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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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