Monday, July 13, 2009

Hilarity Monday - Teaching English Edition

Whoa! This entry's a bit late. But it's still pretty early Monday for y'all, right?

So, yes, this blog has been intermittent lately. Thank you to those of you still reading, and extra thanks to those of you commenting. Things have just been super hectic the past couple weeks, and they are only going to get crazier. This is my last week teaching classes, and I leave Yatsushiro early next week. After that, I'm just all over the damn place. So I will do my best to keep the blog going with at least one entry per week, but it's going to be a while before things settle down. I do hope you'll forgive me.

Haven't been doing much knitting, what with the crazy busy and the ridiculous heat. But Brenda's baby shower was this past Saturday and it went very well, in spite of all my last minute freak-outs. She loved the blanket, hat, and booties, and I hope to get a bit of time to finish the sweater before I leave. She also got some adorable baby things, and really one of the delights of shopping for this stuff in Japan is the great Engrish you can put on your baby. There was a onesy that had an illustration of two dolphins and the words "Struggle for a ball!", a bib that said "I <3 MEAL" (except with a real heart graphic, not the punctuation), and another bib that said "Funky Baby." Brilliant.

Yes, Engrish is just one of the many things I will miss about Japan. I'm drinking another right now, C.C. Lemon. It has 70 lemons' worth of Vitamin C in it, don't you know.

Another thing I will miss is the hilarious-ness of teaching, or attempting to teach, English. Perhaps you all know that the Japanese have some trouble with "l" and "r", often confusing one for the other, so that innocent words such as "election" and "clap" become ridiculously funny when spoken by some people.

Also, Japanese grammar is fundamentally different from English, and words can be translated in the dictionary that are used in totally different ways in the two languages. For instance, "enjoy" gets thrown around a lot because it would be perfectly acceptable to simply say that in Japanese, but in English it becomes weird - not always wrong, but not natural. Examples include "Let's enjoy studying English now!" or "I will enjoy this weekend." Sometimes they try to make it better but make it worse: "Let's enjoying cleaning time!" Some of us blame Coca-Cola for this, with their giant "Enjoy Coke!" ads all over the place since the dawn of time.

Sometimes the word for "enjoy" gets translated as "pleasure," so I get gems like this one on student papers: "This fall, we will go to Osaka as a school trip. I will pleasure USJ." USJ, by the way, means Universal Studios Japan. I got paper after paper of kids writing about how they're going to Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara, which are famous for USJ and takoyaki. It's just a different world, folks. Then again, they are teenagers, so they're going to have a different perspective anyway.

In honor of my last week of being a teacher of English to Japanese kids, I bring you this video. It is a bit long, but hilarious. At least I think so, but then I've been in Japan for two years. Once or twice a year there's this TV special, of which this is a clip. The special involves a group of four comedians who get put into some weird situation for about 24 hours, and every time they laugh they get spanked with a whip. You don't need to understand Japanese to find this funny, but I think you do need to be Japanese to have ever dreamed it up. In any case, this is a clip from the one where they had to pretend they were in school. Since the whole joke is to make them laugh so they can get spanked, the people who create the show do all sorts of bizarre things to them to make them laugh.

Now, my English classes do not involve the beating of children or grown men, but just take a listen to the accent and pronunciation of that guy in the video and feel a bit of empathy, kay?

Lotions, indeed.

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