Japanese schoolgirls

Today, the second-years presented very brief speeches on their desired occupation. They were supposed to write the English word for their job on a piece of blank paper and hold it up as they typed. One of my students called me over and pointed out, looking a little flustered, a smudge of marker ink that appeared below what she’d written–I didn’t even realize there was a problem, so I just told her it looked cute and started to move on. She called me back and asked me if it was okay for her to use white-out to cover it–and it finally hit me that she asked because the teacher had just said, “Write your job on this paper in marker.”

I was astounded. She was sure she would get in trouble because she’d smudged some marker by accident under her title on a piece of blank paper, and because if the teacher says, “use a marker,” it means use a marker to write her desired job in English and nothing else whatsoever?

Kind of along the same lines, a couple of weeks ago our third-years had to do a dialogue in pairs based on interesting images my JTE had found in England (A4-sized images/cards of animals and interesting scenes and the like). My JTE handed the cards out face-down and at random to the groups, and suddenly we heard one pair of girls shriek, because their card had those adorable tree frogs on them. They’d turned it over and were cringing and squirming as if the teacher had dropped a worm on their desk. It was then that I remembered that Japanese girls are as squeamish about frogs and lizards–both of which I think are adorable–as I am about creepy-crawlie things, like multi-legged insects, worms, and roaches. They absolutely refused to accept the card, insisting that it was too scary and disgusting, so my JTE finally gave them another one, and they calmed down.

Really, I love my kids. They’re a really cool and sweet bunch. There are just moments like this that leave me at a loss for words sometimes, which is especially strange since I know these things shouldn’t surprise me anymore.

(And I swear, I actually had a pretty good day! I finally bought my overnight train ticket to Tokyo–it was a lot more expensive than I was expecting, so I may look into less expensive alternatives, and I’m definitely not catching it back, though there really is no inexpensive and convenient way to get to/from Tokyo. That and the thing with the student were the only two noteworthy things that happened today.)

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