Thursday, October 04, 2007

Cardboard Phones

It was another day spent predominantly in the classroom. Unlike much of my previous time working in Japanese schools I have been busy lately. Most days I have had at least four classes and during the remaining free periods rather than reading The Red Badge of Courage on Wikipedia's online library I have been planning and scheming for future lessons. Not surprisingly I have also found school much more entertaining and, in a strange twist, more relaxing. Today was exemplifying this new spirit quite perfectly until I came to one of the ni-nen (8th grade) classes where I attempted one of the new lesson plans I had been working on. You can never tell what will work and what will leave you with 30 Japanese kids dressed as 20th century british sailors staring at you, heads cocked to one side, completely willing to spend the rest of the hour silently not learning a damn thing. As entertaining as that may sound it loses its novelty rapidly and I could see today's lesson headed in this direction. The target language was basic phone etiquette, which seemed an easy sell but I took a wrong turn somewhere and they were getting bogged down. When a gust of wind blew the large curtain out against a student seated next to the window the rest of them tittered, glad for a distraction. When I began the final activity, wherein the students would use oversized cardboard phones to call each other up and ask one another to accompany them somewhere, I had pretty low expectations. Fortunately the first student I gave the phone to, Sho-Kun, called up his friend Ryota and together they brought the class back. Their conversation followed the prescribed pattern at first, "Hello."
"Is this Ryota?"
"Yes, what's up?" And then, incorporating his outside research into the final bit, Sho said to Ryota, "I will go to Hell...why don't you come?" He couldn't of done the role-play better and as Suguri-senseii and I laughed I watched the mood of the classroom change completely in seconds.


zanzibar said...

Cardboard phones a great idea. Where'd they get the cussing lessons?
There's always great interest in scatological terms...guess that might be a fertile line of attack for kindling interest on the part of some adolescents--if not for the possibly skeptical attitude of the local adult supervision

grammatical suggestion: "Couldn't of" --> couldn't have

Logos Mori said...

Freaking beautiful, Matt. And I love stories like this -- And the image of them in their "sailor suits" with all their heads cocked to the left staring at you -- priceless. We need you back at 826 - when do you come home?