Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Fridge is Full and the Floors are Clean

Hello all!

We've been very busy finishing up our training and getting our lives sorted out on this side of the world. Monday and Tuesday we had kids' class training. The kids' classes seem like they'll be a nice break from the regular Nova routine. In kiddie classes you take your shoes off and enter a carpeted room, then sing, dance, and jump around for 40 minutes...there's a very basic English theme to the lessons, much akin to being a host on Polk-a-dot-door, or Sesame St. In our training, we alternated acting the part of the class and instructors, and didn't get to play with any real little Japanese people. My first attempt at a kids' lesson will take place tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon.

My main branch is easy to get to, just a short train ride north of Nagoya, and it seems I have a good team of friendly coworkers.

In a voice lesson (that's the open discussion room) last week I posed this question:
"How would you describe philosophy?"
How's that for a nice discussion topic for ESL students? One of the girls was quite fluent and able to give a good response. I told her I was very impressed as I actually had no idea what it was, or how to define it.
The topic arose naturally because the class was eager to inquire about my personal details - me being the new instructor in town - and they were curious as to what I had done before coming to Japan.

Things are slowly but surely coming together here. I haven't been able to find any karate classes yet, but I'm sure those will come. We're still struggling to master some of the basic language, but that's coming along.
We have acquired some shelves for our room, so we no longer have to sleep amongst our own clutter.

We put up our Canadian flag, a picture that Dave gave us, and 2 prints that my friend Vince drew, giving the apartment a comfortable homey feeling.

EVERYWHERE there are Beatles' tunes playing, if you listen carefully. They are usually instrumental versions, but they are used as elevator music, in department stores, even when I called work and was put on hold.....wait...what is that? Let it Be???
We have found peanut butter!!! It tastes great, and we both missed it terribly.
Whenever you buy ANYthing it is wrapped about a hundred times, very neatly, and taped up just perfectly. Ex. I bought ketchup, and they gift wrapped it. The next day, I gave myself a bottle of ketchup as a present. I was very grateful and thanked myself very much.
We got a good deal on some speakers, and now have our mP3 players hooked up so we can listen to all our music all the time. It adds to the atmosphere and comfort of the apartment. It also adds to the Beatles theme that Japan has going on.

We went out for karaoke again, this time to a 24hour karaoke bar. Approximate price is $10 Canadian for 2 hours, all you can drink. The drinks are syrupy and watered down, but drinks and entertainment....I'm not complaining. We went out with a bunch of other teachers, only one of whom Tara knew by name. All the teachers are friendly like that.... we're all lost in the supermarket here, so it's easy to fairly easy to find people to hang out with for a night.

We finally made our way over to Nagoya castle, though it was quite late at night and we couldn't get up close to it. From afar it looks impressive, illuminated against the dark sky with golden dolphins crowning its roof. We biked all the way around the castle grounds, which are encircled by a moat. There were many people sitting and walking around the grounds as well. A group of about 40 highschool students were playing a large group game in an open field. It looked like a cross between red-rover and freeze-tag. They were silent and still for quite awhile, and then shocked me when they went screaming and running across the open field.

On Thursday we discovered a huge market shopping area. Many used clothing stores touting "Authentic American Style Vintage Clothing!" It was all pretty cool stuff. Rock n' roll t-shirts, and "real Levi's denim", and such things. The clothing here was all very cheap, but cool! This was a relief since we had previously only seen shopping in and around Nagoya station, which features the sorta designer names I thought only existed on Fashion Television back home.
Interestingly, we found this shopping district by passing through a buddhist temple. There were people making wishes (tossing in a coin and pulling a large rope to ring a bell), and wafting the smoke from burning incense into their faces. The whole temple had a powerful feeling to it.

Ok, those are my random observations for the day. Hopefully I'll have some more adventures to report soon.



Meaghan said...

:) it sounds awesome.
hahaa the kids lessons sound like a lot of fun too.
I missss youuuuuuuu! (both haha)

MomdadE said...

