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.
Thursday, 26 November 2009

PostHeaderIcon Mado


I don't why it is but every winter I am in Japan I tend to get sicker and sicker. This year I've had problems with colds, infru, ear infections, pulled muscles and other things that led me to diagnose myself on the internet. It turns out that I'm seven months pregnant. Personally, I'm still more willing to trust the internet than a Japanese doctor. I read an account (on facebook status updates) of another ALT in Kochi who told the doctor in Japanese about six times of a drug they were allergic too and it would kill them. The doctor then prescribed 4 different medications... two of which had the drug in it. Just saying like...

So I feel like death all warmed up for another approaching weekend of failed Japanese study. No doubt I'll end up sitting in my underwear, eating pizza and getting massacred playing teenage Americans on Xbox Live. After two years I finally got my stupid console connected to the internet. I have therefore spend the last week or two listening to the most ridiculous "smack talk" whilst playing football and shooting games. Every American on the internet sounds like the same person. The saturation of the word "faggot" is almost unbelievable. I have had the most fun in the world winding them up. It's like shooting babies in a barrel... stealing candy from fish. Except... my character is in the barrel and all the other fish are sniping me from 200 metres away. My Japanese test is coming up in about 9-10 days. I have failed miserably at my studying. There is just too much grammar and conjugations and exceptions and I don't care and I don't even speak anything that I learn and everyone is better than me and I failed last year too and oh dear. I should be studying right now.

I got really drunk on Wednesday evening. I haven't been drunk for ages... probably since my last few bouts of blog updates. It's possible I only write when I've got the moany comedowns of mid-week to deal with. An old JET friend came back to visit so we gaijin smashed an all you can drink affair at a Korean barbecue place and retired to my house for more drinking. I finished off a fair amount of lovely Bowmore single malt mmm mmm. I drink it with hot water and the lovely peat goes all the way down to my soul and back. I might have one for lunch. You know... to fight off the infru. I saw it on Japanese television. The Japanese man told that it would work.

Anyway... let me conclude with a reason as to why I might be ill all the time. Japanese homes are freezing in the colder months. They don't have any form of heating or insulation. The other morning I went to junior high school early to be part of the yearbook picture. I got a front row seat next to the principals. I don't know how I pulled that one off. Considering I had just woken up... bombed it down the 40 minute drive from the mountains and was wearing my torn converse and a lovely jumper. They made me put my hands on my knees... clenched... and told me to stop smiling. Anyway... back in the office I noticed that I was as cold as I'd ever been. It suddenly occurred to me that every window was open. I closed the one behind me and preceded to watch everyone complain that "Oh it's so cold. Oh isn't it just? Oh it's so cold? Whatever could be the reason?" I then told one of them that HEY MAYBE... MAYBE... we could close the windows?

Oh no no no. "We need to open the windows for fresh air. Fresh air is healthy."
Tuesday, 10 November 2009

PostHeaderIcon Good news

A few months before I came to Japan there was a greatly covered news story about a 22 year old English girl who was killed by some Japanese scumbag. She worked for a private English school and was murdered when she went to his home. Anyway, I played along with the initial dodgy banter from friends down the pub that I'd end up in a bath of sand as she did before forgetting about it. However, I was reading about her story last week again and I felt exceptionally angry and sorry for her. The killer managed to run past NINE Japanese policemen in his bare feet when they came to arrest him. He has been on the run for over two years and it is pretty obvious that his family had been funding him - he got half-caught after having a lot of plastic surgery done last month. I was feeling pretty disgusted by the half-arsed police job and the lack of scrutiny on the killer's family but he was caught in Osaka earlier today. Good stuff. I hope he rots in the jail.
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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.

Shashins