What Not To Say
WNTS 1: "But at school we were told..." - in response to a lesson on polite questions ('would you mind', 'could you possibly', etc). The student THEN proceeded to try and convince me that because at school she'd only been taught one kind of question that I, and the text book, were wrong and that these formal question forms didn't exist.
I resisted pointing out the merits of Japanese schools to her.
WNTS 2: "What does 'offside' mean?" - I can bullshit like the best of them. Actually it's one of my better talents. But COME ON. I don't know everything and some things are past bullshit. For possibly the first time since I've been teaching, I uttered the words: 'I have NO idea'. One of my lovely colleagues somehow overheard me telling her that we should ask him after the lesson. He explained. The student and I now understand.
WNTS 3: "Paris Hilton is my idol." - Luckily (for the student) I didn't have a mouthful of water at the time, or she would have ended up very wet. (I drink water when I'm teaching. Beats coughing when my throat gets dry).
My question had been what famous person would she like to be. My brain quickly tried to come up with the reason why she'd chosen Paris Hilton. But couldn't. And it's rare I can't think on my feet. So I asked her why (in a VERY disbelieving tone). Her answer, because she is rich. I said, yes... but LOTS of famous people are rich. She qualified her answer by adding Paris is beautiful and wears short skirts.
So there you have it.
I asked her what questions she would like to ask Paris, and the first one she came up with was, 'how many boyfriends have you got?'
I adore my students sometimes!!! (For anyone on this planet who doesn't know who Paris Hilton is, go google it yourself.)
WNTS 4: In a true and predictable, I can't think of anything creative or imaginative to say stylee, the majority of my students (in separate classes), when asked to predict the score of the NEXT Japan game (against Croatia) decided that the score will definitely be the same as in the last game.
Of course IF, by some almighty fluke, they are correct, then I'll, er... give them even more homework, or something.
And now for some news:
WNTS 5: Policies changes are needed to reduce suicides - How about just working less hours and relaxing more and being less competitive and dropping the gang mentality that prevails her. I must say the figure they give - of 32,552 people committing suicide in Japan last year really shocks, though doesn't completely surprise me.
Later in the article, in mentions that work places should provide mental health care. Whilst, in theory, this is a good idea, one of my students with mental health problems (I KEEP telling him to use the word 'depression' instead) was told by his doctor to take a month off of work and JUST stay at home all day every day.
I don't hold much faith, in short, in the Japanese medical system getting this pegged, and I dread the time when I'll have to see a medical professional here (be they doctor or dentist) as I constantly hear so many horrifying stories of the kinds of treatments people get here.
WNTS 6: I'm tired. On a note that might be related to WNTS 5, above, tired staff are costing Japan some $30bn a year!
I must say I particularly like the caption under the photograph which reads: The study says Japanese workers need more rest. Like, er, really?
More than half of my students come in every week complaining of being tired. This is regardless of whether they are kids, housewives or workers. Of course, in my opinion, not getting up at 5am to make / eat a stupidly large breakfast could be a key to getting more sleep.
WNTS 7: So, are you the 'one' in ten? The one male in ten that is who is, apparently, still a virgin by 40 years old. Could it have anything to do with the long hours worked? Or the number of 30 and 40-something still living at home? Or the tiredness? (see WNTS 6 above). Or depression? (see WNTS 5 above).
And on a purely nostalgic, and totally unrelated to anything above, or in fact Japanese, I found this website yesterday:
WNTS 8: Moo - (you need to scroll down the link til you get the cows) - this took me on a little trip down memory lane. Or should that be a long drive from White City through the streets of London to Marble Arch?
A few years ago, when I was working at the BBC, I was on a very well-known kids show and we were given a cow to decorate for the Cow Parade.
A bit of background: cow parades started in the US, I think, and lifesize fibre glass cows are produced and sold to organizations and individuals to be decorated and then displayed around the city, in prominent spots, before being auctioned off or whatever. All of the money raised goes to charities.
Anyhoo, we were given a naked cow to decorate and because of the potency of the spray paints and potential mess, we decorated her outside, on some grass with a canvas sheet for her to stand on. Typically, it started raining heavily but we'd borrowed a couple of gazebos (bits of canvas on sticks) to place over and protect her.
Naturally these didn't meet in the middle and the rain kept pouring down inbetween and onto the cow, and smudging our handiwork. We had great fun doing it though and the art director completely redid the cow after we'd finished filming with it.
This wasn't the end though. Katie (as the cow was called for reasons I cannot possibly tell!) had to be filmed being taken to Marble Arch. The whole point of filming this was so she could be seen, which meant she was put on the back of a low-loader, to the utter amusement of people around London and almost to the detriment of one poor guy who almost came off his motorbike doing a double take.
Did I mention Katie was a lifesize cow?
Well, I had to get permission for our little jaunt from everyone (and his wife) - meaning phone conversations with about 7 police departments, 6 London Boroughs and around 6 other organizations. Bit of a logistical nightmare really. And trying to have a serious conversation about a lifesize fibre glass cow isn't something you do every day, is it?
Anyway, it was all a lot of fun and I hold it as one of my fonder days at the BBC.