Wednesday, October 01, 2003
wakari mashita. "I understand" / "Understood."
wakkatta. Informal/plain version of wakari mashita. Often heard grunted by soldiers in response to orders in anime shows.
Local time: About 10:40pm.
So the last couple of days have been quite busy... I've just finished my second day of training at Nishinomiya-Kitaguchi and I've found it to be OK... (city name means lit. "Western Shrine - Northern Pass/Opening"). I and two other teachers (a guy from Baltimore named Tom and the Asian Australian named Caroline) are all be trained simultaneously by one teacher. We spend a lot of talking about teach techniques, talking about classroom theory, talking about the stages of the lesson, talking about the best way to correct students... talking talking talking. You get the idea.
I don't blame our trainer, she's a nice person, I guess it's just another complaint against the "system" the company has in place. Not to sound full of myself, but I do understand all the material... I can comprehend it intellectually without a problem. The tough part, as any teacher will tell you, is actually the act of teaching itself - interacting with the students and talking with them. I taught my first 3 full lessons today (50 minutes each) and I learned more during teaching those lessons than did during all the other hours and sitting around yapping about teaching theory. Whee.
What does this all mean? I'm not really sure, but I think God perhaps maybe telling me quite plainly that I'd hate normal corporate life. Ah, the evils of slaving away in a profit-seeking, secular institution! Not that's there anything bad with making money, but lets just say my eyes are continually be opened to the subtle shady-ness in some of the practices of my company.
Case in point: Lessons are 50 minutes each, so there's only 10 minutes between each lesson. Often, your planning for a lesson in limited to just those 10 minutes, since class schedules are generated daily and students often call/come in the same and are added last minute to classes. Bear in mind, your students have shelled out a considerable amount of yen-age for the privilege of coming to class... a class with a teacher who's only had 10 minutes of preparation. It's like institutionalized procrastination! Haha.
Now I of course am the king of procrastination, but my conditioned Chinese work ethic grates against the fact that these poor people have shelled out hard-earned money to get sometimes a half-baked lesson. To be fair, I do teach from a textbook, with clearly divided lessons and objectives, but still... if you paid money to attend a class, wouldn't you want a teacher who prepared at least 30-60 minutes for your class, not 10?
Like, I said... shady money-making company motives. I understand it... maybe even tolerate it... but I don't think I approve of it. Sure, it's in the interest of the company to have teachers constantly teaching classes, not planning... the more classes they can offer, the more students they can take... the more students that come = more $$$. The bling bling rules all.
Despite the grind of being a company cog, the saving grace these past two days have been all the Japanese students I've had. Classes really are diverse and cross pretty much every division of life here in Japan - I've taught high schoolers, university students, housewives, business men, science teachers, grocery store clerks... I find it fascinating just to hear about their lives and their experiences as the inhabitants/shapers of Japanese culture. My favorite part of the lesson is usually the first 10-15 minutes, the warm-up/introduction section... that's when I get to really talk to the students and when they get to ask me questions. As a new teacher, they're of course interested in where I'm from, life in Seattle/US, hobbies, how I like Japan... regular stuff like that.
My favorite conversation with a young guy, a highschool student, name Yuki.
Me: What's your favorite American music group or singer?
Yuki: Ah... Destiny's Child.
Me: So do you know who Beyonce is?
Yuki: Yes, yes... she is... how do you say...
Yuki: No... ummm.... sexy! Yes, very sexy.
Me: Hahaha... nice...
Tomorrow will be my last day of training and I'll be getting Friday off... yes! Hopefully, I'll be able to kick it with Kian and Michelle this Friday, as I'll be starting work fulltime on Saturday. Right now in my regular schedule, I work mostly evening shifts... better double check for last minute changes. No church on Sunday, unless I can find an early morning service... hrmmm.
Oh yeah... some fun pictures of training day in Osaka this last Monday...
View of Namba area, downtown Osaka, from the skyscraper where NOVA training was at.
Michelle and Kian, at the diner.
Squat-pot! My first one... most toliets I've found here in Japan are Western-style.
G'nite, y'all... until next time.
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