Friday, November 25, 2005 fine thank you, and you?...

Its time to say abit more about teaching in japan, which i feel must be one of the easiest jobs possible (prehaps only second to being a movie extra).

At the moment im teaching 2 days a week, which gives me more than enough money to survive here. I normally get paid around 2700yen an hour (about $33) and japan isnt that expensive, so im not having to do that many hours. I think overall ive saved abit since getting here, but the currencies dropped so overall i think ill come home with the same amount I brought with me.

So heres abit about english teaching in japan.

Teaching in Japan

All junior high school students in japan are taught the following exchange:

"Hello, how are you?"
"Im fine thank you, and you?"

Nothing overly wrong with it, except that everyone here seems to believe this is the only proper way to start a conversation in english.

First result of this is regardless of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, japanese people are always "fine" (Ive had a student litterally in tears, who around sobbing, was able to tell me she was "fine").

Second result, its very easy to confuse people by asking them something other than "How are you?" at the start of a conversation. ie

"Hello, im luke, whats your name?"
"ahhh....ummm....Im fine thank you and you?"

Ive had this conversation atleast 20 times and have given up being creative. It would be wrong to say that all people follow this pattern without exception, there are those who seemingly slept through junior highschool english class:

"Hello, how are you?"
"Hello, my name is hiroshi"#big smile#
"My name is Luke, and how are you?"
"eeeee?" #smile disapears#

Its normally about this point that some bright students decides enough is enough, and adds:

"He is fine thank you and you?"

I spent several lessons today trying to convince by students they dont need to be perpetually fine, but im sure come next week theyll be fine again.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

...let them eat cake...

Just got back from a week in Tokyo, which was very interesting, and leeds me to believe that there are many strange things about Japan that I havent even considered yet, for example, cake.

Sometimes I like coffee, sometimes I like cake and coffee, and sometimes I can afford both these things so it seems perfectly sensible to goto a cafe and buy them. This is a sensible course of action in japan as well. Be warned however, if for some reason you feel like cake, but not coffee, your misguided common sense could lead you into trouble. Mine did.

I went to a cafe while in tokyo that had some really nice looking (and eventually, tasting) cakes on display in the window. Id had alot to drink at lunch, so didnt really want anything more, I just wanted the shiny chocolate cake. Reasonable enough right? Well on the menu it only had the price for coffee and cake sets, but this shouldnt really be a problem, so we ordered it. Just to be safe hiroko asked how much the cake was going to be on its own.

This line of questioning made the waitress feel slightly uncomfortable, to the point that she had to run away and ask the manager. This was to be as far as cakes independence from coffee was going to get, apparently cake and coffee are inseperable in certain parts of tokyo. I never found out why, prehaps cake just gets lonely easily?

I ended up with a drink... good cake though. Strange cafe.


Saturday, November 12, 2005

...the ghosts in the machine...

well it finally happened, robots have decided they are better than us and are going to do something about it.

It happened yesterday, I went to visit some robots on display at ATR labs, and as I walked past one of them raised its heavily padded arm and punched me in the back. It may simply have been resentful that I had patted it on the head, or it may be a sign of something deeper...
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