Teaching In Socks

Aristotelian junk and other observations
August 20, 2008, 2:59 pm
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Last week I had two days of intense training in Osaka. Two, eight hour days of company brainwashing delivered to me in a binders worth of literature and a litany of British-accented training exercises(unfortunately, nothing territorial army related). By brainwashing, I mean we kind of played kid games for half a day and pretended to know what we were doing cramped in a tiny room in a tiny office for the remainder. It was generally a good group  of people and there was minimal violence to report.

While I didn’t get to see much of Osaka, the small part I did venture into was very engaging. It was like New York, but if the majority of New York still loved reggae music. They love Reggae music here.

However, I’m glad I’m not currently placed there. It would be a lot to handle and I fear I would succumb to the fairly tempting foreigner community and provision the city provides without building up a basic knowledge of anything inherently Japanese. Frankly, I think this would be a tragedy.

I enjoy that fact that when I attempt to procure a cell phone in Ako, it requires most of the store’s staff (5-6 people) and a phone call to a DoCoMo employed Translator only to have me walking out the door an hour later with a phone I don’t know how to use (and this was no way at the fault of their efforts). Quick aside: I tshould be noted, that I did I do learn that I can charge things to my phone bill at the convenience store and other retail outlets simply by placing my phone on top a little pad on the counter. I’ll be sure to document in detail the brilliant disaster this will inevitably inspire and what I have accidentally purchased once it happens– feel free to start a pool of when and what in the comments section of this post (I’m putting 500 yen on womens stockings and August 25th, it’s just a hunch).

Linguistically, it’s nice to be isolated. I think it’s important that while I’m teaching a language, I also happen to be learning a language myself. It’s starting to provide insights, and at some point, it might even improve the way I teach.

I already realized, for example, that I had been incapable of asking a simple question in English.  I often complicated a query by generating the question in a, “What do you think…” or “When do you think…” format as opposed to the using the simple “When” or “What” most intelligent people enjoy.

Perhaps I’m trying to make my questions sound more interesting, or maybe I’ve decided everything opinion and conjecture and I like to subtly recognize that in my speech. It might even be a friendly Midwestern habit of making sure we ask questions in a polite, non-binding manner. Regardless, it muddles up the question with an unnecessary word or two and rightly confuses the hell out of Japanese people.

They just don’t do that, nor do they understand why someone would. Economy of language is as highly prized as the family shrine. You want to know where the luggage is? you simply say, “Luggage is where?” (Nimotsu-wa doko dess-ka, for those scoring at home). It’s quite brilliant. At leats more brilliant than an egregiously overextended passion for reggae music.


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