Tuesday, April 27, 2004
hi, i'm the entertainment
The job of teaching the English language here in Japan sometimes is as much about being the object of amusement as it about being a "teacher". Japanese people study English for a variety of reasons, but a high proportion of the students at most English schools aren't shy about the fact that they find meeting gaijin to be of all things...
I'm still dreading the day that my company will someday mandate that I wear a clown suit, completely with hat and red honkin' nose. I guess that wouldn't be so bad... the hat, that is.
Case in point was a lesson a couple of days with a class that would be probably every geeky wonderbread asianophile's dream:
-Ms. S, the fashion model
-Ms. A, the high school student
-Ms. M, the junior high school student
All jokes about colored hair and uniforms aside, I'm usually not bothered at all by having to teach an all-female class - the main reason being that (sadly) the predominant number of strong English students we have are female. Insert your snide comments about the intelligence of men in the box below.
The day's lesson happened to a simple application of "have", "like", and "want" such as "I don't have a dog. I like dogs. I want to have a dog." The class was practicing asking questions of each other when Ms. S, ambushed me with the question...
Ms. S: "Garrett... you don't have a Japanese girlfriend. Do you like Japanese girls?"
Ms. S. just gave me a big smile, with her impossibly white and straight teeth. The problem with this question is that in Japanese, people often use the words suki (often translated "like") and aishiteru (often translated "love") interchangeably to convey romantic interest. Hence the statement, I like you as a friend, but I don't love you is pretty damn confusing to a beginning Japanese student of English. And I sure as heck didn't have the time to give a dissertation to them about the difference in English... they wouldn't have understood anyways.
In a matter of seconds, my brain quickly cranked out the possible outcomes to the question:
So what did I do? It should be obvious.
As I sat there with a stupid look on face in awkward silence, my three students turned and started giggling with each other. I usually don't get flustered that often when I'm teaching, but they had done it and they were enjoying it. Evil. Lord, somebody cue the carnival music now...
Lucky for me, Ms. M., the little junior higher, saved me further humiliation. Sorta.
Ms. M: "You don't know? Teacher Garrett has a girlfriend in America."
Whew. Nice one, kid. Save the teacher from embarassment!
Ms. M: "...and he likes all Japan peoples, boys and girls."
Uhhh... riiiiight. So now, I'm bisexual. Sometimes you just gotta cut your losses and run...
Me: "Anywaaaaays... if could please turn to page blah blah in your textbook..."
Yep... clown suit. That's what I should be wearing...
things ain't the same
Some friends at work and I were recently talking about how hip.hop just isn't as good as it used to be. Maybe I'm starting to enter the sour old geezer stage of my musical tastes, but I find I just don't like a lot of the new stuff that comes out these days... like 90% of it all is just booty-shaking craaaaaaaaap.
It's said that "keepin' it real" is such a trivial expression these days.
And I ain't the only one that feels that way... Mr. Akito wrote a great summary of the current state of the art of hip.hop... read it.
I was a fiend before I became a teen. I melt the microphone instead of cones of ice cream...
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