Notes to Self II


When your class of exceptionally rowdy 13 and 14 year old boys want to learn the words to Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend”, check the lyrics before you agree. I’m expecting angry phone calls from parents.

Subnote – Avril’s a bitch.


Note to Self

happy gilmore

Watch all dvds before showing them in class.

No matter what you might think you remember from a decade ago, Happy Gilmore is not suitable for showing to a class of rural Japanese students.

The kids laughed, I cringed.

At least “dickwad” went over their heads.

I hope.


So, in one of my junior high school classes we wrote stories. We each wrote a line, and then passed the sheet of paper along to the next person who added a line. It was a good reading/writing exercise.

Thing is, the results were hilarious.

My question is – would it be wrong to post the stories on the internet?

How wrong?

30 Days of Japanese Update – FAIL


The subheading for this post should be “Little Kids Are Gross – Part Two”. I’ve already had a rant about this here, but I need to re-rant. Apologies for repetition.


I was doing pretty well on my 30 days of Japanese, but then I got sick. One of the many downsides of working with children is that their standards of personal hygiene are low. I’m continually swatting little hands away from noses and ears, removing hands from underwear (their own and others’), instructing kids to cover their mouths when they cough, returning kids to the bathroom to wash their hands and generally being the hygiene police. 


As well as their filthy habits, kids come from 11 or 12 different schools, from different classes and all crowd together into one big germ-happy cloud. These horrid little clouds of skank want to hold my hand and touch my face. I just have to rein in the old gag reflex and be nice. Bleurgh.


I wash my hands all the time. I keep my own little mini towel in my bag so I don’t have to use the kids’ one (sounds weird, but a lot of Japanese have their own little towels). I even use hand sanitizer. But still. It’s gross. 


Anyway, the point is that I got some kind of stomach problem. So I haven’t been keeping up with all the tasks. Just keeping up with the SRS reps is tough enough, adding new kanji is too much. 


Yesterday I got back on track and did all my things. Since I’m trying to do 30 days in a row, what should be Day 10 or so is now Day 2. 


Wish me luck.


PS – I don’t actually hate children. I just wish their parents would show them how to use a nail brush.

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.

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.


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.