Well, it’s after midnight, so I’m writing my Monday post instead of resting. Don’t worry, I’ll hit the hay soon after hitting the “Publish” button.
First a little catch up. Some of you know, my girlfriend works 24/7 with a moderate number of days off scattered through the month. Friday and Saturday she had two days off in a row, so she came to town to see her parents and me. I took Friday off and spent every waking moment – including shorting sleep to create more waking moments – with her and/or her parents. Friday her father taught me how to play shakuhachi (尺八) in exchange for English lessons. The joke is on him here, because I would gladly teach him English for free. I get to build a relationship with him and learn more about culture and art. My girlfriend and I spent some time alone watching Nicholas Nickleby, based on the Dickens novel. Although, she lived in London for awhile, it was not in the 1830s, so I translated a lot for her. I particularly wanted her to here the speech where Nicholas professes his love to Madeleine because the bit about, “…you are so admirably strong and able.”, “I am so tired of being strong.”, paralleled a recent cell phone email. We also caught a Tanabata (七夕) celebration Saturday night in Matsusaka (松阪). If I am feeling energetic and kind, I’ll write another post about why this July 7th celebration was held in early August.
Onto today’s topic: I arose early Sunday, having slept soundly after the flurry of activity the previous two days, and got to work on final polishing for the afternoon seminar. Mari, another teacher, joined me to instruct a group of 24 junior high and high school students who are going to Australia for 10 days. They are supposed to study English intensively, while staying in people’s homes. We were asked to teach them things to give them confidence and help them adjust. I chose to cover several topics, including:
- Importance of speed and posture in communication
- Handshakes – firmness, timing, effect on relations
- Liaison (i.e., “I want to”, “I wanto”, “I wanna”)
- Aussie slang (just a touch, since I’m no expert)
- Daily life phrases
- Illness/Emergency phrases
- Self-intro prep and answering questions about Japan prep
- Don’t waste this opportunity speech
I was disappointed by how unresponsive the kids were, since I was told they were the cream of the crop and highly motivated. Of course, I was not surprised, since I have worked with junior high kids and took pains to create a job description to avoid them. Also, there were the complicating factors of being in the grand hall at the community center and having their parents seated behind them.
We recorded CDs of all the phrases, so we hope the kids will drill themselves before the trip. I tried to enforce the value of being able to respond to daily questions without need to ponder the answers.
It was definitely a blessing having Mari involved, since I was on the backside of a dreamlike weekend. She provided a lot of insight for the students, that I would have neglected. We got tins of biscuits from Columbin and a day off during the week for our efforts.
We spent the evening showing a new high school teacher around the area. She’s a Chem and Math graduate who is hoping to pursue an MD to study Epidemiology. Hopefully she will join our regular social group.