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Amparo Bertram

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05:45 pm: What accent do you have?
My first period class was apparently canceled due to a kanji exam that was postponed from yesterday. Not that anyone bothered to tell me. I got kind of suspicious when my team teacher didn't go ahead to the classroom as usual, but he's done that a couple times before, so I shrugged and walked to the classroom. It was locked, with no students anywhere around. I waited a minute or so and went back to the faculty room, and *then* my team teacher said, "Oh, sorry, no class today." Thanks.

My guest lesson went reasonably well. One thing that kind of irritates me is that Japanese teachers have really low expectations for their students when it comes to English. (I don't know if they say similar things about other subjects.) As I was walking to the classroom, the team teacher said, "The students don't like...they hate English, so if they can just have a good time with you, that's fine."

I started off with the introduction activity. I wrote ten true/false statements about myself on the board. The students, broken up into teams, had to try to guess whether each statement was true or false. I started with the first team, reading the first statement and asking them "true" or "false," accompanying each word with the Japanese hand gesture (a circle for true, an X for false). I was standing right in front of the students, so I could hear one of them in the group explaining to the others what they were supposed to do. As they pondered, the team teacher spoke up, "They don't know what to do, so I should tell them in Japanese." Way to trust in their abilities. ^_^;

I just urged them to decide on an answer, repeating "true" or "false" with hand gestures, and they finally agreed on a response. Once I wrote their answer on the board, the rest of the class could clearly tell what was expected of them, and soon they were all enthusiastically yelling out "true" or "false." I find that it's really common for Japanese teachers to want to translate things immediately, thinking the English is "too hard" for the students, but I also find that most of the time the students can figure things out for themselves if given little hints like hand gestures...and if it's clear they're not going to be spoon-fed the answer in Japanese.

After school, several students actually showed up for English club for a change. They used the opportunity to beg me to say something in Japanese "because it's a shame you went to all the trouble to learn it yet we never hear you use it." They didn't stop at that, however; they wanted to get me to say something in the local dialect, Kansai-ben.

Student A: Say wakarahen ("I don't know").
Student B: Say wakarahen wa.
Me: <snicker>
<students lay the accent on thick>
Student A: Say wakaraheeen wa.
Student B: Say wakarrrrahen wa.
Me: <convulses with laughter>

They wanted to know what accent I picked up with my Japanese and asked where I learned it. I told them I learned it in Niigata, but that I only learned to read there, not to speak. I never spoke more than a couple words at a time until I went to JCMU last year.

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[User Picture]
From:melf42
Date:February 3rd, 2005 05:02 am (UTC)
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wakaraheeen wa

LOL!!! So, were they impressed by your Japanese? Do they have any idea how well you can understand it? I went to the hiroshima-ben workshop at the last conference, which includes a lot of kansai-ben... I have trouble throwing it into regular conversation, though. All my kids say wakaran, dekin and such for negatives and I think I'll just sound like a kid if I say it. Though I'm told it sells cars better.

I also find that most of the time the students can figure things out for themselves if given little hints like hand gestures

This is so true, even for elementary kids. I'm surprised at his attitude. My team teacher is funny, though. If they don't understand my explanation, he explains the same thing again... in English. Not surprisingly, they get his English (which I think is harder to understand) better. He usually doesn't try to translate until the kids are totally baffled.
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:February 3rd, 2005 12:31 pm (UTC)
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So, were they impressed by your Japanese?

Every Japanese person is impressed by my Japanese, even if I do nothing but smile and nod. If I manage to say as much as a single word, they gasp in amazement. Literally.

Yesterday a teacher asked me to translate some test directions into English for a Chinese student who doesn't know any Japanese. Then he told me that if I had any trouble, I should ask the teacher next to me, and he proceeded to explain the meaning of a "hard" word...without even asking me whether I knew it or not. He just assumed I would have a really hard time. I wanted to say, dude, translating written things into English is my STRONG point. But no matter how many hours I spend reading novels at my desk, no one believes it.
[User Picture]
From:sara_tanaquil
Date:February 3rd, 2005 08:22 am (UTC)
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They wanted to know what accent I picked up with my Japanese and asked where I learned it. I told them I learned it in Niigata, but that I only learned to read there, not to speak. I never spoke more than a couple words at a time until I went to JCMU last year.

I find that encouraging, since my speaking ability sucks so royally, having no one at all to practice with. ^-^
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:February 3rd, 2005 03:03 pm (UTC)
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I'm horrible at speaking. I'm shy in general (no, really) and trying to speak in a foreign language makes it worse. I simply can't think fast enough to come up with the right words in time to fit smoothly into a conversation. I wind up staring blankly a lot. Either that, or starting a sentence and then trailing off because I don't know how to end it.
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