Monday, September 27, 2004

Serious Bloggage Reduction


It is very likely that I will be blogging a LOT less in the very near future.

Let me tell you about my day.

First, let me express my joy in teaching. The more cynical among you will immediately assume I'm speaking sarcastically, but actually, I do enjoy teaching very much. I didn't think I would; I could barely remember the times in the past when I had taught (I was, in fact, a classroom assistant for nearly a year).

Oh, what had I forgotten?

Teaching is a joy. Seeing comprehension dawn on a frustrated student's face is wondrous; seeing frustration form on a student's face is likewise painful.

Of course, let us not fail to mention the cruel pleasure of calling on a student who is being disruptive. I don't really care if students would rather read or sleep or do homework or whatever in class (if they're sleeping, maybe they're bored and I need to be more interesting, or maybe they have problems at home, or whatever; I don't know their situation), as long as they aren't disturbing the students around them.

But...beware. If you talk to your friend in class, you're next to be called on (and your friend is next after you). If you get out of your seat, you're next. If you are disruptive in any way, you're next.

I think my perverse pleasure in calling on students in that way is actually in how quickly they learn what my rule is. Often, by the end of the class that day, I will run out of people to call on (everyone remains silent, facing forward, sitting perfectly in their chairs). And that too is pleasurable, so it's two-fold.

Anyway, so in one of my first classes today, one kid is playing with a box-cutter. A box cutter like the ones purportedly used in the 9/11 attacks. (I should post my 9/11 rant in another post, but I'll probably let it slide). Anyway, this is Japan, so the possibility of a box-cutter being used as a weapon is remote (Well....), but for me it was distracting. Slide the blade out, slide the blade back in.

Anyway, where was I?

Ah, yes. So, it was near the end of class, and I think most of the students had figured out what I was doing, but there was one girl who was clearly talking to another student (behind her, so she also had to turn around to speak to them). Of course I called on her.

She gave a perfect answer, right away. Actually, a word-perfect answer. The exact answer I had in my Teacher's Edition textbook.


I walk over to her desk, and she has another textbook open. With the answers in it. I look at the JTE, who said "It's a guidebook." A guidebook that has ALL the answers in it, to every question in the textbook.

I'm trying not to judge.

Anyway, where was I?

Ah, in the next class, we taught the first-graders how to use the phrase "How Many" by playing a game^H^H^H^H^H doing an activity.
  1. Give all the students 5 small pieces of paper.
  2. Two students get together and Janken.
  3. The loser hides 0..5 pieces of paper in their hands.
  4. The loser asks "How many pieces do I have?"
  5. The winner guesses. If they're correct, they win a piece of paper and move on. If not, they just move on.
May sound boring, but it's fun enough for first-graders, and they learn "How Many", so it serves its purpose.

We also introduced new words today, including the word "Often" which brought up an interesting point.

Do you pronounce the 't'?

I pronounce it ôften, with the 't' sound, but here, they usually pronounce it ôfen, without the 't' sound. How can I explain that both are correct? English is a fun language, and since I've become an English teacher, I'm noticing more and more fun things about it.

Another example from class today:
Q: Is Carlo's host family busy?
A: Yes, they are. -or- Yes, it is.

Grammatically, the second answer is correct, but the majority of English speakers will interpret the question as: Are the member's of Carlo's host family busy? This makes the first answer correct.

The first one is the answer from the book.

Anyway, what was I talking about? (Damn lack of filter means lack of focus)

Ah, yes, why I will be posting less in the near future.

My third class for today. Let me tell you how it went.

It was for third-graders learning "How To". The JTE had a bag of Japanese items (bowl, grill, large chopstick, small cup, etc) that I didn't know the names of, or how to use. They were hidden in a bag, and I would describe them to the students, who would guess what I was talking about. Of course, I would describe them completely wrong.

"It's a small, white, ceramic cup (true), maybe for use as a watering dish for hamsters (nope)."

Then, we'd pull the item out of the bag and show it to the students, who would then tell me the Japanese name of the item.

Except, of course, we're talking about middle-school students. So, they didn't tell me the ACTUAL Japanese name of the item. Would you? Seriously?

No, they would say the name of another student, and I would dutifully repeat it, nodding wisely. Ah, yes, it's a Wataru. Everyone would laugh.

Actually, this worked great; the students stayed awake and had fun. However, it has instilled in me a determination to study Japanese more. After all, in two weeks and two days, I will be 29. And I started studying Japanese when I was 25. And I have forgotten everything I used to know.

So, instead of blogging at work, I'm going to study Japanese. And instead of blogging at home, I'm going to study Japanese. My goal is to be able to have a basic Japanese conversation, and my timetable is: One month. It's too late to have my goal be my birthday, so the new end-date is October 31st (or as we say in Japan, October 31th). Halloween.

I'll try and keep my blog updated with my progress, so leave comments (I'll probably work harder knowing I have an audience). And, since work actually ended thirty minutes ago, and I'm the only teacher left in the building, I should go home now. :)

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