August 24, 2004

More Wisdom From My Students

First, a special thanks to Auntie Don for calling me twice! It made my day though I hate the end rush of okayohmygodonlyaminuteleftihatethisphonecardokayiloveyouthanksforcallingiloveyoubye!
I'm all knuckles.

Anyway, I apologize for not being as good as Jed about updating my site often.

But without further adieu, here are some more great sayings that get me through the days of an often tedious job...

*There is an info section on each student that we are supposed to read before the lesson in case they have special needs. In one, I read that this student killed her cat with scissors. She doesn't remember but her mother told her about it.

*During a lesson on preferences and supporting your opinions a student said, "I prefer a relaxing vacation because I am a lazy man."

*During a lesson with a beginner student where she must have lacked vocabulary knowledge, "I like sushi." Immediately followed by, "I hate seafood."

*In a lesson comparing the past and present, "5 years ago, I was lazy and wide."

*Sometimes getting students to repeat me can be endlessly exhausting:
ME: "I like pizza. Repeat."
STUDENT: "I like pizza. Repeat."

*I asked one student how long she had been studying English. Thinking I was actually asking her how long she will study English she answered, "I study English until the end of my life."

*A student actually used the expression, "Slow boat to China." Meaning, he actually took a slow boat to China and he wished he took a plane. This is one of those expressions my father likes to use as a way of showing off what he thinks is superior knowledge. Like, sophomoric.

*One of my favorites, I asked a student to find a more tactful way of telling someone they look fat. She suggested, "Your skull looks full."

*I often find the people in this country robotic. Proving this was when one student asked me, "What is emotion?"

*I asked one woman where she would like to go. She replied, "I would like to go to New York and have thick beef."

*During a lesson on reflexives, I asked a man to tell me something he could not do by himself when he was younger. He was a higer level student and replied, "When I was a child, I could not wear clothes by myself."

*One woman told me she teaches songs to very small handicapped children. Songs like 'The Muffin Man.' The other student wanted to know why she didn't sing Jessica Simpson or Mariah Carey.

*"Bush would enjoy Geisha." I am sure he would. (Maybe has.)

*We always open with questions for the students to ask eachother as a way of warming up.
STUDENT A: "Are you a student?"
STUDENT b: "No, I am a real adult."

*Usually these questions are the basic introductory questions, but one of my students opted for a different approach: "What is the currency of Iraq?" Silence. "What is the currency of Greece?"

**I taught the appointed financial advisor to Osaka of PM Koizumi.
**I taught a woman whose sister graduated from UMASS Boston.
**A student told me that the news reports said that this is Japan's hottest summer in 100 years and that I am unlucky.

The fun just never stops! Until it does.

Posted by karen at 09:41 PM | Comments (2)

August 18, 2004

Our Very Own Ned Flanders

In Winsted, it was a manager of McDonald's on one side and a woman who believed her dogs could talk to the dead or something.

In Seattle, it was some really nice lesbians.

In Orlando, it was "Carlos" (real name, Jerry) and his girldfriend who had no furniture and often fought wildly into the night.

Here, it is Techang. It took us two months to meet him but we finally shared an elevator and met our neighbor across the hall. Before the elevator reached the 2nd floor he had invited us in.

We entered his apartment a few moments later and were immediately filled with envy. His apartment was bigger, nicer and had a bay window.

He told us that he had seen us, mostly Jed and marvelled at his height. He simply could not get over how big Jed was. He laughed and giggled, especially when telling us about funny he found it that such a big man rode such a small bicycle. His English was excellent though he was ashamed at how little he spoke but we were able to carry on a comfortable and lengthy conversation with him. He also said he wanted me to teach him English!

He owns a factory across the street and makes fishing poles. At first I thought it was meaningless factory work but oddly enough, these poles have made their way to the Milan fashion shows and are on the covers of several magazines. He seems to be doing very well for himself. He invited us over to meet his girlfriend the next night.

We went over expecting things to be like they were the night before, casual conversation. We met Michio, his girlfriend, a gorgeous Japanese woman who spoke little English and was too emabarrassed to even try. We saw before us a buffet of traditional Japanese food and were encouraged to eat up. They were amazed that we could use chopsticks, though I fumbled badly with mine. We brought him beer and he gave us fresh fruit. Gift giving is a huge deal in Japan and I wish that we had brought more American gifts to give him.

