Stupid Kids


It happens every day.


I explain what we’re going to do. I have the kids give the explanation back to me to make sure they understand. Then I ask who wants to go first. Hands shoot up into the air. I pick a kid. A look of shock and horror crosses their face. They refuse to do it. Ok, who else wants to do it? Hands up again – MEMEMEMEMEMEME!!!!! I pick again. Shock and horror. Refusal. 


I explain over and over again that if you raise your hand, I will call on you. If you don’t want to do the particular task/game/whatever, DON’T RAISE YOUR FREAKING HAND!!


I know Japan’s all about the group identity, but sheesh.


Japanese Kids Wear The Darndest Things II


Today, one of my 14 year old boys wore a t-shirt that said 


“Everyone say I believe fate but I don’t understood what say”.


I get paid to correct grammar.



Frustrations of Teaching


Recently I’ve found myself increasingly frustrated with work. For anyone reading this for the first time, I teach kids from the ages of 2 to 18 in after-school English classes. The classes are held in a small private school. Two classrooms, two foreign conversation teachers, a Japanese grammar teacher, a Filipina helper and a Japanese office lady. The owner/”director” of the school makes an occasional appearance for a few minutes.


There are some problems.


First, there are just too many kids in each class. Some classes have fourteen 4-6 year olds. Now, in comparison to regular school class sizes, this is tiny, but for me, it’s too many. Mostly because I just don’t have the language skills to control them. I mean, if one of the kids says something horrible to another, and then gets pummelled, the pummeller gets in trouble and the pummellee gets an apology. It’s just not right. I spend so much of my time breaking up fights and trying to get the kids to concentrate that it’s exhausting. 


The second major problem is mixed levels in the same class. One class has a couple of kindergartners in with a bunch of 8-year-olds that range from smart to dolt and one sharp as a tack 10-year-old. The 10-year-old is bored out of his mind, the kindergartners don’t learn a thing and the 8-year-olds don’t learn much because whenever they don’t know the answer, they look to the older kid and he whispers the answer. It’s all kind of pointless. 


Lastly, the level that’s being expected is too high. The crunch came when I was trying to teach the kids the phrase “any”. As in, “is there any soda/are there any sandwiches”. We were playing go fish. The kids had to use the phrase “Do you have any fives”. They’re playing in teams, three 10-year-olds to a team. It’s the girls’ team’s turn. One says “Do you have any….. go?” Go is Japanese for five. Seriously. I’m trying to teach the particulars of some/any and they can’t count to ten. After having gone to classes at this school for seven years. Their parents have spent over million yen on classes at this school over the past seven years or so. Go convert that into your own currency and marvel. I’m spending my days drilling verbs like repair, shovel, type and revise when the kids’ grasp of be, do and go are shaky at best. 


Ugh. Sometimes I miss my desk job.


Cherry = Popped


Yesterday, May 25 2009, at 20.26 (Japan Standard Time), I felt the earth move.


It was a strange, nauseating experience.

My head swam, my stomach lurched, sweat broke out.

My face turned bright red.

My heart pounded and I was breathing fast.

I thought I might pass out.


My first earthquake.


I was teaching a high school class at the time, explaining the difference between a dramatic romance and a romantic drama in terms of film genres.


It didn’t even occur to me that it might be an earthquake.

I thought I was fainting, and I started trying to work out how many hours it had been since I had last eaten.

As far as I could tell, nobody else reacted.


Once I had recovered I asked the class – “Earthquake?”

None of them knew the word.

I mimed “earthquake” with my hands.

“Mmmmmmmm. Yes.”

“Phew. My first earthquake.”

“Your first time? Eeeeehhhhh! Sugoi!”


Cue spontaneous round of applause.




(Sugoi means great/wow.)


ETA – Checked online just now – 4.6 on the Richter scale, if you’re interested.

Let’s Enjoy Beering!

kids beerこどもびいる - child beer


Sometimes in work I have to go and hunt down the kids to make them come to class. Mostly they’re just chilling on the sofas, sometimes they’re hiding in the toilets, sometimes they’re beating the crap out of each other in the corridor. 


Today I had a class of boys aged 8-10. Not a single one showed up on time. I found them huddled in a corner, passing around a can of beer, taking swigs and then pulling faces at how disgusting it was. The Japanese teacher was looking on, laughing. The room smelled like beer. I was horrified. 


Turns out, it was children’s beer. Non-alcoholic, but it looks, smells and tastes just like beer. It’s marketed to children and has a picture of a child on the label. 


I had heard rumours, but didn’t actually believe it existed. I suppose it’s a great way to get children used to the taste of beer while they’re young. I, at the grand age of 25, am still not used to the taste. I just can’t drink beer. Maybe if I’d been trained from the age of 5 the breweries would have one more loyal customer…

Tales Of The Classroom III


After watching The Incredibles with  class of 12 year olds, I asked the kids to write a few lines on what superpower they would choose and why.

Two of the answers – 


“I want good brain. I english bad. schol to hard and mother goob want. become intelligence and happy future. I baka.”


Oh dear. Baka means idiot/stupid.


“I want teleport.”

“Where would you go?”

“Ehhhhhhhhhhhhh…. I go school.”

“That’s it? Just to school? Not to America or Europe or the moon?”

“I go school… fast.”


The lack of imagination staggers me.

Tales Of The Classroom II


Class of kindergartners are playing a game. I’m kneeling on the floor sorting out the flashcards.


Kid finds blonde hair on carpet. Carries it over oh-so-carefully in cupped hands to show me. I feign horror, clutch scalp in hands- “Oh no! Not another one! I’m going bald!”


Kid very gently replaces lost hair, sticking it back in with the rest. Nods solemnly. Pats me on the shoulder.