly, it did make me go breathless at times. It drives you to push all your inhibitions aside, reflect on your own practices, and keep giving your best.

If you are someone who gets worked up by the extrinsic fear of failure, then you can sometimes relax. However, if your sheer motivation is an intrinsic drive for success, you have to work extremely hard.

During the course, you have one day of conducting classes and the other to observe your peers. The formal ones are scary and the latter ones were my comfort days. Be ready to keep one day out of your lovely weekend for laundry, sleeping, going out, and the other to complete your Journals

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

Coming from India, I should probably say "no water" in toilets but Japanese super techno-savvy toilets helped me flush all of my inhibitions away. Kidding!

The language barrier and limited social life, which I'm still working on by trying to learn Japanese, has been my biggest fear. After joining University, I found people who talk in English, and so the network grew.

Mostly, Japanese people are extremely helpful. They will go out of their way to help you out even when they think you speak 'gibberish'.

As hay fever and pollen allergies are usual in Japan and I'm asthmatic, this did trouble me for a while. I think my medical insurance took care of it, though.

The 'top-down' approach at traditional Japanese workplaces would be my biggest fear, and fortunately, I have yet not experienced it.