Spending the rest of my time reading at my desk to recharge is all fine and dandy, but it results in me going through books like crazy. To slow down the pace a little, I decided to start a bit of crochet work. The problem is acquiring yarn to work with. The local department store has *some* yarn, but only in skeins of about 1oz. apiece, and in a very limited selection of colors. Cotton crochet thread for more delicate work has an even more restricted range of colors. I looked up the nearest yarn shop in the phone book, but when I went to check it out, it was closed. The sign on the door was written in calligraphy, and thus difficult to decipher, but I believe it stated that the shop was closed due to a fire. There are other yarn shops listed in the yellow pages, but mostly in other cities, so I won't be able to go check them out until the weekend. (Oh, well, Thursday and Friday are my busiest days anyway.)
Teaching a class that has students of very different levels is tricky. One of my classes today was about writing; the students were assigned to write a one-paragraph essay. Some students finished in about fifteen minutes, while some only had a couple of short sentences by the end of the hour. One girl wrote about three paragraphs and still finished early. I suppose the upside is that we were working in the language lab, which is essentially a multimedia computer lab, so the ones who finished early could occupy themselves playing solitaire on the computer. I felt bad, though, because I know I should offer more challenges to students who are high achievers...but they were already writing longer paragraphs and using more sophisticated vocabulary than the other students, so just telling them to write more seems unfair. One girl who finished very quickly immediately turned to start helping the girl next to her, doing things like pointing out structures in the example I gave them that could be modified to convey what she wanted to say. That was kind of her, but I also wouldn't feel right asking her to do the same thing every week, especially when there are already two teachers in the room to answer questions and give pointers.
One amusing incident...there was one girl goofing off instead of trying to write, and I countered her excuse with, "Oh, no no no no..." She later told me that her family name is "Nono."
Yesterday I ordered an application for the Japanese Proficiency Test that's given in December. (The deadline to apply is apparently this Sunday.) I'm thinking of applying to take the level 1 (hardest) proficiency test, assuming I can get all the materials in the mail in time. I already passed level 3 years ago, and the level 2 problems we studied at JCMU were a breeze, but I hear there's a large gap in difficulty between level 2 and level 1. We'll see how that turns out.