Hmm hm hm hm hmm hm h–

Oh!  Hello there, O Reader.  I didn’t hear you come in.  Have a seat.  Mi blog es tu blog.  Care for some mugicha (barley tea)? No?  Too bad, I’ll give you some anyway.  And a croissant, too, just because this silly little intro needs some French to class it up.

Don’t you love how I made sure to observe the “put a comma before ‘too'” rule while beginning the sentence with ‘and’?  It’s because I’m a rebel.  It is very ENJOY for me to mess with grammar.

As you can see, I’m a little loopy.  It’s time yet again for:

Sit In The Shokuinshitsu All Day Warming My Chair! \^o^/

Two days ago we had 終業式 (shuugyoushiki), the closing ceremony for the term.  We’re on “summer vacation,” which means the kids only have class from 9-12 instead of from Godforsaken Hour in the AM – Godforsaken Hour in the PM.  Then they have clubs, so they’re still at school quite a bit.  I think they’ll get some real time off in August, but I don’t really know, and I don’t remember how it was last year when I came because of the super fun times of being “quarantined” in the shokuinshitsu for two weeks after arriving due to fears over swine flu.

My bad, “H1N1.”

Anyway, while the students have class, none of those are Oral Communication, so there’s no real reason for me to be at school.  However, with only 20 paid vacation days per contract year, there’s no way I could take days off every time the schedule is like this.  So, yeah, I’m just sittin’ in me chair. I studied plenty of Japanese yesterday, and I’ll study more in a bit.  In the meantime, I figured I’d write a post getting this blog up to speed with all the random stuff that’s going on right now.

Success! English Test! (Yet I wrote it like Engrish…^o^;)  For the past two weeks or so, I’d been helping a couple of third year students study for the 英検 (“Eiken,” an English test).  One was an English Course girl going for 1級 (ikkyuu, the highest level), and the other an Art Course girl going for 2級.  The English Course girl told me yesterday that she passed! ^_^  The Art Course kids are away on a trip so I don’t know how the other girl did.

Arrival of New JETs We’ll soon be getting lots of fresh blood.  While in general the JET Program’s been shrinking, due to the bankruptcy of yet another private ALT company, lots of schools are going back to JET.  In my juutaku alone, we’ll get 5 new ALTs moving in. (I believe this is 5 on top of the 3 who are coming to replace other ALTs, but I’m not sure.)  My current co-ALT is returning to the States, so it’ll be my turn to help a newbie settle in.

Speaking of him… I really enjoyed working with my co-ALT and hope that his successor will be just as good.  I just wanna give a virtual shout out to him.  Good luck, “Sesu.” ^o^/

Speaking of JET and Goodbyes A few months ago the JET Program came up for review to be either cut back or eliminated.  I can’t find any definitive answers on the net, but it seems the Program has been spared for the coming year at least.

Now, it’s a bit of a conflict of interest for me.  Of course I would like to keep my job.  On the other hand, if it were a crummy job where I felt I was being wasted, I wouldn’t care what happened.  Sure, I’m sitting in the shokuinshitsu all day doing nothing for maybe 30 days out the entire year.  But overall I feel like I do help these students learn English, and more importantly, motivate them to get off their arses.  (Truly, the laziness of some of my kids is just…beyond words.  ^_^;;) There’s also the exchange aspect.  Sorry Japan, but when people in Tokyo of all places still turn around and stare when they hear someone speaking English…it’s not a good sign.

In school, some of the best moments I’ve had are when the students just randomly come talk to me.  It doesn’t happen much, and it is mostly the Art Course students who do so.  In those moments though, I think there’s exchange that will leave a lasting impression going on.  Even when we do more cultural, less grammar-based lessons such as showing “Thriller” for Halloween, since there’s always the “this will be on the test” aspect in class, it’s more like “this is stuff that goes on in the classroom” rather than “this is real life.” Personally, I’ve always hated the school/real life dichotomy; to me everything that goes on in school is related to real life, but since many people apparently think of it that way it affects their ability to apply what they learn in school to whatever it is they consider the “real world.”

