Martin's Japan Pages

Our Man In Japan

23 August 2006

Extra school visit and chatting with a local

Yesterday I went to Hakkai High School in Muikamachi to help with their open day for third year Junior High students. Dean was also there and he introduced me to the English department Two of teh teachers I already knew from the seminar. A third teacher, Yanagisawa, I recognised but I couldn't place where from. He mentioned that he'd worked at Tsunan High School a few years ago and then it clicked; I'd seen his picture in the English Teachers room at Tsunan stood alongside John, the ALT two before me.

I did the same lesson plan with three different teachers. First we'd do a shouting game warm-up. Then a simple introduction interview. And finally, "Have you ever ...?" bingo. It was good to teach again for the first time since July. Some of the students were really genki and enthusiastic for the English lesson which made things a lot easier.

Dean and I went for dinner with Hakkai's English Department and we chatted and I got to know the teachers more. Whoever the new Hakkai ALT will be, I think they'll have a great time working with the English teachers at Hakkai and Tokamachi Koko.

After, I went to Jusco in Muikamachi to draw some money from the cash machine. As a stepped up to the machine, a woman said "Not Working" in English, and was genuinely surprised when she saw I understood her. I said I'd come back later. After a wander around Jusco, I returned and met the woman again. She told me in Japanese that the machine was still not working and she didn't know when it would be okay. So we got chatting about where I was from, what my job is, where I live, what I like about Niigata and the snow in winter. We chinwagged for a good ten-fifteen minutes before a man appered to say the machine was fixed. We both drew our money and said goodbye.

I had forgotten how great it is to just stand and chat to a random stranger. Those moments make me feel less like a visitor and more like a local. And it's a great confidence boost for my Japanese skills when I can see that I'm being understood, even with my poor Japanese. If only I could be more fearless, maybe I could have more of those moments.


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