Thursday, August 27, 2009

Watashi wa eigo no kyoushi desu!

I finally began teaching this week! This was a relief--even though before I had no classes, I was still expected to be at school every day, and it was a struggle to keep busy, to say the least. I also felt pretty awkward and useless, stationed cluelessly at my desk while all the other teachers rushed around. So I feel more a part of the school now, although I'm certainly not treated like an ordinary teacher. The students make me feel like a rock star! Now I know what it's like to be a certain male professor at Sarah Lawrence College, only this attention is for like, being blonde as opposed to offering piercing literary insight into the human condition. I'll take what I can get.

So for this first week, I had to give a self-introduction lesson to all the first-year high school students (the equivalent of American tenth-graders.) By Friday, I'll have done more or less the same lesson nine times. (Remember Ferris Bueller? "Nine times?" "Nine times.") The benefit is that it allows me to get a strong sense of what works and what doesn't, but it also means the first class' students are guinea pigs and the last are TOTALLY LUCKY because by then my lesson is PERFECTION.

I structured the lesson as a Q&A session, putting the students in groups and having them come up with questions to ask me. Please enjoy a sampling of their work:
  • How many dates do you go on in a week?
  • How long is your skirt? (I really didn't understand this one, since the length of my skirt was visible to everyone.)
  • Do you love me?
  • Who is the most handsome in the class?
  • Has anyone told you that you look like Hermione from Harry Potter? (I have been asked this, seriously, in EVERY class. I have no idea.)
  • Is your hair natural?

So, pretty adorable so far. The cutest thing, though, happened outside of class. In Japan, high school students have a brief period every day in which they are expected to clean the school. (Imagine a school proposing this in America: can't you just hear the outraged screams of the parents already?) Today, three girls approached me and asked if I knew where the Language Lab is. I do, but I let them lead me there because they clearly wanted me to go with them. I followed them into the room to see no less than thirty third-year girls excitedly waiting for me. I made small talk with them for a bit until one girl with excellent English, who was clearly the planner of this event, asked me if I would come every day.

"Sure," I said.

"Tomodatchi!!!!" she cried, (it means friends) and everyone started clapping.

Oh man.

Though the difficulty of getting through each day through a combination of the slowest spoken English possible, excessive smiling, frantic flipping through Japanese dictionaries, and mime has been challenging to the point of making my eyes twitch involuntarily (yes, really), if moments this hilarious keep happening, I'm going to love teaching in Japan.

Oh, and I've trained more or less the entire school to yell "Peace out!" at me whenever I leave a classroom.


  1. The "peace out" thing is hilarious. So now you have to learn to say "peace out" in Japanese.

  2. In Japan, at least, it sounds like blondes really do have more fun!

  3. It sounds great, although frustrating at times I'm sure. Enjoy every moment.

  4. Love it. Glad to hear you're shaping the minds of Japan's future.

    Peace out indeed!

  5. Oh man, Jonathan must be loving this.

  6. Chris, the girl students blow kisses at Jonathan wherever he goes.

  7. Nope, Jonathan is in a different school, but we both teach first-year high school students.

  8. And this is how we will finally conquer Japan.

  9. Dude you guys totally improved on my self-intro! That sounds fun as hell.

  10. Mike, I totally might have stolen my idea from your blog. Just saying, it's possible.