While I don’t believe the Program should be eliminated, I do think it could be streamlined.  There are, so I hear, JETs who do nothing for a significant portion of the school year, not because they’re slackers, but because they aren’t given work.  Why were they hired in the first place then?  That’s a huge waste of money.  As far as the allegation that JET hasn’t helped Japanese actually learn real English, again, it’s harder to have an impact when we spend relatively little of the total English instruction time with the kids. Outside of Oral Communication class, English is taught by drawing and quartering the language: underlining subjects, circling objects, double underlining verbs, starring adjectives, etc; in short, a bewildering array of symbols is summoned upon the page to beat the paragraphs into submission.  This isn’t even teaching English with the focus on grammar, it’s teaching English with the focus on pretending to understand structure by looking at the parts and ignoring the whole.  They translate from English to Japanese all the time, rarely the other way around.  Is there any Japanese teacher who would teach Japanese like that?

Inaka, Here I Come! Next week I’ll be going with my English Course first years to Summer Camp, which takes place, of course, in the middle of Nowhere.  (It’s more like “in the upper part of Nowhere,” but let’s ignore that for now.) Then, the third week of August, I’ll be going to the boonies because I really want to ride Kyuushuu’s sight-seeing choo-choo.  I mean, SL Hitoyoshi-gou.  That’s right, I saw an ad for it on a train and was like “OMG it’s a steam engine I wanna ride it!” ^o^; (Such a geek…)

Now It’s Official I am now a card-carrying member of GACKT’s official fanclub DEARS.

Nye heh heh heh ha!

Speaking of him… I got the best clear file ever when I picked up GACKT’s The Eleventh Day ~Single Collection~ yesterday.

The best clear file in the PCFC to date! ♡

I actually had all the songs on that collection already, but Fangirl Collectionism won out over Reason and when I saw the little sticker saying there would be a clear file to sweeten the deal, I snapped the CD up without a second thought.  Interestingly, the Tower Records I usually go to always had GACKT filed under Visual Rock, but now they’ve moved his CDs to the J-pop section.  Hmm…is it that any artist signed to Avex automatically gets labeled as pop?

I just forgot what I was about to write… Mm, okay, how about this:

Practical Vocabulary: 雨漏り (Amamori) When rainy season started at the end of June, there was a really heavy rain that somehow made my ceiling leak despite the fact that there are two apartments above me and they didn’t have leaks at all.  When the building manager came, it wasn’t raining anymore, so he couldn’t tell where it was coming from.  Then he went and repaired something, somewhere.  Then there was another really heavy rain and the leak came back.  The building manager came again and said it must be coming from the wall, somehow.  (The leak starts about one foot from the wall, runs across the ceiling to the center of the room, and trickles down by the light fixture.)  He told me they’d try to repair the wall, but since by that time rainy season was about to end he told me to please have patience.  And this is how I learned 雨漏り, “roof leak.”

Oh!  I remembered! It was this: Amateur Mistakes Lately I’ve been making amateur mistakes when filling out forms.  I had stopped reversing the radicals in one of the kanji in the name of the city I live in, but then I started doing it again.  When I went to buy a desk recently, I wrote 「福県」 (“fukuken”) instead of 「福岡県」(“Fukuoka-ken”).  I caught the mistake and stuck the 岡 in with a V mark.  ^_^; Yesterday, when I went to reserve GACKT’s upcoming single “EVER” (since I’ll be in the boonies when it gets released and I want to make sure I get a first-pressing DVD version) I wrote my phone number in the wrong spot, completely ignoring the bold “TEL ____ (______) ________” on the form.  (In my defense, I wrote it where I thought the clerk had pointed to.)  Of course, everyone screws up these little things every now and then even in their native language.  But I think it’s because I’ve become a bit complacent.  I know that I know enough Japanese to navigate on my own, so I pay less attention to what I’m doing.  Then again, I once had a mind fart and couldn’t remember my name for a good 5 seconds (this was back in the States, too) so maybe I’m just one huge space cadet.  ^o^;;;;;; (See?  This is why I’m afraid to drive.  I’m a responsible space cadet.)

Okay, I’ma stop ramblin’. Now that that’s out of my system, I’ll go study.  ^o^

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