Thursday, April 27, 2006


i only know one of the above kanji. but the neat keyboard system at school allows for kanji to be substituted for the hiragana that is typed out. the trick is of course to make sure that the right kanji popped up for the syllables. so for instance, the above kanji stands for "omo" and "shiro". the whole thing says, "omoshiroidesu" and means "it's interesting/funny/amusing"
i knew the "shiro" kanji, it means white; its other readings are (i believe) "haku" and "byaku". consider this your kanji lesson of the day.

the school is nearly empty right now. the teachers had to go to some sort of a meeting at one of the elementary schools in the village. most went. it's just me, the art teacher, the PE teacher and the accountant that are left. some kids are of course milling about--there are always kids milling about the school. there are usually two buses to take them home if they decide to stay for clubs or any other reason. one right after school and one at 6 or 7pm.
the teachers that left are going to have a meeting with all the elementary teachers and then play volleyball and eat. i said that i won't understand a thing in the meeting and can't play volleyball because i have to leave at 5pm to go to Nago for karate practice. so i'm at the school for another 20 minutes or so and thought i'd fill ya in on some details from life in Ogimi.

had a wonderful weekend. Friday night saw the african drums band again, except the drummer wasn't actually there. felt bad for having invited a bunch of Block1 JETs to the concert and having it be not as good as the night before. we still had a good time--it was nice to see people i haven't seen in a while and chill on the beach by the bonfire while listening to hippie music. :)
Saturday took it easy and then drove to Kelly's and hung out with her, Shawn and Matt both days. We even got to go on base. It's quite an exciting venture. Kelly said it was like Christmas and felt bad for wanting to buy a bunch of yummy, American snacks. But the guys were cool with it and so we shopped a bit. And then hit the Subway for a late lunch, grabbed it to go and drove off base to sit on the seawall in Sunabe (Chatan) and watched the surfers idling in the water with no promise of a wave. It was very relaxing and nice. A good weekend overall.
And really didn't want to go to school the next day. Mostly because i knew i had to prepare for the week's lessons and especially for the English Club's first meeting.
On Tuesday the sign up for the club was announced by the JTE in the general morning assembly and by the end of the school day i had 4 names on the sheet. All girls, all 3rd graders. The first meeting was on Wednesday and by that point i had 6 girls who signed up and 3 that showed up not knwoing that there was a sign up sheet.
so 9 total. All girls, all 3rd graders. Great!
I was hoping for 10 students at the beginning. Thought more than that would be too many. I was hoping for a couple of boys to show but didn't actually think they would. Didn't really want 1st graders to show up because it would be very difficult to communicate with them. Their English extends as far as "I like ~" and "It's sunny." Whereas the 3rd grade girls can at least understand what I am communicating some of the time.

The club went great! I overplanned. We ended up talking about things outside of my plans for 20-30 minutes. At first it was freeflowing because we were waiting for some girls to show up. Wednesdays is a day to make-up the Monday morning STEP tests all students have to take, so i figure at the beginning of each English Club we will just chat and look at magazines and such if more than 1 girl is absent for the makeups. Yesterday 3 girls were gone 'til 5pm or so (i started club at 4:30).
Then we went over the things they would like to do during English Club. Listening and singing foreign songs is at the top of the list, so is watching movies, cooking, and shopping. Don't know how we're going to go shopping and make it an English Club activity. There are flea markets on bases that are open to public and an ALT in Motobu did take her small English Club to one of them for conversation practice. So it's possible, but there are 9 girls and one small car. Something to consider.
We then went over the phrases I and they will say all the time while in English Club. It took me a while to explain what i meant by "i am going to say some things over and over again". The effort it took was almost sisyphean but i finally got that "aaaaah! i get it" look and the rock rolled down the other side.
the same effort happened again when i tried to illicit the kind of questions one would ask when filling out a questionnaire about another person. i asked them to interview their neighbor and to fill in the form i gave them, and then introduce that person--all in English. But first we had to review the kind of questions they would have to ask in order to get responses for: Age, Birthday, Favorite Subject, and so on.

So we didn't actually get to the introductions part and went 20 minutes past 6pm, my planned cut-off time. Next week we don't have a meeting because of a national holiday, so we shall meet in two.
I left the girls to arrange the tables, chairs and board. The kids are expected to do any set up and take down work. They automatically start doing it. I still haven't gotten used to that. But when i left they all seemed bubbly and in good spirits, and I felt pretty good about what had just transpired. I am sure I will be somewhat nervous every time we have the club, but i think it will be ok most of the time.
and it's fun picking up Japanese this way a bit. Not sure how usefull it will be for me, but it's possible that i'll learn a few expressions from them.
and yesterday i impressed them by writing kanji on the board for foreign. 外国. Fun, eh?

time to go home.



keldog22 said...

you and your kanji. just keep it simple for all us retards ok? thanks.

Xavier said...

That's really cool that you made such a nice club for the students to enjoy.

I was gonna say, but you might already know. omoshiroi no imi ha "white face" desu. I always thought that it stood for the white faces of the geisha, and how that was considered interesting. But I'm probably wrong. (^_^;)

-e said...

i was wondering if there might not be an explanation for the word, like omoshiroi ; it doesn't seem that kanji characters are used litely--in fact, that is one of the reasons i still haven't given up on the studying, is because the kanji are so intriguing.
but perhaps, the "white face" meaning of omoshiroi comes from the white faces of the gaijin that came to Japan? to the japanese they must have been "funny, interesting, amusing" all at the same time.