As sad as it sounds, I have given up on teaching the 3rd years English. It’s clear that 90% of them could care less about the language and they’d rather just slack around during class. They don’t respect the JTE enough to follow the lesson so why should I bother? It feels like the JTE and I have this secret agreement where she tries to teach them everything in Japanese while I try to do crowd control or keep them entertained. This might sound like they’re crazy kids, but they aren’t too bad. They just do stuff an average bored high schooler would do like draw pictures, take a nap, fool around with their school supplies, throw paper balls, etc.
Ever since I became more of a support teacher, my students have been talking to me a lot more. I think splitting the classroom into two helped a lot as well. With half the size, I can recognize my student’s names as well as their personalities.
The first class I teach is 3-B. 3-B is mostly on the quiet end. I teach English to them right after lunch so I’ll usually be in the classroom as soon as lunch is over. Misa and Yuka are usually the first ones in. These two are pretty good friends. They’ve always paid some attention to class so I like them. I also have started to mess with them a lot. Saying “American joke” goes a long way when you confuse them. For example:
Student A: “Hey, I found this poster for the Cultural Festival! Someone has really worked on it, the calligraphy is excellent!”
Misa: “Wow, the handwriting for the kanji is really good!”
Yuka: “You’re right, whose is it I wonder?”
Me: “Oh that’s me.”
Both: “HUH? Really?!”
Me: Nope. I lied.
Me: “American joke.”
Now, whenever they make a joke or somehow manage to fool me, they will say “Japanese joke”.
Another thing the 3rd year girls like to do is have me read Japanese. Usually, there is something on the blackboard when we all come in. “Diego! Can you read some of it?” they’ll ask.
“Only a little.”
“Read it, read it!”
“Uhh, okay.” I’ll struggle my way through it and they really get a kick out of my mistakes. However, when I actually read a couple of sentences without any help, they get all amazed and start applauding. It never fails to amuse them.
Another girl I’ve been talking to a lot lately is Miku. Miku used to be really quiet and not say a single word to me. At first I thought it was because she didn’t like me but then I realized that she’s super shy (like most of the girls in her class). When we were passing out test papers back one day, I saw that she got a really high score. “Whoa, you’re actually good at English!” I said to her. She just gave me a smile and a nod, happy to hear my compliments. Ever since then, we would communicate through small gestures like a thumbs up or a nod. Sometimes I will make a funny face or mock some other kid to make her laugh. She’s really sweet. Lately though, she’s been having the nerve to talk to me in English. Soon after that, we would be talking in Japanese. She apparently knows she’s good at English because she’s not afraid to brag. One time, she forgot to do her homework.
JTE: Miku! You forgot to do your homework!
Miku: It was only this one time though! I always do my homework!
JTE: That doesn’t excuse you, though!
Miku: It’s okay, I’m good at English. Right, Diego?
Me: Don’t pull me into this, Miku!
Maybe because she’s better than most of the students there, she has begun to slack off. Last week I caught her throwing an eraser in the air and catching it while she moved her hands across her body. Other students would have to guess which hand she had the eraser. I walk by her as she’s doing it:
Miku: *tosses eraser in the air*
Me: *walks by*
Miku: Hm, what’s wrong everyone? *turns around* Ah.
Me: What’s up?
Miku: *points at her hands* Which one?
Me: *smacks her gently upside the head* At least pretend that you’re paying attention!
Miku: Sorry, sorry.
Miku: Wrong! Right!
I made her do it again after class and I guessed it right. I purposely cheered like an idiot when I did, which made everyone crack up. Even the Hart sisters, the girls that never dare say a word to me, have been coming up to me and asking me random questions. It’s so weird!
It’s amazing because last year, most of these kids wanted nothing to do with me. I just got stares from everyone and no one wanted to participate in anything. At least nowadays, the third years are talking to me, even if it’s not related to anything to class. That’s internationalization in some aspect, right??