Friday’s 6-3 is rivaling to be my favorite elementary school class. They might not be the brightest bunch, but they’re hilarious. They were always funny when I was the main teacher but things have gotten even more ridiculous when I was switched over to be an assistant teacher. Now that Nishikawa-sensei, the home room teacher, is heading the English classes, participation has skyrocketed, as well as some antics.
Teaching 6-3 feels like being part of a manzai group. Manzai is essentially the “straight man/funny man” comedy routine. Its origins are from Osaka so one encounters references to it pretty often around here. In a manzai duo, there are two roles. The boke is the “funny man” but more or less plays the idiot role. The other role is the tsukkomi, aka the straight man. The tsukkomi is the person that will smack the boke and call him a moron or insult him in some comedic way. Timing is very important for the tsukkomi. Why am I explaining this to you? This is how 6-3 operates. The students are the boke, while Nishikawa-sensei and I are the tsukkomi. Here’s one example when we were practicing months:
E: “That’s ri-WRONG!”
It’s hard to describe it through words, but it’s really funny to just tsukkomi them. They don’t care either, they find it just as funny as we do.
I’d like to think that Nishikawa-sensei’s English is half the reason this class is great. While not the greatest, Nishikawa’s English is pretty damn good compared to the rest of the school’s staff. One thing that really helps is his confidence. While some teachers are hesitant and self-conscious when speaking English, Nishikawa could care less. He’ll be belting out “GOOD AFTERNOON CLASS!” like he doesn’t give a shit. If kids see their teacher speaking English, they’ll be encouraged to as well. Whenever he approves of someone’s pronunciation, he’ll always yell out “Oh, good intonation!” I don’t have the heart to correct him because it’s great the way he says it.
I’m not sure if I mentioned this before, but the 6th grade at my Friday school uses the point system. Each student has a map of the U.S. with hundreds of little circles surrounding the borders. Whenever a student gets a question right, does something good or volunteers, they usually get a point. For every point, they get to color in a circle on their map. Point distribution depends on the class I’m in. It definitely helps when it comes to participation; these students will do just about anything to get points. What happens when you fill in all the circles, I have no idea but it must be something awesome.
Anyways, the point system has a clear influence in all of my classes, including 6-3. The way Nishikawa awards them to the kids is hilarious. He’ll be belting out “Oh Kouki, very good intonation, 2 points!”
Other kid: “What about me, teacher??”
Nishikawa: “You’re whining too much. Minus 3 points!”
Other kid: “Oh no!” (in English)
Nishikawa: *laughs* “Excellent reaction! PLUS ONE POINT!”
Me: “Okay, time to practice sports vocab! Repeat after me! Soccer!”
Everyone : “Soccer!”
E: “BODYBALL! (silly pose)”
M: “Whaaat? I said volleyball not (mocking students’ pose) BODYBALL!”
Miki, the girl who gave me lyrics to translate resides in 6-3. She tends to be very loud and extremely silly. Nishikawa calls her the “Queen of Loud”. When Miki asks us what we’re talking about when we talk about her, I always say “Oh, we’re talking about how good you are in class.”
Miki: “Yaaay! *thumbs up*”
Nishikawa: “(in English) He’s lying! You’re really loud. REALLY loud. Like the QUEEN of loud.”
Miki: “What’s loud? I know what queen is though! Yaay, queeeen!”
Miki never wears her English nametag. When she was sitting in the front, I made it a habit to put it over her head just so she could get used to doing it. The first time I did it, she simply grinned and said “Aa, ii kanji!” (this feels nice!). For some reason, her reply stuck to me. Nishikawa then yelled “Miki, put on your friggin’ nametag on! You don’t get any points if you don’t have it on!” By the fourth time I’m putting it over her head, everyone seems to have noticed.
I sighed at her, “Geez, you’re hopeless. This is the last time I’m doing this.”
Suddenly Nishikawa and everyone else starts humming some generic romantic theme as I lift the nametag over her head. I decide to jump in and hum along with them as well as put the nametag over her head in slow motion. She’s clearly embarrassed but too busy giggling at the whole situation. The second I put it on her, Nishikawa cuts the song and yells “MIKI! No nametag on for the billionth time! Minus 5 points!” (point reductions are never serious, they’re mainly there for the comedic factor).
There are more characters in this classroom, which I’ll go into another time. Needless to say, 6-3 is the highlight of my Fridays.