2 Days of Slave Labour (I Mean Work)
( 4.5 ) ( 8
Nagoya (of course), Japan
Apr 15, 2004 09:49
I just thought I`d send a quick mail to let everyone know how work
is going so far. Well, it has been totally exhausting. My first
day of work was yesterday. I had an entire day of adult conversation
classes. Adults randomly show up and sign in to one of your classes
(maximum of 5 adults per class, plus the Native). They are grouped
into one of 5 levels according to ability. They have a book that
we use to cover one lesson per class. Natives are not given these
books because ECC is too cheap to let us have our own copy, so we
have to wing it when we get into the class. We have to find a lesson
that no one has already completed and go for it. We could end up
with five giggling high school girls or one business executive who
is very, very tired. Or, we could end up with three giggling high
school girls and one very tired business executive as I did yesterday.
Those classes are fun enough, but very draining since I am in charge
of sparking any conversation that happens. The conversation can`t
just be boring `how was your day` kind of stuff or everyone will
get bored (after each and every one of them tells me they are `fine`).
Since students just show up choose to sign into any class they are
able to target teachers they like. So if you aren`t exciting and
entertaining you could be the unlucky unpopular teacher who ends
up doing lobby work if no one signs up for your classes. Lobby work
involves loitering in your school`s lobby basically being the doorman
and ushering everyone into the building with a cheerful HELLO! LOOK
AT ME, I`M AN AUTHENTIC NATIVE SPEAKER! Japanese people do not like
to be funny it seems, so most of my time is spent trying to figure
out how to make everyone laugh. I usually am able to do this by
forcing them to have experession with they talk. It`s pretty funny.
I won`t let them continue unless they talk without their customary
ECC kind of drills a slave labour mentality into all Native teachers.
They have this strange arrangement whereby Natives get paid considerably
more than the office staff, but the office staff get to treat us
like smelly, lazy, no good Foreigners. Fine by me! I was told to
make a good impression by showing up hours before class to familiarize
myself with my school. That was fine, but since I can`t prepare
for my lessons I had nothing to do. So I volunteered to help the
office staff. And, of course I get stuck stappling flyers to packets
of tissue that they hand out in subway stations. I love these tissue
packets (its the most popular way to advertise in Japan it seems).
I asked if I could hand them out, but apparently that requires training!
So, I single handedly stapled over 400 flyers to tissue packets.
I was quite proud of myself. My school director never asked me how
my classes went, but she did tell me that the stappling job I was
performing was of the highest importance. I thought she was kidding
so I kind of rolled my eyes and laughed. But, it turns out she wasn`t
kidding at all. Oops.
Today I had my first kids class. I narrowly missed teaching the
class with my fly down. I was so impressed that the school had western
style toilets and hand soap that I must have got ahead of myself.
A quick check resolved that. So the kids I taught today were sooooo
cute! I have five kids and five moms in the room with me. The moms
are very helpful, but I can really sense that they are judging me
the whole time they are there. They smile to my face and then head
check in with the office staff on their way out to tell them that
they hate me and want a new teacher (that actually happens). No
problem. I happen to have two tricks up my sleeve. When all else
1. Get everyone to start jumping up and down like crazy people.
For some reason unknown to me, this works like a charm. Kids love
to jump on the spot.
2. Break out Max the Puppet for some tummy tickling. This is unbelievably
effective. Kids love to be tickled, and love to fondle my puppet.
So, he made an appearance on several occasions.
I only had problems with one little boy, who basically spent the
entire class facing the wall (I think he may have a learning disability,
but maybe he just needs some ridaline [pardon the spelling please,
I`m tired, and quite simply a bad speller]). He was so distracted!
Occasionally he would stop to run around and roll over and grab
random things, but his mom had him in check most of the time. I
think by the end of the class he was able to identify his nose (that
was the major goal of the lesson). I think at one point he was moving
in for a finger-in-the-bum manouver, but his mom managed to restrain
him. Lucky him. This particular fellow also has snot crusted all
over his face which is really grotesque. When he finally turned
around to acknowledge me he had bubbles of snot coming out and he
stuck his finger in there to poke around. EEEWWW!
So, I have two major problems with my class. If you can help I would
really appreciate it.
1. HELP! I can`t remember the tune for the TEDDY BEAR, TEDDY BEAR
song! Teddy bear, teddy bear touch your nose, teddy bear, teddy
bear dance on your toes. Does anyone remember that song? I never
EVER thought I`d need it ever again, but it turns out I do!
2. HELP! I can only sing the Head & Shoulders, Knees & Toes
song to the tune of London Bridges Falling Down! Here they sing
that song with a different tune and I keep reverting back to the
Canadian way. As it turns out I need to sing this song accapello
(can`t spell) and it`s quite embarassing when I can`t get the tune
right. The kids aren`t expected to sing so I have to go solo at
the top of my lungs, but I can feel the moms` critical gaze wondering
over me as I frantically grab parts of my body in the wrong order,
and at the wrong pace. That`s when I break into a solid round of
jumping on the spot afterwards to get everyone laughing again.
These consitute my major problems these days. All in all, not too
bad. Just 2 more days to go before I can have a day off. I feel
like I need a personal support person in the staff room to pep talk
me before I have to go into my next round of classes. `You`ll be
ok Joanne. Just knock em dead with some idioms and witty jokes.
If all else fails just get up and start jumping up and down and
making an ass of yourself`.
Ta ta for now.
Hope you`re all doing well.
Kyle and I are off for some Fish McDippers.
Miss you all.