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First 2 Days of Slave Labour (I Mean Work)
Rating: ( 4.5 ) ( 8 votes )

Nagoya (of course), Japan
Apr 15, 2004 09:49

Pros: fun visit
Cons: none


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 monotones.

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 fails

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.