I thought I'd mention a couple challenges about being an ALT. The first one is trying to correct student writing that is almost--but not quite--right. Of course, the sentences that are pure incomprehensible gibberish are hard too, but for those I can just put a question mark and take off points. In contrast, cases where the sentence is technically correct yet doesn't fit the context can be quite puzzling, because I feel the need to write something constructive.
For example: In a story detailing the tragic romance between a teacher and high school student, just at the point where it looks like they might start dating, the teacher character says, "Can you go without me?" I had to ponder that one for some time before I figured out that the student meant "Will you go out with me?"
Today in class, the students were supposed to write questions that might be asked at an interview. One student came up with: "Please tell me how to use your money." ...Okay, grammatically correct, but not what one might expect to hear from an interviewer. Luckily, in this case, I had overheard her say in Japanese what she intended to write, which was "Please tell me how you handle money."
Then there's the challenge of trying to write on the board what the team teacher is dictating when you can't actually figure out what is being said, without embarrassing the teacher by pointing out that the pronunciation is wrong. During a class in which I was writing the names of famous people on the board, I had this exchange:
Teacher: The swimmer, Soap.
Me: ...? ←never pays much attention to sports
Teacher: The Olympic champion swimmer, Ian Soap.
Me: <hears the faint tinkle of a bell> Ah, Ian Thorpe. <hopes desperately that the guess is correct>
I was invited to work for a few more minutes on my yukata today, so I took the opportunity to snap some pictures of what I've gotten done so far. (The sewing teacher then proceeded to take some pictures of me working on it.) Apparently I hold the fabric incorrectly when I hem...it's supposed to be held horizontally, allowing you to sew from right to left, whereas I hold it vertically (the same way I hold yarn when I crochet) and work bottom to top.
After I finished my last class of the day, I got really sleepy. To prevent myself from collapsing in a doze at my desk, I started munching on the leftover Halloween chocolate that's been sitting in my desk drawer. When I did so, I discovered something that, as far as I'm concerned, really takes the cake when it comes to bizarre candy: Melon Choco. Now, Japan has something called Melon Bread that is essentially sweet bread in the shape of half a melon; it doesn't actually taste like melon. I thought perhaps this chocolate would be similar. Yet to my surprise, it was exactly what it promised, chocolate that looked and tasted like cantaloupe.
What will they think of next?