Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Training-Day 2-First Japanese student (poor soul)

Today was day numero dos of training. ONLY day 2. Last night was spent (aside from writing blogs and such), making lesson plans for our poor victims that we were going to inflict our English teaching methods on. So, after a quick trip to the ever elegant 7-11 next to my hotel, side stepping the hookers and boozers, and enjoying a delicious meal of frozen fettuccine microwaved to perfection with a side of Triscuits, I perfected my lesson. I had it down to a T. It was so great that I could deliver it flawlessly.

So, Tuesday rolls around very early (I swear time moves faster in BC) and we head over to training where they tell us all about this and that. They then send us off to the school where we will meet our unsuspecting Japanese students who have willingly signed up for a free lesson.

I am feeling good. Confident, even. This will be no problem. After all, I speak English and they don't. I already have one up on them, and that is the place a teacher should always be. One step ahead.

So, I proceed with my lesson. Now, being a New Yorker, speed is only an issue when someone is going too slow. Either driving too slow, talking too slow, thinking too slow, and we tend to fill in the blanks for them, feeling sure that our answer is better anyway. If someone can't make a decision, we swoop in and decide for them. If someone has not finished their sentence in 0.5 seconds, we finish it for them. It is what we do. It is expected, and therefore a way of life.

Apparently, the Japanese do not like this method. They actually like to think about the questions we ask them for about 8 seconds. They also like to speak their own sentences. I was unaware of this, and very efficiently filled in the students blanks, answered my own questions, and even had a conversation all by myself. But, I will say, it was ALL in English, and therefore, I did something right.

The lesson went something like this:

Me: "Today, we are going to talk about what you like to do after work, OK?"

Student:(no response in 0.5 seconds-still processing what I said-too slow).

Me: "Do you like to go to the park after work?"

Student: "Uh".... (0.5 seconds)

Me: (In my head-"why is she not responding, too slow, question boring, move on! Move on!") "How about going to the theater after work?"

Student: "Uh...theeta?"

Me: "Yes, theater, you know, comedy and tragedy, people on stage, costumes, no? You don't know? OK, what can I say about theater...Broadway, lights, actors, they sing. I saw this great show in New York about this farce on the president, God, America is a mess right now, with Nathan Lane. You know Nathan Lane? No? Well, he is great he...well anyway, that's another subject. So, where were we. Oh, yes activities. OK, how about going to the gym?"

Stunned Student: "Mm, I like to go to the g-"

Me: (cut off student-too slow) "To the gym, good, ok, how about...."

And then I proceeded to do the rest of the lesson in a speed that only light could follow. After all, my English is damn good.

My evaluation from my company was good overall believe it or not, except that I speak too fast, to myself, and for others, and in Japan, this is frowned upon. THEY like to speak for themselves and THEY need time (more than 0.5 seconds) to answer questions. What kind of country is this?

Tomorrow will be a better day. I promised to take a sedative before my lesson so I don't stun my student into an English stupor.

Love and miss all of my fellow fast talkin', fast thinkin' New Yorkers (and of course, all of you others that keep me on planet earth...)


Monday, July 14, 2008

My first blog ever....so this could suck

Hello all!

I am writing this blog to see how to do it. I have not used this fancy WWW tool, so I may do this all wrong.

Anyway, no, I am not in Japan. Not yet. I am in Vancouver, BC in TRAINING!!!!!!!!! It is a very arduous process, but I am sure important. I am not really good at sitting in a room all day talking about rules and regulations, so this is a challenge. I am more a "fly by the seat of my pants" kind of girl, so all this formality is a chore. Grrrrrr!

Anyhoo, Vancouver is beautiful! If you have not been, I highly recommend it. It is a city surrounded by water and mountains that are so close you feel as if you can touch them. It almost looks like a Hollywood set: pristine, lush, and fake. Of course the street my hotel is on is full of hookers, pawn shops, and pornography, but it makes me feel like I am at home in NYC. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder anyway, right? Ah, I miss New York....

My training has been fine so far. Nothing real exciting to report except what I have to look forward to when I move to Japan, namely earthquakes and TYPHOONS! OK, earthquakes I knew about, but typhoons? What the....? The company I work for now assures me that the island that I will be living peacefully on only experiences about 20-30 per year (20-30 PER YEAR??). AND, most of them are small, but that I may have about 5 big ones (BIG ONES???).

OK, what does that mean? Something about staying inside and boarding up my windows was the advice I was given. But then I asked about flooding, and the manager just says nonchalantly, "oh yes, of course..." Then she moved on to a new topic. That was the end of my typhoon discussion (FLOODING???).

Now, this may seem like it could be a trivial and perhaps a rare occurrence that won't infringe on my life and most likely, that will be the case. However, let me remind you that I am somewhat prone to natural disasters. Let me clarify:

1) In 2000, Seattle had an earthquake of 7.3 or so, one of the biggest in decades...where was I? In Seattle.
2) In 2001, NYC experienced 9/11....where was I? In NYC.
3) In 2004 (I think) NYC experienced the blackout....where was I? In NYC
4) In 2007, Costa Rica experienced a huge hurricane (the name escapes me)....where was I? In Costa Rica.
5) In 2008, Kyushu, Japan has a typhoon with 100ft high waves and torrential rain....where will I be? Kyushu.

I always hope for the best, but plan for the worst, then laugh because planning never matters anyway.

I miss you all so much already!!