I am glad you are back on-line. Peanut butter is good. I hope you enjoy the kiddie classes tomorrow

Mom D said...

Glad you were able to find your peanut butter!! A little comfort food goes a long way! Missing you both. Lots of love

Daver said...

The kids lessons sound great! That's something I think I could get into hahahaha.

"I actually had no idea what it was, or how to define it." Hahahaha you majored in it and this is what you have to say...

But one last thing, what picture did I give you? Or some OTHER Dave that I should know about.

Derrick M said...

Hahah, I want everything I buy to be gift wrapped...

I also agree that the kid's lessons sound like fun!

your friends in Japan said...

Everyone - the kids lessons are alright so far, given that no one is watching you. The thing is that training was NOTHING compared to what it should be, and in my opinion some what age inapropriate for the older kids. For example, the lesson plan for my 11 year old student wanted me to have her singing the ABC's with me. Ummmmm.....I'm pretty sure thats just insulting. Haha
The Chibiko lessons (3 year olds) are easy because you just stick a cd on, do what it tells you, and let the parents run after the kids. You pretty much run through it whether the kids are watching or not.
The rest of them - well, pretty much just glorified daycare. They listen a bit but mostly you are trying to just get them to sit and behave. Either way, they are a nice break from the regular lessons, and the kids are really cute!

And yes - the peanut butter made me verrrry happy! I am still having food issues, so its at least nice to know I can always have a pb&j sandwich if worst comes!

Dave - the picture was from a Dave that I know. He is a customer at sbux, and hung out with us a few times. He is a photographer and gave me one of his pictures before I left!

Derrick - Yes, the gift wrapping if quite nice, however a bit silly. I thought this place was super environmental, and yet they waste more on wrapping everything that anywhere else I have ever seen!!

MomE said...

Re: kids. Theory and practice are two different things. Make sure you start with clear expectations about behaviour.Don't overwhelm them with rules. You have to be clear and simple. Decide what is most important such as: respect, politeness, listening. You need to explicitly talk about what 'listening', 'quiet', 'respect' looks like. For example, listening or quiet looks different in different situations, whether it's a group or one-on-one,and varies for different ages. I realize since this is an ESL situation these ideas are only somewhat useful. The thing is, you have to have order before any learning can take place.I learned that the hard way. Teaching is both art and science.

your friends in Japan said...

Meaghan - kids lessons are pretty fun. They don't really want to do the "lesson" per se, but it's fun to run around.

Dave - SHOWS WHAT I KNOW!!! I actually thought that YOU had given us the picture. Turns out it was another Dave!! I thought it was a bit unusual that you had given us a random picture. Makes more sense that it was the photographer who took it!
And who is the better philosopher, Dave, the one who is sure he knows what it is, or the one who is sure he knows not? achieve enlightenment. :P

Derrick - I'll bring you back some gift wrapped ketchup.

Mom - it's pretty hard to lay down expectations and rules. Mostly you play a game of sherrades, with a few touches of English language thrown in. I think they know what they're supposed to do, but they also realize that if they just run around like crazy I can't really do much to stop them. Most of the kids lessons involve turning language into a game, which they seem to respond to ok.

Meaghan said...

hahaha Dave got told

Alexandra said...

PEANUT BUTTER!!!!!(Yum...) So, the kids lessons do sound fun, and I guess it's sorta like when my french teacher tries to teach my class french. I really wanna take karate too, but something tells me I have to wait till next year. Japan sounds sooooo different than Canada!(even though I already knew it was different!) The fact that it's different makes me wanna visit more!!!!!
Love ya Tara & Ian!!!

your friends in Japan said...

Alexandra - YUM indeed!!! I was soooo happy when we found it. I have peanut butter and toast everyday now!
And you are right, Japan is VERY different from Canada, and thats what makes it exciting! (I still say you should tell your Mom and Dad to send you to see us, hehe).
Your French class must be pretty rowdy if its anything like these kids classes!! They are LOUD!
It would be sooo cool if you took Karate! I bet you would have tons of fun with it!!
Anyways, off to work now!!

Love ya!!