Wednesday, April 29, 2009
6th graders, 11 years old and going through that "I don't want to be embarassed in front of my friends" stage so can be tricky but they are a sweet bunch, just takes more time to get them going. Don't expect them to clap or jump up and copy your gestures. However incorporate it into a game and they will. Introduce a scoring system and you'll have them do anything! I created a face race track on the board last week giving each team a name according to their mode of transport (a rickshaw, a funny looking bus, a racing car etc) They got soo competitive with the game and got so into it I think they almost forgot they were practicing English language!
5th graders, 9-10 yrs, similar to the 6th graders but a teeny bit more genki (you might be able to get a 5th grader to clap for example but forget it with a 6th grader)
4th graders, 8-9 yrs, cuter, a bit more genki, will definately clap and sing.
3rd graders, 8 yrs, soo cute, play a song and they'll be up standing on the chairs going wild. The kids went crazy during my ball game (hot potato) with an inflatable ball (just make sure you use an inflatable)
I've just had a class of 2nd graders this week (7 yrs) Oh so genky. I wanted to smuggle some of them home they were that cute!
Because they have these really childish "cheat" flashcards in the back of each book that turn each Japanese character into some kind of picture.
Check these out and you'll see what I mean. This was is "fu" and the picture is of Mount Fuji and it kind of looks like a mountain! The next one is "tsu" and he's used a tsunami. I mean how can you forget that!
However holidaymaker Japanese "When does the next train to Tokyo leave?" I realised was not going to help me with the staff room gossip after the weekend. So today I signed up to Japanese classes, 2 per week at the Ishikawa Foundation for International Exchange, aka Rifare (ree-far-ay). It cost 5000 Yen per month (about £35) so works out around £4 per lesson, bloody excellent!
There was a class on as I enquired so I joined it straight away. The teacher was pretty genki and the class small enough to create a nice, friendly atmosphere. I really enjoyed it. Now I can say "Sono wain, misete kudasai" (please show me this wine) Now that's more like it!
Monday, April 27, 2009
So I'll start with the first section of the supermarket, veggies (same as Morrisons at home, weird). Some veggies are obvious, or so I thought. Cucumber here is smaller and thinner than a courgette, in fact about the same size as a teaspoon so beware if you think you're stocking up on veggies.
Melons are also expensive here, about a tenner each. Now I was told this by our Japanese teacher during our intro course in Bristol. Yubari melons, those ones with the veins on the outside can fetch up to 15,000-100,000 Yen (up to £1000 each)
Anyway, here are the £10 variety., I'm sure they're about £2 in England? Maybe I've got that totally wrong.
And these bad boys, I'm going to have to check with Karen what these are. Turnips? They looked impressive anyway and were huge. I'll get back to you on that one.
Then there are the ominous looking pre-packaged vegetables, these ones below i have just found out are bamboo shoots or takenoko (see my post about takenoko picking), a real spring vegetable so in season. I added to a stir fry the other day and found it really crunchy, maybe it was only par cooked?!
Next comes this jellified liquid in packs. I'm still not sure what this is so will have to report back!
Saturday, April 25, 2009
It's actually really cosy. See my video!
The performance started with the 6th graders coming in hand in hand with the little 1st years. I can't upload the bloody video as it's too big. Damn! I've posted the little mites bowing instead and saying thank you.
I got quite emotional as I thought about Tegan on her first day. (I'm sure nothing like this)
The show kicked off with a song on recorders performed by the 3rd graders, a dance by the whole school, a quiz from the 4th graders and another performance I can't actually remember but it was all really WOW especially at there's about 500 kids at Isurugi and orchestrating something on this level must have taken such a huge amount of work.
One thing that I still can't get used to is the noise! Kids screaming, shouting, running everywhere. I'm used to my laptop and 4 walls! See kids in corridor below
I then walk to NishiKanazawa station, about a 10 min walk away listening to my BBC Japanese beginners course on the iPOD (I've now been through it 3 times and STILL can't direct a cab driver left or right) My 7.10 train arrives BANG ON time, oh did I mention you can actually rely on trains here! I get on, its packed full of school kids who all want to practice their English with me, JOY! and when I say packed I mean my face is pressed against the automatic door, think London tube rush hour with sweaty, smelly junior high school kids.
Everyone gets off at Kanazawa thank god & I get a seat and try to learn Japanese although at that time in the morning concentration isn't at its best. So one thing you will notice on Japanese trains in the morning is that EVERYONE sleeps.
I have no idea how they know when they're at their stop, they just seem to know...! they seem to have mastered the art of power napping thats for sure and I've now started to join them.
I then get off at Oyabe City (it's not a city as we would call a city at home- I'll get to that in another blog post) Anyway, I get off the train and walk to the bike shed. There are so many people who leave Oyabe that the bike "shed" holds about 500 bloody bikes!
I then get on the bike, which has NO gears for my 10 min ride to Isurugi or 15 min ride to Toubu Elementary. Even though there aren't really hills the no gears thing is a killer and I turn up to work red faced, sweaty, with my trousers tucked into my socks not really looking the smart, suited and heeled ALT that Interac had outlined in their training!
