Ellen-sensei is in charge of more than just the English class now.
Let’s take a moment and think back to the spring of 2016. The school year had just started in Japan, and students across the country were being issued new textbooks for their classes. It was then that Japan fell in love with English teacher Ellen Baker.
Born and raised in Boston, Ellen-sensei, as she became affectionately known, moved to Japan to start a job as an ALT, or assistant language teacher at Midori Middle School. That’s a path that many young adults have taken, but the twist is that Ellen wasn’t a real person, but a character in publisher Tokyo Shoseki’s English-learning textbook New Horizon, complete with a cute anime girl-style illustrated character design.
▼ Ellen’s enthusiastic baseball bat swing pantomime as she declares herself a Red Sox fan was particularly cute and charming.
2016年 4月〜— 流行・ネットミームまとめbot (@netmemebot) January 18, 2023
However, infatuation is often short-lived in the otaku sphere, where there’s always a new game or anime character vying for everyone’s attention, and in time, Ellen-sensei faded into the background. She’s back in the spotlight now, though, as the New Horizons star has expended her horizons and is now the cover character for a whole range of Tokyo Shoseki texts, even for subjects other than English.
For example, in the text pictured above she’s teaching math (数学). What’s more, Ellen-sensei is now in charge of higher-level lessons than she was before. Her first job was teaching middle school English, but she’s now appearing on the covers of Tokyo Shoseki’s Koukou Nyushi Youten Zuba! Premium series, a series of books for students ratcheting up their studying in preparation for Japan’s notoriously difficult high school entrance exams.
In addition to math, Ellen is now also teaching social studies…
…and even Japanese language to native Japanese students, a very impressive feat for someone who learned it as a second language.
And naturally, she’s on the overs for the series’ English…
…and English vocabulary texts too.
The Koukou Nyushi Youten Zuba! Premium series, with its focus on passing high school entrance exams, doesn’t seem to feature as many playful illustrations as New Horizons. Previews show that Ellen can be found at least once inside, though, as we see her here shouting a reminder to readers that they can download the texts’ AReader AR app for additional instruction.
As for Ellen’s presence in New Horizons, the Boston-born educator doesn’t have as large a role there as she used to, but fans have found her in one scene from the English text for second-year junior high students.
ちなみに元スレでも言及がありましたが— ビリヤニマン (@biryaniman) January 25, 2023
Then again, with how busy she apparently is with the Koukou Nyushi Youten Zuba! Premium series, it makes sense that Ellen has less time for New Horizons, and online reactions show many fans are happy to see her in her new role.
“These are worth buying just for their covers.”
“I love Ellen-sensei! She became the person in charge of every subject before I even realized it.”
“For textbooks, they regularly replace old characters with new ones, and it’s extremely rare for a character who was cycled out to show up again or appear in other books, so this shows how aware the publisher is of how popular Ellen-sensei is.”
“Ellen-sensei is really multi-talented…is what I’d like to say, but maybe her company is just working her crazy hard.”
It may be the simplistic interpretation, but I’m going to take Ellen-sensei’s smiling face at face value and believe that she’s happy in her now role and handling it with aplomb. Being an ALT is tough work, and a lot of people who come to Japan call it quits after a few years, so it’s good to see Ellen making a fulfilling career out of being an educator in Japan and her employer recognizing her talents, and the textbook series is available through Amazon here.
Source: Amazon/Tokyo Shoseki via Otakomu, Twitter
Top image: Amazon/Tokyo Shoseki
Insert images: Amazon/Tokyo Shoseki (1, 2)
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