Friday, October 26, 2007

Recipe for (hilarious) disaster...

(This is reminiscent of being in Auckland again, only instead of crass-mouthed men, it's an innocent-mouthed small child...)

The lesson: tuning in on interesting words
The ongoing lesson consists of teaching kiddos to listen for interesting words. I have made this lesson travel over to our daily read-aloud, The Trumpet of the Swan, in which children are supposed to listen for and share interesting words they hear. Since the book is a bit older, there are quite a few words of older fashion that the students do not know and find interesting. One word that one of my kiddos found interesting was gay. She infered (correctly) that it meant happy. So, we added it to our growing list of interesting words, and get excited when we hear it in our daily reading of this book, where the main character, Louis, is an exceptionally happy swan.

The assignment: writing sentences with your spelling words
Each night students are required to do various spelling assignments with their weekly words. Tuesday night's assignment is to write each word in a sentence, making sure to write the spelling word in colored pencil.

The recipe:

Mix together 1 part lesson and 1 part spelling assignment

(I feel gay.)

Luckily this student's parents do not speak a lick of English...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Name That City!

The Japanese, who like to make nothing easy, keep their society complicated partially due to 4 alphabets. Two of them, hiragana and katakana, are small symbols that make up the Japanese sounds in every word (in each of these two alphabets there are 47 symbols for each sound such as ga, wa, se, mi, etc...). The third alphabet is for words, and is called kanji. You may recognize it as pictographs, like Chinese writing. The fourth alphabet is the roman alphabet, called romanji, and is used in various forms such as writing bad grammar on t-shirts or spelling out words for stupid gaijin (foreigners like me).

Of the four alphabets, katakana is the most useful to know, as this is the alphabet that is used to spell out foriegn words that are not native to Japan. These words include such gems as clinic (ku-ri-n-ku), or America (a-me-ri-ka). As I have hinted in previous blogs, the Japanese have no sounds for some letters of our alphabet, such as l, th, or most blends.

I am telling you this because every day I come across a word that has been loosely translated from a foriegn word to fit the letter sounds that the Japanese have. This is a constant source of amusement for me, and tonight, I found the ultimate set of words, using Japanese sounds, to share with you.

So... please... see if YOU can name these cities, continents, and countries in the world (hint: it helps to sound each one out slowly):

1. Rosanzerusu

2. Nyu yoku

3. Rondon

4. Ajia

5. Yoroppa

6. Osutoraria

7. Burajiru

(post your answers in the comments spot - prize for the most guessed correctly - and no peeking at others' answers!)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Normal, not normal

Normal: driving on the right side of the road
Not Normal: driving on the left side of the road

Normal: one syllable for the word 'I'
Not Normal: 4 syllables for the word 'I' (wa-ta-shi-wa)

Normal: peeing sitting down
Not Normal: peeing while squatting

Normal: having 14 students in your class
Not Normal: having more than 20 (ooh... a little reversal on you there!)

Normal: the art of civilized conversation
Not Normal: reverting to hand signals and gestures when you want something


Today, I spent USD$105 sending home packages to cover the three birthdays and two babies that have happened in the last two months.

I can do this no more.

Please, out of respect for my budget, do not be upset when I do not send packages to you. Instead, be assured that I will bring gifts to cover all babies, weddings, and birthdays when I come in March.

I promise.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Before and after

Since coming to Japan, I've had to learn to speak two languages: Japanese and bad English.

Recently, I received an e-mail from a very nice Japanese lady whom I had spoken with during my Japanese classes. I had offered to work at a Japanese fair, speaking English to Japanese students, and she had written to say thank you.

In the past, my e-mail reply would have been verbose and wordy, (hopefully) intelligent, and with humor. It might have sounded something like this:

Hey Yoshiko!

Thanks for the great e-mail - I enjoyed hearing from you!

I am super excited and more than happy to do the fair next month. Having a chat with Japanese students should be right up my alley! It will be a blast, I'm sure!

By the way, I am looking to possibly get into teaching English to Japanese adults. Would you have any information on where I can look to get in on the likes of this kind of position? I'd really love to put my teaching to the test with older students, and help my Japanese at the same time! A double-whammy!

Thanks again for your e-mail. I'll look forward to hearing from you soon!



Now, though, considering my audience, I've had to scale back the grandeur of even the most simple e-mails. Letters I write to parents and Japanese adults typically sound as follows:


Hello again!

Thank you for your nice e-mail. I am very glad and excited to do the
Japanese fair! It will be a fun and learning event for me too!

I am good in Japan. I am here alone, and sometimes that can be a bit
hard, but the people I work with at the school are very friendly. I
like them. Nagoya is a nice place. It is hot as where I come from,
so there is not a big change for me.

It would be good to meet the family you have. The son and daughter sound nice. We can do conversation together to practice if you would like that!

Do you do teaching sometimes at the Nihongo classes too? I would like
to get more information about teaching English to adults in the
evenings. How do I find out about this teaching?

It is great to talk to you!



For further note, consider the following e-mail I received from a parent in the other second grade class. He works for Korean Air and will hopefully be helping me find discount airfare for my trip over the winter holidays:

hellow? miss foreman......
it is my pleasure to come to greet to you......
please do not hesitate to contact me.....
i will here for you in nagoya branch as a manager....
anyway, please info me about your holiday schedule bound for bali.......
then i will give a itinerary and air-price...
so, lets keep in touch!!!!!!!!
bye now........take care!!!!!!
Sincerely yours
Sanghoon (jinhee father)
phone number : 090....

Monday, October 01, 2007

You Laise Me Up

Now, don't get me wrong. I am very, very tolerant of others. I am very accepting of people for who they are. No matter what they say or do as part of their culture.

But I'm not going to lie. Sometimes a big, big laugh just comes out. Often in the most inappropriate times. Like this one...

Last week, there was an amazing youth orchestra who came to our school to do a concert. It was BEAUTIFUL! The string players were from 10-20 years old and were brilliant.

There was also a singer who did an opera number that was breathtaking.

But then...

She started to sing "You Raise Me Up" accompanied by the strings. It was fantastic, until the first line of the chorus came and she started singing "You laise me up, so I can cwimb on mountains...."

When the song was over, my tongue was bleeding from biting it really hard.

It's tough being a role model for children...