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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A day at JHS: laugh til ya cry

I don’t know what happened today. Maybe it’s just the mood that I’ve been in for the last few days. But today was the most hilarious day ever. There wasn’t much to do this morning. But when I got to school I found Crazy Pink Shirt (the gym teacher whose name I don’t know and even if I did, would still call him Crazy Pink Shirt) in a fluorescent (I kid you not) orange pants, a lighter orange sweatshirt and a bright yellow shirt underneath. So just for today, Crazy Pink Shirt was Crazy Orange Pants.

After lunch it all went downhill. I had class in 1.1 with Sawada-sensei. The students had to write their answers on the board. Now the spacing between words in Japanese is no different from the spacing between characters, so Japanese kids don’t get how important spacing is in English. So this boy walks up to the board and writes:
Whose penis this? –It’s mine.

I’m in the back choking, coughing, spluttering and all but dying in an attempt not to cackle.
Later on in class the same boy asks me if I went to Osaka last night and I am like (to myself) Are you a goat, Osaka is like 8 hours train ride from here (on a bullet train!). So I reply no, and he is like I saw you. Then I realise he meant Osaka the restaurant in my town and not Osaka prefecture, which I unfortunately said out loud and caused all my students to laugh at me.
Then it was off to 3.2 with Baba sensei. 3.2 is the form with the Nothing-kid. He does NOTHING! Well, occasionally he will make a dart board and play darts on the floor, and he is apparently in the band, but obviously neither of these things affect his grades. He seems like he’s pretty smart if he half-tries, but he doesn’t. He’s just the sort of person who ent doing it if he ent interested. Of course, that don’t fly by me and I go and stand over him and make him do the work while his friends giggle. Baba-sensei might let him get away with it, but on my watch he will at least pretend to work.

Anyhow Baba-sensei asks Mr. Nothing in Japanese (because if you’re going to ask him a question you might as well ask him the only question that requires no knowledge of Japanese).

“Kansetsu no hantai wa?”
English: What is the opposite of kansetsu?

He looks back at Baba-sensei and with a complete deadpan face, replies:
“Kansetsu ja nai.”
English: not kansetsu.

So it wasn’t just me. The whole class erupted. And Claire gagged, spluttered and choked her way through the rest of the day. Apart from all the laughs today was a good day. I did some studying and I managed to explain stuff to my kids in Japanese. But I did the head thing that bugs me about how they teach English here. I explained to the kids in Japanese before I tried them English. Will try to be a better foreigner next time.

Torigoe Olympics

On Monday, I went to my Monday school. I know it sounds obvious, but I call it my Monday school because most JETs are at their offices on Monday and not teaching, and because my other two schools I am at for four days a week, as opposed to just the one at Torigoe.

Anyhow, the English Activity Coordinator told me that something was happening in 3rd period and I should come. She explained it in English, so I had no clue what she said. Seriously there are some people out here that I understand so much better in Japanese. Lol!

So I go to the gym at 3rd period, like I am supposed to, and lo and behold, it’s the Torigoe Olympics or “oh-ree-n-pee-ku” as they say in Japanese. And I left my camera in the staff room! So the whole school (all like 36 students-lol) are in teams, and they all have bands around their heads to represent the colour of their team. Now the Torigoe Olympics is not like a Sports Day, they already had Sports last term. The Olympics is just some random madness. But the thing is that in every event in the Olympics, is team competition.
There were four events. In the first event, it was a janken (rock-paper-scissors) relay. You had to run cross the gym, janken against a teacher. If you win, you run back and tag the next body in line, if you lose the whole team gotta run cross the gym, before the next body could start. The men put me as one of the teachers to play Janken. I am the worst: I lost to every student except the very last. (Embarassment!) The yellow team, which I went up against came second in that game. Red won.
The next event was Team skip. Two people from the team turned a skipping rope while the entire rest of the team skipped tp see what number they could get to. Red won again, amassing an incredible 35 jumps in a row. (I can not even get 35 by myself, but then I just suck at skipping.
After that, there was the three-legged race, hilarity in any culture, this time I think Green won, and red cam dead last. The final event was the most hilarious thing I ever see in Sports History. They broke the school into seniors and juniors. Grades 1 to 3 compete together as did 4 to 6. You had to take the band off your head and hang it out the back of your pants, like a tail. Then you had a minute to run around inside the area of the basketball court, trying to steal as many tails as you could! If your tail got stolen, you had to go off the court and sit down. At the end of the two rounds, every single time had 6 points.
The final score: Red won, Yellow second, Green third and then Blue. That works for me since Red and Yellow were my primary school and secondary school houses.
I hope this is an annual event and not every 4 years like the real Olympics, really need to get pictures of it!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Correcting the Japanese on Japanese!

It always amazes my kids, elementary or JHS, when I do something with Japanese, like speak it or write it. I think my Ichinohe Elementary School kids are used to me writing in Hiragana, since I teach them on my own . They were amazed the first few times, but now it’s set in that I know hiragana and some Kanji. Unfortunately, it means they often assume that I speak Japanese, which I really don’t. So they’ll rattle on and on about God only knows what.
Since I have a JTE (Japanese Teacher of English) always with me when I am at Junior High, I never need to write on the board or explain anything in Japanese so they are still shocked when I do. Anyhow at the front of all the classrooms is a board where they write up which subject is in which period (the schedule is not constant) and any notes. So I have a part-time JTE at my JHS, and so when she is coming to class they write that up in the notes. Since I have so much time when I am not doing anything in class, I read (attempt to read) all the stuff on the walls. So I glanced at the board today. First I was surprised that they had written “Sensei” (master/teacher) in hiragana (syllables) instead of Kanji (先生). As far as I concerned, if I know it, 3rd grade JHS students (15/16 years old) should also know it. But to top it off they had written -, which was wrong for two reasons, first off the dash is used to represent a double vowel sound, making it sensee, secondly, the dash is only used in katakana (the alphabet used to represent foreign words), in hiragana, the letter is just added so it should have been , even if it was a double e. So I quietly took up a piece of chalk, erased the dash and wroteい , while the JTE was teaching. The students near me all gasped in amazement, and the other JTE who had just showed up with a video camera laughed.
Way to teach the J-kids how to spell in their own language. Yatta!
P.s. afterwards it occurred to me that it could have been the form teacher that wrote it. Then I would feel bad for showing him up. He’s a cool guy and he got married on Sunday.
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