Graduation season has rolled around again here in Japan.
I don’t remember how much I’ve talked about graduations on here offhand, but today was the graduation at my elementary school. Back home, the idea of graduation from elementary school seems silly. Here in Japan, though, it’s a big rite of passage.
As part of the ceremony at my elementary school, the students make a short speech after they get their diplomas. In them, they thank their parents for raising them up that point. After that, they go to meet their parents in the audience. They hand off the diploma, a gift from the PTA (which has been a Japanese-English dictionary every year that I’ve been here), and a small bouquet of flowers they receive so that they can go back to their seats and do their part in the rest of the ceremony unencumbered.
A game developer recently asked me if I had any travel tips for Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. Since I recently went on a trip to those three places with my mother and have been to Kyoto twice now for BitSummit, I was able to write up quite a bit of advice. Since I went to the trouble of writing it all out, I figured I’d blog it. Now I won’t find myself writing it all out twice.
I had my first elementary school classes since winter break today. The 6th grade class went well, but the 5th grade class went amazingly. Today we started a new chapter. It has 26 vocabulary words, so I made today a lazy play-with-words day.
In this third and final post (see also Part 1 and Part 2) about my junior high school’s festival last month, I am going to talk about student involvement in planning the event and then launch into the last third of the school festival.
Okay, the students didn’t say that. I’m making titles up now. But I see no reason not to continue the grammatically incorrect titling. Besides, I’m about to talk about the students’ singing. With a bit about their music education in general.
This is the second post I’ve written about this year’s school festival. Check out part one and part three.
It’s been a while since I posted anything here. I’ve been busy — I’m now writing articles for IndieGames.com regularly. I also went to Tokyo Game Show (the first event of its kind I’ve ever been to). Coming back from Tokyo Game Show, I came down with a cold. It’s caused minimal discomfort but a fever that kept me out of work for 3 days.
This past Sunday my junior high school had its annual school festival. It’s the first time I’ve been to one of my schools’ festivals without having been around for most of the weeks of practice since right after I first got here. This made it an event of mixed feelings. A big part of the reason I missed so much of the prep time was Tokyo Game Show and the cold it gave me.
I’m also not at all sorry for going to Tokyo Game Show.
Anyway, read on if you want to find out about all the neat stuff my students did for their festival. Here’s a list of the general flow of the day, with details starting after the break. This is be the first of multiple posts. (Check out part two and part three.)
I saw Iron Man 3 at the theater last weekend. It was a good movie, but that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about an ad before the movie which starred this fine gentleman:
One of the trailers was for the upcoming G.I. Joe movie. Once the trailer had ended, there was a commercial for G.I. Joe pens. I didn’t pay much attention to the details of this Amazing Pen Offer™, but it was very Japanese. So very Japanese that they used a clip of Bruce Willis saying “Nice,” in the movie, subtitled in a bubbly pink font with a heart at the end.
At the beginning of every one of my classes (at all levels of education from preschool to high school), I ask each student, “How are you?” This would take too much time if I had more students. As things stand it’s a good, regular way to start the class. All the students knowing it also gives me a way to use English with them every time I see them around town. Unless a kid is obstinate and doesn’t want to respond — which happens sometimes — I’m guaranteed to be able to toss some English back and forth with every kid in town.
Rather than just teach them the stock “I’m fine. (And you?)”, I teach them to respond with things like, “I’m happy,” or “I’m hot.” I got this idea from the 5th grade textbooks. It seemed like a good idea, because rather than just teaching them that sentence A in English is the same as sentence B in Japanese, the interaction between question and answer must be explained. In Japanese, if you ask the equivalent of “How are you?”, what you’re really asking is “Are you healthy/energetic?”, to which the other person answers in the affirmative or the negative. Skipping the stock response and pointing out that you can really answer in any number of ways sets the students up to realize that learning a foreign language is more than just substituting the words in one language for the words in another language.
Several weeks ago, Googly Ears made me really proud by connecting a couple of random dots on her own. One day, during recess, I asked her how she was doing.
Up until now, I’ve been keeping my JET Program blog posts on a separate blog. I want to blog more regularly, but have no desire to devote the time necessary to keep two blogs up at once, so I’m merging it into this blog. The now defunct blog is here.
Since the Japanese are more concerned about online identity protection and I work with kids in particular, all Japanese persons I mention are given nicknames.
Yesterday, it was very windy. That was great. It’s been upwards of and sometimes around 30 degrees celsius here in Nakagawa for the past 2-3 weeks, well past the usual point where the weather breaks and things start to cool off. It was still hot, but the wind made things bearable. Overjoyed, I left my house in the morning — by bike, as usual — and greeted the elementary school students as I passed them on my way to work*.
Taikyuu responded to my greeting with a worried look and worried words.
Taikyuu: It’s dangerous, Lena-sensei! Me: (stopping, not sure I’d heard correctly) What? Taikyuu: It’s dangerous! The wind is strong. Please be careful.
The formula for the area of a circle is pi times the square of its radius. The Japanese government has evacuated an area around the Fukushima power plants with a radius of 40km, or 5,024km sq. Right after the power plants went critical, the US government strongly recommended (at around 3 AM) that any of its citizens within 80km leave immediately. The U.S. evacuation circle therefore has an area of 20,096km sq. That’s a discrepancy 15,072km sq.in size.
This discrepancy is the reason that this year’s U.S. JETs haven’t been told their placements yet. We were supposed to have been informed in May, but some placements fall into this gray area. The Japanese and U.S. governments are discussing what to do about it. We are not expected to find out placement assignments until right around the solstice.