Friday, 27 November 2009

PostHeaderIcon Statue of Rivertea and 太股山県

The worst possible scenario at work has occurred in the last week or so. For those who may have read my blog in the past two years, you might be aware of my intense disliking of a certain "Katakana sensei". I thought my ordeal with her was over when she left these golden shores of Tano in spring to go study at University. However, I was in the middle of a "lesson arc" for my elementary classes when she decided to show up and take over so she can put into practice the fantastic education she has received. Her first classes went alright because I had taught the students the same lessons in the weeks leading up to it. I told her this and she ignored me. She then acted surprised when the students failed to learn something new she was teaching them. That's because her teaching method follows this pattern: Continuously chant the English until everyone loses the will to live before playing the most cliched of card games that every ALT uses as a last resort.

This week's set of classes proved to be no different. All excitement or creativity has been amputated in favour of the most mind-numbing and uninspiring structured class that I've come to expect from the Japanese process of... over-preparing and limiting any possibility of personal error. The problem is that sometimes it's better to loosen the constraints and let students be more creative and possibly think and learn from whatever mistakes they'd made. For instance, I'll teach the usual set question/answer with taught vocabulary but then ask the students to think of other examples. Usually, the grammar and pronunciation will be dreadful but I'll let it go because they've understood what they're saying and have put some personal thought into it.

This week consisted of reasons as to why the students wanted to go to another country or prefecture. Each one was linked with a specific reason that made it difficult to understand. For example, apparently myself and the students are meant to know what prefecture grapes, apples, peaches, crabs, potatoes "come" from. It was an absolute nightmare. It didn't help matters that she whipped out the kanji for them during the lesson and then asked me to read them off. I would make the comparison that it was the same as myself writing down Scottish towns and asking her to read them on the spot BUT the difference is that some of the kanji might as well have read "arse mountain prefecture" for all I knew. "I want to go to Futomomo Yama Ken! WHY? Because... I like orenji"

I managed to turn it into some welcomed comic relief but I couldn't help but think she did it on purpose to make me look like an idiot. Although I think she was upset that I knew the majority of them... because unlike her I've actually travelled to these magical lands where all the colourful fruits grow. The most enjoyable bits this week involved the class with countries. To begin with... she requested that I include Switzerland (...why?) in the collection of materials I had already made. I suggested that we could use Scotland (you know...where the foreigner in the room is from) or America or Australia or Nigeria... you know any of the other cards I made. Nope she wanted Switzerland. After the class she approached me and said (in Japanese) "It's really hard to say Switzerland". The next week she requested that I make some materials for Italy. After the class she complained that the flags of France and Italy are too similar and were confusing. This week she asked me in Japanese what the 自由の女神 was in English. I only knew that it was The Statue of Liberty because I had seen it on television once and was surprised that it was one of the few foreign things that had been given kanji. It is actually a nice translation and means Freedom's Goddess. She told me that it was too difficult. I told her that if she went to New York then she would need to use the English for it. She nodded in a way that meant she was ignoring me. So for the rest of the lesson we were all off to see the jiyu no megami in Nyu Yooku, Amerika.

So that about sums up my contribution to my job these days. I print off and laminate cards of various countries whilst failing to convince people that we should probably use English words during English class. I tend to stand in the corner of the classroom looking out the window and contemplating my existence whilst repeating words like a life size ipod. These days I tend to just go and play with the 1st grade and swing them all about the classroom until I make them so dizzy they fall on their arse and then laugh until they're almost in tears. Also, I can lie to them and tell them I'm really good at stuff that I'm not. The other day I juggled with two furry dice and was greeted with gasps and an applause. I then played the drums and they all said I was super talented. I then rolled my eyes into my skull, said I was a monster and picked up two screaming kids who I then told I was going to eat their ears first whilst their friends tried to save them by jabbing pokemon up my futomomo yama.


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About Me

I am a 24 year old Scotsman currently teaching English to Japanese schoolchildren. I live in a small town on the east coast of Kochi prefecture.