Sunday, November 30, 2008
The lesson was about softening criticism and there was a lot of focus on phrases like, "I'm sorry, but..." "I'm afraid that..." "Maybe you could try..." Toward the end of the lesson, there's usually a lot of free conversation, where the students are given something to talk about and they have to try and use the target phrases. In this case, I paired them up and gave them different cards with scenarios on them. For example, Student A was a parent and Student B was their child's teacher - they were at a parent-teacher conference and Student B had to inform Student A that their child was doing poorly in school. Since I had an odd number of students, I paired up with someone and the conversation went something like this:
Partner (Student B): "I'm a little concerned with your son's attitude in school."
Me (Student A): "Why? Isn't Bobby doing well? He's so smart and I'm so proud of him."
Partner: "He's very smart, but...I'm sorry to tell you that his last test scores were horrible."
Me (whispering): "Remember - softened criticism!"
Partner: "Oh, right, right...his test scores were...not so good."
In another scenario, Student A and Student B were married and getting ready to go to a party; Student A had to tell Student B that he/she didn't approve of their spouse's outfit. One of the pairs in my class spent a looooong time on this particular scenario - and when I checked in on them, I found out why:
Me: "What is going on? How can you possibly still be on this scenario?"
Student A: "He says that if I don't like his outfit, he'll just take off all his clothes!"
Meanwhile, Student B is just cracking up, along with me and the rest of the class. Oh, man...that was a perfect way to end a stressful week.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Because how many times have you said to yourself, "Man, I could really go for some octopus balls right now..."
After taking the local train from Fujieda to Shizuoka, Michiko and her friend Kana picked me up at the station. We headed to their friends' "mansion" (a Japanese apartment with more than two rooms) and the takoyaki party began.
Just in case any of you back home want to make your very own takoyaki (and I mean, really - who doesn't?), here's what you do:
1. Get yourself a nice slab of octopus.
2. Add some batter to your takoyaki pan.
3. Drop in some of that chopped octopus goodness.
4. And some squid if you're feeling daring.
5. Add some chopped onions and pickled ginger.
6. Get your friends to help you flip the balls so they cook evenly.
7. Keep flipping until...
8. ...they are a nice golden brown. Then you can add some okonomiyaki sauce, dried fish and dried seaweed.
And, actually, they weren't that bad. There was enough batter to kind of mask the fact that there was octopus even in them. I didn't throw up at the table, which is always a good sign. But will I go out and by a takoyaki pan so I can make some octopus balls at home? Probably not.
9. Smile with your new friends because you just survived your first takoyaki party!
And last night, they lit the Christmas lights near Fujieda Station, right in front of my school. I took a quick photo tonight on my way home:
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Saturdays are the busiest days at work - I will be teaching lessons pretty much back to back for eight hours (with an hour and a half break). At the beginning of the week, I observed Jen while she taught. In the middle of the week, I taught some and she taught some. Today, I taught all of the lessons but one. I was pretty nervous at the beginning of the day - just anxious about the lessons and hoping that everything would go smoothly.
All in all, I think it went really well. My students are great - I've been getting along with them well. There's still a lot of information for me to learn, but I think I'll be fine.
I'll miss Jen, though! I've gotten so used to having her around to help me and answer my questions. It's been really fun getting to know her.
And after work, I went to Jen's goodbye to Fujieda party and had a great time. I met some more foreigners and had some good conversations. It was really nice to talk to some people who have been in Japan for a few years and share some of the struggles that we've experienced.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
(Jen and Miho enjoying some nabe)
And yesterday night, we went to the Gato Rojo - a Mexican restaurant about a 15 minute walk from my apartment. Everything is 500 yen (about $5). I was so happy to have some Mexican food - we had such a hard time finding some when we were in Japan in 2005. It was great to spend some time with some of my co-workers. AND, they play classic rock - incredible. This might be my new favorite restaurant.
me, Yusaku, Hiromi, Jen, and Miho
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
On another note...
I love Skype. I've talked to Mallory twice now and it's so good to hear a friendly voice from home. The call was clear and without delay - and free. So...those of you who haven't downloaded Skype yet - DEW IT. Then call me. I can't tell you how great it is to actually hear someone's voice when you are a world apart.
Monday, November 17, 2008
my bike, which I've decided to name "Popeye the Sailor Man"
It's coming along. I bought a really pretty wall hanging today for about $10.00, and I am planning on putting up a lot more photos from home.
Be sure to check out some more photos from my adventures today in Fujieda!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
"American movies in my hotel."
"So many encouraging blog comments from home."
"Warm weather in the middle of November!"
"The random guy on the street corner that says 'Hello' to me every night."
"Feeling more relaxed during my lessons and slowing down my speaking speed."
"The nice businessman in the elevator this morning."
Monday, November 10, 2008
Since I am the only one training in Nagoya this week, it`s been intense. Yesterday, I was at Honbu (main office) from 10 am - 7 pm (with an hour lunch break). My brain is pretty overwhelmed with all the info I`ve been listening to and reading. And tomorrow I teach my first lesson to real students - and I`m nervous. I know that once I`ve been here for a while and have a ton of lessons under my belt, it will be second nature and no big thing. BUT until then - nervous.
Today was the first day that I didn`t wake up at 4 am (Breakfast at Tiffany`s was on TV last night, so that helped me stay awake).
Ans of course, there`s the homesickness, which I anticipated would be lurking around. It hits me mostly in the mornings, when I have an hour or two before I have to start my day. I know it will subside (but not disappear completely) when I get settled at my school and feel more like a resident than a tourist.
But, truly, I consider myself blessed to have the opportunity to be back in Japan.
Sorry I haven`t posted any photos - my laptop is out of commission until Saturday.
So, friends, if you could send a little prayer up for me, it would be so appreciated. Please pray for calm nerves, a clear voice, and slow speaking during my lessons, a joyful heart in the mornings, and thankfulness.
Much love from the Far East!
Saturday, November 8, 2008
My laptop power cable got forwarded to my apartment (I thought I was bringing my carry-on to training, but it was recommended that I forward it so I would have less bags to carry to the hotel) - so I won't be on the computer as much as I would like. I will be on much more when I get to Fujieda on Saturday.
Wish me luck for my training and I'll catch up with you all later!
Sunday, November 2, 2008
What incredible people I am blessed to have in my life.
Thanks and love to all.