He has a bed. We were told that most Japanese sleep on futons, which are nothing like the futons in America. These are small mattresses on the floor. Think of the mattress on a cot. So apparently the Japanese slept on futons well before the invention of the modern bed because now they all have beds. Even during our lessons I see my students sitting on them and I fume. These futons lay on the floor on a room made of woven straw (tatami) or something. It is hard and very uncomfortable and if we don't air them out often bugs will invade our tiny apartment which can barely fit me and Jed let alone an army of insects. Due to my intense phobia of bugs and all things creepy crawly, I air the futons out regularly, though not often enough. They need to be stripped and beaten (like any good hooker) (joking!) while we vaccuum the mats and then it all has to be reassembled. I hate it with a passion and cannot wait to burn these heinous things. My point being that our lovely neighbor was shocked to hear that we had to sleep on futons. I was shocked that we had to sleep on them too.

Our neighbor is wonderful and he even offered us use of his car, a land rover or something amazing. Jed said that he could borrow our bicycles anytime since he did not have one.

Anyway, we finally met a neighbor and I thought that would be a fun story to share. He seems to be eager to hang out with us and so I am sure he will show us a Japan we would never otherwise see. Stay tuned for more.......

Posted by karen at 06:46 AM | Comments (5)

August 04, 2004

Say Wha...t?

We have been here nearly two months now, and the job has many benefits. One of the biggest benefits, for me, is listening to some of the mistakes my students make, or mistakes that I make in listening to them or trying really hard to define something with limited words.

I feel like Will Ferrel when he plays Alex Trebek on Celebrity Jeopardy. Seemingly ridiculously easy topics become infuriatingly impossible. However, these mistakes keep me employed, entertained and feeling smart, though slightly guilty. Let's laugh with them all together...

*Until about a week ago, when I asked my students what they liked to do, I kept hearing THIS CENTURY. I thought it was so wierd that an entire country liked to describe what they did in terms of a century. I finally realized they were saying RECENTLY.

*I asked one student to describe his girlfriend. He replied "She has short hair. She looks like a boy."

*I asked a student where he wanted to vacation and why. He replied, "I want to go to Iran because I like hot places and I like to sea dive."

*In a role play exercise, I assigned one person to play his favorite baseball player Hadeki Matsui. The other student was her favorite actress, Meg Ryan. They were supposed to discuss what they wanted to do and he asked right away, "Meg Ryan will you marry me?" She said yes.

*One woman said her favorite country was Switzerland because it had delicious cheese.

*Germany is a very popular destination for many Japanese. They all say, "I went to German."

*This is one of my personal favorites...I had an early morning lesson with two business men. Compliments are not common in Japan and I decided to teach a lesson on that subject. I asked them to compliment eachother. The first man said, "Your face color is brilliant." The other responded by saying, "Your face is in excellent condition."

*When a student has a difficult time grasping the concept of our excersise, I say an example and try to have them repeat simply by saying REPEAT. All they can do is repeat REPEAT.

*One morning my students were asked to describe their families. One man, overjoyed, exclaimed, "My sister just had a baby girl! I'm an aunt! I'm an aunt!"

*Canada seems to be an object of fantasy for many Japanese. Tired of hearing people's dreams of going to Canada for the 'delicious food' I decided to inquire what kind of delicious food they were hoping to find in Canada. My student replied, "I want to eat big beef!"

*Another student wanted to go to Canada because, "I would be able to eat pancakes with maple syrup and metal." I never uncovered what he was trying to say.

*I had a woman who had a 10 day old baby. This was her second lesson of the day and when asked why she wanted to study English, she said 'for fun.' She had two other children ages 2 and 3. She breast fed this baby during our lesson and when she wasn't manipulating her boob on camera, the baby lay behind her on her bed with her one arm stretched back to make sure it wasn't going to fall off. The closest I could gather of her other children's names were Coma and Lazy. Her priorities seem awfully wonky.

*A woman told me she wanted to go to Australia because "I want to hug the koala and fight the kangaroo."

And finally...

*I had two students in one day, different classes named Osamu and Sadamu. Sadamu never showed up, he must be hiding.

Stay tuned for more updates as I am sure these miscommunications will continue.....

Posted by karen at 07:07 AM | Comments (1)