Yoko has taught Japanese across all year levels in Middle and Senior School and is currently teaching students in Years 9 to 12. Having grown up in Japan where she studied English and French at school, Yoko then attended university in the United States and Australia where she added another two languages to her repertoire, Spanish and Italian. In addition to languages, Yoko is a talented musician and often plays the piano at school assemblies.
I decided to pursue a career in education after being taught by some inspirational language teachers.
What inspired you to work in the field of education?
I have always been interested in languages and in my late teens, I decided to pursue a career in education after being taught by some inspirational language teachers. I find teaching very rewarding; to see students genuinely enjoy the language you teach, and to hear about your former students continuing their language studies at university or using the language skills in their chosen careers is fantastic.
What skills are useful as a language teacher?
Obviously, in-depth linguistic and cultural knowledge of the language you are teaching is essential. I studied linguistics at university — linguistics is not just about the structural analysis of language such as syntax, semantics, morphology or phonetics. What interested me most in my study was understanding the different language acquisition processes for first and second language learners, and how languages evolve and function in different sociocultural contexts through different times.
I also believe it is just as important for language teachers to have creativity and an understanding of the different learning styles of students. A sense of humour and the patience of a saint would also be useful!
What advice would you give to a student studying a language?
Develop your analytical and creative thinking skills. You need to understand the structure of the language, but the ability to apply the acquired knowledge in different contexts to communicate your ideas is incredibly important. You need to be able to go beyond grammar drills and memorising a list of words for tomorrow’s quiz.
What makes Fintona a special place to work at?
The students and their drive for personal excellence in what they do, a great rapport between the students and the teachers, and the collegiality of the School community.
Tell us about your life outside Fintona
I am a passionate Western Bulldogs supporter and enjoy going to the game with my family and friends. As we hold the front row seats on the fence in the Members’ Stand at the Marvel Stadium, you can often spot me on TV. I also enjoy playing the piano, good music and good food. I have two grown-up children, a daughter and a son. My daughter, Stephanie, is an Old Fintonian who graduated in 2007.