Teaching In Socks

November 5, 2008, 5:02 pm
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For those of you awaiting an aftermath debriefing; Halloween went well this year. I will say though, magic powers or not, me in cape running a classroom with seven children of varying age and English ability is technically not a fair fight. I was able to hold down the fort with minimal damage and convy ample Halloween knowledge, but entropy won its battles. Duct tape was required for minimal repairs, candy was consumed and dropped on the floor, and at times I felt like the broken shell of a teenage wizard.

Also, if you thought being the only white guy in town makes me stand out, imagine what happens when I put on a Harry Potter costume. I am certain the local chiropractors were busy last weekend;  whiplash was inflicted on several innocent bystanders. In retrospect, the ape was a great marketing ploy, perhaps I should I wear the cape at work every day.

Halloween quickly faded to the election this year, even in Japan. If you had asked me at the beginning of this week to take an over/under on the number of times I would have to bravely hold back giggling as someone mispronounced “election” in conversation, I would have taken the over. Seriously, you could have put the bar at fifty times and I’m still taking the over for a number of reasons.

fight obama?!

fight obama?!

Reason number one is that for a change, it appears the Japanese are interested in an election. Albeit, not their own, but still people followed what was going on with some intensity.  Furthermore, I more fully understand the nature of the “r”-“l” confusion. It’s not a mental issue, rather, there is no “l” sound in the Japanese alphabet. In many ways, while I derive humor from it, this impresses me. The Japanese are so phonically cool they don’t even need an “l” sound. This linguistic efficiency is something I marvel at, even if it does make my last name “Reirry”.

So far, I have only encountered the word in question once, and it was so quick I wasn’t able to savor the maturity diliema I had hoped for. My visions of constant sophomoric mayhem have not materialized. Upon closer review, I think history may have tipped the nation off though. People are eager to speak to me about the election, but the avoid using the word at all cost. “Voted”, “Chosen”, and “Picked” are amply substituted in place of any variation of elected. I guess I’ll have to get my jollies the next time someone instructs me to “clap my hands”.

(Also, a little election factoid: Obama means “little beach” in Nihongo and McCain…well its phonetic cousin, “makeru” (mahkay-ru) means “loser”. No joke.)

Speaking of bad words, for those of you in the “First time a student drops a curse word in Ted’s class pool” the winning date was November Fourth!

The goal of this particular lesson was to teach the student about exclamations such as “oops!” “oww” or “ugh!”. I suppose this particular lesson begs for an injection of crude and foul words, but at the time this detail eluded me. I attempted to to elicit such a response by showing a high-level student a picture of someone dropping a glass of red wine on a white carpet, and asked them what this person might say. Her response was swift, “Shit!”.

I nearly fell out of my chair laughing. I appreciated the cultural accuracy. Having previously lived abroad, she knew what she was doing, and the humor was a nice break in the class. Also, I was happy that my first encounter with profanity in my class room didn’t involve me having to invoke the notorious, Forsyth School  "Appropriate versus Inappropriate" lecture. I don’t think I’ve developed the proper philosophical palette, nor cynicism for fun that is required to deliver it properly.


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