Taking the world less travelled

Tales from Middle School in Japan

Posted by on Mar 13, 2010 in Life | 5 comments

In all my schools there are probably only two kids that I would consider problem children. Which means I’m pretty lucky. And the two of them aren’t really problems at all. They are both in the same class, a grade 7 class. One just sits there and does nothing. At first I thought he would be a real class disrupter, but really all he does is sit there – he doesn’t stand up, he doesn’t do any work, he doesn’t even get his books out. So, he isn’t really a disturbing force.

The other boy. Oh, the other boy. I wish I could enforce a bit more discipline in the class, but it’s not my job… Let me say something about the teacher. I think she is a lovely person but a lousy teacher. She doesn’t know how to control the class. I can’t say I’m any better, I haven’t really been tested. But her classes are always a bit rowdy. She teachers at another school with a friend of mine and she says that the teacher is the same there – not in control of her class.

Never the less, this student is really disruptive. His name is Bob – he told me that once when I asked what his name was and he regrets it now because that’s what I call him. Yesterday he was particularly charming. He asked me, “do you like….?” What followed was a word that I knew was a bad word in Japanese -what else could it be? It also had the “nyuu” in there, like from “gyuunyuu” – milk – and also in the word for “breast cancer” etc, so I knew it was something to do with the breast area. I was hoping milk, but I knew it wasn’t. Or maybe it was?…

I said, “I don’t know.”
He turned to his friends, and said in Japanese, “she doesn’t know what it means.”
So I said, “What is that?” Perhaps I shouldn’t have, but hey, at least he was talking English.
“It’s..” he said, and made a really weird gesture… He put his hands to his chest and wriggled his fingers, like his nipples had tentacles. I’m still not really sure what he/it means, so I just said,
“Oh, I see. Do you like it?”
“Yes I do.”

Ah, good times. Interaction. Better than most of the time when he just talks about some random crap, I’m convinced he’s just rambling random words, interrupting the class with outbursts, or laughing at me like a bit of a psycho. Charming child.

Today he put some toilet paper over one lens of his glasses. and was yelling out “It stinks!” Over and over again. I asked him after class, “Did you fart?” Of course he didn’t understand, so he just started his loud psycho laugh.

Grade 2 (8) is much better. There are a couple of boys in class that make it fun without really being disruptive.

First they had a short test, which involved writing the present,past and um… tenses of some words. Such as ride, rode, riding. I was “helping” one boy. He really didn’t know anything, so I said, “ing is easy” and so he wrote down all the words in ing. Then I was helping him with the Japanese translation. I thought he would know “read” as I’m sure my students in six grade know that word, and they definitely learn it in grade 7. So I pointed to it. He didn’t know. I quickly mimicked reading a book. He and a couple of other boys laughed loud and were like “Thank you Carlie! You are so kind.” Later, after the test was over, I looked and saw he wrote “open”. Because I opened a book. Oh dear.

Then they had a 5min check of the previous lesson’s work. One of the words was “storm” and they had to translate it into Japanese – arashi. They were saying, “What’s the third word? Is it tornado?”

I said, “No, it’s storm.”
“Is it hurricane?”
“No. It’s Matsumoto Jun.”
Then they asked the teacher if they would get it correct if they wrote that on the test.

There is one boy who I like a lot because he is always saying “Carlie is so nice, right sensei?” He he. I give him A+

We did some new words in the text book but the boys were skipping ahead to the next page’s words such as “Garbage” and “Waste”.
One boy was saying “people are garbage” in Japanese, I turned to him and said in English, “You are garbage.” The class laughed (or were like, what did she say?) and the boy turned around to cry. He was only joking, of course. And the boy next to him was saying “You are waste.” While I guess “you are waste” is correct, I taught him “you are a waste” because that sounds a bit more natural to me. Ah, very educational. I thought perhaps I had gone too far, but the teacher turns around and said to me that I did a good job. Ha. Oh dear.

And thus, my adventures of entertaining myself in the classroom. I am a tape recorder at middle school, and my attempts thus far to get out of that status have not been successful. I find the boys very entertaining in class and the girls are fun out of class.


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  1. pachipachi

    Good luck handling that Bob kid. He seems to be a real annoyance.

  2. Theresa

    Well, it makes me glad I only teach adults! You must really have patience to deal with the youngsters sometimes. I have a Japanese girlfriend who teaches 6th grade and she says that teachers are not allowed to discipline the children after first grade. They are supposed to have learned their manners by then, so she just stands up and teaches. The children can take out a book or not take out a book, pay attention or not, etc. Do you find this to be true? Also, do the children have difficulty saying your name? Some of my adult students still have trouble with that ‘rl’ combination.

    • GoddessCarlie

      Well, my kids are all fairy well behaved (compared to what I remember about school!) but the teachers do discipline the kids. I teach at schools with small amounts of kids, I don’t know if that makes a difference, but if I child is being a problem I notice that the teacher sits down and talks with the student. When a whole class is playing up, teachers will discipline the class. Hell, even one teacher yells at the kids when they are barely doing anything wrong.

      As for my name, maybe if I was american, but as an Australian I actually pronounce my name Ka-li- just like the Japanese pronounce it. Actually when I was new here I had to really pronounce the “r” sound for the americans to understand what my name is :D

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