Ok so here they are when I moved in, kind of dried out grassy fields. Oh yes and thats my apartment block over there!
So within weeks the little farmer (yes everything is little here) with his little tractor comes and ploughs the fields. Ooh, I feel Im at home! Don't have a piccie of that one. Within a few days of plouging they started flooding the fields, water was pouring down these gulleys (you can see one on the right of the above photo)
Within a day or two the fields are submerged in water. When someone said "flooded" I wasn't expecting totally submerged so that was a bit of a shock. I was then told by Ugee (ok prob wrong spelling), Cari's boyfriend that flooding would mean the arrival of the frogs. I took what he said with a pinch of salt but then got home that night to a chorus of frogs. I recorded the noise (as its quite mental) below. I'm just praying I won't step on one on the way home!
A week later, which was Thursday this week, on my bleary eyed daily morning walk to the train station I was actually excited to see the first shoots in two of the fields! I had to get my camera out like a proper tourist!
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
I was ushered into the freezing cold office of Kancho Sensei (Headteacher). We had some green tea which warmed me up a bit and sat on his big leather sofas. I gave him the present (Abacus tea towel with some choccies wrapped in it) and he loved it, phew. Currently my Japanese is sooo bad that I had to gesture washing & drying up to him otherwise I think he would have left it pinned to his office wall.
Anyway, I was taken to the staff room and showed my teeny weeny desk, shit I thought I can't even get my legs under that! I managed with some effort.
So my schedule for the day was 2 x 6th grade classes. Two students came and collected me from the staff room. God my heart was in my mouth, I was sooo nervous! It was all fine though. In hindsight that very first class is actually the worst class of all my classes, 40 kids in one cramped room including some disabled and autistic kids. A proper challenge to get 100% attention! I'll try and write up some of my lessons in a separate blog (and when I gain some confidence ask the teachers to record parts of them)
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009
So my first formal meeting in Japan. Typical then that instead of meeting one of the usual lakkies in the department this time we have to meet the head of the BofE in Oyabe. First time for Etsuko, my IC (international co-ordinator- helps with settling in). She got so nervous which just makes me nervous. We both get out our speeches in the car. I'm trying to remember how to say "I'm learning Japanese but its not good yet" and am struggling. She's trying to recite where & what I did at uni. Poor love. Communication and cultural studies with media doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.
So we were ushered into the big cheese' office where 6 or so men stood up to greet us; a flurry of bowing. Eeek, I didn't know who to bow at first and how low to bow so that all went a bit wrong but nevermind. I made sure I wasn't the first to drink my green tea (now I should say in Japanese; O-cha) so not to offend. The meeting lasted for approx 5 minutes and in that time the head cheese decided to target all the questions at me. My "wakarimasens" just didn't work, he carried on with his questions. I smiled a lot and ended up answering in English. I was cringing. My intro Japanese course got me nowhere!
The minute I landed back on Kanazawa soil, I signed up for 2 x Japanese lessons per week at the Rifare. Never again! I'm going to be fluent in no time....
Well that's until I discovered that not EVERY loo experience is as blissful and high tech as I thought. My first day at the Edikyo centre (education centre where I spend every Monday preparing lessons) burst my bubble. I walked in with Etsuko. Lucky really as Im not sure I would have changed into the plstic toilet shoes otherwise. Yes, you have to swap your shoes (in this case my indoor shoes so already swapped once) with these teeny weeny narrow toilet shoes provided that make you feel like an utter chubby chubster.
When the biz is done just remember NOT to walk out with your toilet shoes on. I nearly did and would have never lived it down with the kids at school.
The loo, as you can see, is set into the ground. Instead of sitting you squat. I guess it's more hygenic (no seat touching) but oh so unglam! You face the plumbing as you do the biz. The thing which I found, and still find awful is the unavoidable splashes of wee wee on your trousers/socks! Ok so not totally hygenic...
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Anyway, I plumped for something that said "Fresh Camomile" in Englsih on the front (although it still didn't confirm what it was) and luckily was right.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Oh and when I say garden, I'm talking 25 acres of garden so don't think small here (for a change) I won't post all the photos up but it really was beautiful (packed with Japanese but still beautiful). This is the famous "flower viewing bridge".
Sunday, April 5, 2009
The first thing I noticed was that I was sourrounded by small fields, kind of like allotments. I'll get to those in another blog post as they turned out to be mini paddy fields, wicked! The apartment block was as I expected, a concrete block with minimal character. It didn't really faze me, I'm not in Japan to live in luxury residence! I did however immediately notice the beautiful, virbant pink cherry blossoms in a small park nearby.
Picture here shows the Leo Palace apartment block which looks so much prettier with the cherry blossoms in the forefront of the pic!
Despite looking like a prison block the inside was new, clean and very IKEA-esque. Small but not unbearably so. I was happy! (and to be no longer living out of a suitcase)
Video of outside of LeoPalace
For anyone who is looking at a Leo Palace then I've posted a video here.