Friday, May 30, 2014

I've Got a Girlfriend

Last week I taught around 20 lessons and as always had a great time.  I enjoy talking with kids and feel I have developed a close relationship with them that goes beyond just work and into leaving a lasting impression on children.  Friday I was approached in the toilet of all places by a very affable boy who is a 3rd grade junior high student.  In the restroom Japanese dudes often chat me up for some strange reason.  This includes kids and adults.  It's like the toilet is the hang out location and you can chat freely.  So this boy comes up to me while I am in mid stream and says "Sensei.  Sensei.  Look at this.  Take a look, take a look."  He held in his hands a tiny little letter that some girl had scrawled out a message on with cute pictures and cute characters.  The message was addressed to him and signed by another girl in his class.

At this point most people would think this is normal but in Japan it's really strange to talk about lovers, boyfriends/girlfriends etc..  So this kid coming up to me while I am taking a whiz in the toilet was quite odd.  But he was beaming.  So after handling business he talked to me about his girl and that he was going to ask her out after receiving this love letter from her.  He was so bright and so happy.  I hope his romance takes root and he can be happy with her.   I just hope he can contain his happiness because when I left him he looked like he was heading off to space on the trip of a lifetime!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Swarmed By Children

Teaching English in Japan is such an awesome experience.  Every day kids do some of the craziest and funniest stuff you will witness.  I am constantly bombarded by kids trying to get me to sign their notebooks, draw pictures for them, or just talk with them in English or Japanese.  Every time I visit an elementary school it's like being a member of One Direction and getting attacked by 200-300 kids trying their best to grab your attention.

Sometimes it's fun and happy attention.  Kids will come up randomly and say "My name is Tanaka Kumi.  What's your name?"  Or "何人ですか。” (What's your nationality?)  I often answer them and it's really fund leaving kids with a great impression of westerners and how energetic, happy and caring we can be.  I want kids to know that no matter what they have a friend in me.

Well some kids take that to heart and before long, bony fingers go plunging for your bum old, or little hands try to grab your package.  Often times kids run all over you and try to tickle you.  Most of the times its playful and if you are skilled you can nip it in the bud from the get go by announcing "NO TOUCHING MY PRIVATES!!!"  Or something like that in a big, clear voice with a powerful connotation.  Kids get they've crossed the line and most times they will stop.

But some kids, let's call them the future perverts and stalkers of Japan, they just won't stop regardless of what you do.  It's these kids that make a day really tough.  You'll be strutting down the hallway and all of a sudden bam, a finger goes right up your butt hole.  Or they'll smack you in the sensitive regions leaving you in pain.  Female colleagues often have their breasts stroked, flummoxed, flipped, pinched and so on.  Kids are of course curious but these kids of behaviors have to stop.

I make it a point that after I tell a kid to stop twice and they continue to take them to the teachers room, tell their homeroom teacher what that kid did and then drag them into the principal's office as well.  Usually that stops it cold turkey and the days can go on freely.

But all in all I have to say that barring the sexual harassment issues, days at elementary schools are amazingly fun, exciting, and go by in a flash because you are constantly doing something.  I really am quite happy to be teaching in Japan.  I just wished I could find a position of a permanent nature.  Most teaching jobs for foreigners are contract work with the longest contracts lasting 5 years.  I really want to keep doing this job forever and am always on the lookout for a job that will allow me to retired being swarmed by kids in school!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Hallelujah: Classes Cancelled

Weekly I teach anywhere from 15-25 lessons at 8 different schools.  I am a floater of sorts, going from this school to that with primary teaching duties at two junior high schools and then secondary teaching at elementary schools.  Needless-to-say it's seldom that I get a break from all the chaos and hustle and bustle of teaching English to kids.

But one word that sends satisfaction to my soul on the rare occasion that it occurs is "canceled."  This one word sets off sparks of a Disney World rocketry exhibition in this old head of mine.  Today was one of those rare moments.  The head teacher at this particular school came up and said, "Mr. Big Booger, today your lessons have been cancelled due to upcoming mid-term tests."  I replied with a feigned act of sadness saying pretty much "That's too bad."

Deep down I was elated.  It meant I could spend some time prepping for this week's lessons, make some flash cards, finish a "Ask a Friend" project I am doing, study for a Teacher Knowledge Test coming up at the end of May and so on.  I must say though that I do miss seeing the kids when my classes are cancelled and time does seem to ooze by doggedly slow but I do get a chance to catch up on many items and take advantage.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Nip It in the Bud

In schools there's never a dull moment when you are teaching with teenage Japanese children.  Today I was teaching a lesson on  the following pattern:

"Do you like ~?"   Why? /Why not?
With the answer being:

"I like ~ because it is/they are ~"

 I had taught the students several fruit names from pomegranate to blackberry and words about taste like disgusting, tasty, delicious, and yummy.  After teaching those words, I then gave them a worksheet and they went around the room polling their friends and taking notes about what they like and what they don't like using the targeted vocabulary and sentence patterns.

Well one little squirmy, sly and quite intelligent boy who can speak English rather well comes up to me and asks, "Do you like shit?"  Now I could have told him to piss off and scolded him for it, but then I knew by making a scene out of it, this would only add fuel to the fire.  So I just said, "I don't like shit because it is disgusting."  And moved on leaving the kid feeling a bit let down that I didn't overreact and make a scene.

Sometimes teachers have to learn that there are times to address things like bad language and their are times not to.  For me this was the right way to handle it.  If I had made a scene all his friends would have asked him later on and then I would have a shit storm of shitty questions to answer later on in the year.

In essence I have nipped this one in the bud!

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Golden Week With a Beer Machine in Himeji

Taking a break from teaching is often a golden opportunity.  What better time to enjoy a few day off than Golden Week.  Golden Week is a holiday that is celebrated in Japan.  It is typical 2-5 days of holidays around the end of April to the first week of May.  Many Japanese plan vacations at this time and still many others gather with family and friends for relaxing days of barbecue and beers.  My family is of the later variety and we went to Himeji to enjoy beers, barbecues, games and sports together.  It was a really nice time and I drank way too much beer.

In fact my father-in-law purchased a beer tap and we set it up to dispense draft beers.  The device is made by Asahi beer company and uses cans of compressed gas along with a cooling container to dispense cold frothy beer that just flows down as quickly as you can pour it.  That certainly made it much easier to consume alcohol.  By the time the week had finished we had cleared out about 10 liters of beer between three of us.  I had some good times and will treasure this Golden Week as a time of relaxation and enjoyment.

It certainly was a good time with great food and wonderful people.  I won't soon forget Golden Week of 2014.

Check This Out