Wednesday, March 25, 2009

farewell hello

Yesterday we had our school closing ceremony and farewell enkai for the teachers who are retiring or transferring.

Tonight I'm off to meet the deer in Nara and see a few cherry blossoms in Kyoto. Enjoy the rest of your week and weekend!

Hello, Spring! So good to see you! ;)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lucky Clover and SUPER Banana

As I looked down at the students cleaning the courtyard the other day, I asked them if they were finding any lucky clover. They said no, and went back to sweeping and pruning the grass. I got some of the extra 4-leaf clover window decals (thanks, Aunt Barbara!) and showered them down... Wow! What a stir it caused! They were all really happy to find such good luck during cleaning time! :)

Today, in our last class of the school year, the first year students presented original commercials in English about a generic product they were assigned.

Here are some of the memorable products...

*S*U*P*E*R* Banana!

When you eat these bananas, you become a *superstar*!

"FLASH Hatz"

Wear this hat and you get new ideas in a flash!

(I especially liked the fact that they not only sewed a light bulb into the top of the hat, but also offered a second, more powerful bulb as a bonus gift if you ordered a Flash Hat today! Their slogan "Hat de Hot" is really a Japanese phrase, but I thought it had a cool international sound & good meaning, so I didn't give them too much grief about using Japanese)

***Featuring a is patented
"three stratum structure" -
the outside is soda, middle is chocolate, and a variety of fruit flavors in the inner core.
(can you tell this was from the science track students?)

Angel Ring Shampoo
('before' photo)

"Help scientists in the world!"
Use this shampoo for clean, beautiful, straight hair.

(Because, I guess scientists are notorious for having problems with their hair??? I think the the name, Angel Ring, had something to do with having an angel's halo.
I really admired this student's willingness to get up in that 'get up'! Her costume was a big hit! I like how they targeted a specific population, too.)

Good job, students! The teachers and I were really impressed with your creativity and bravery!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Top o'the Ev'ning to ya!
Have I mentioned how much I love the teachers here? This guy is GREAT. In the special ed music class, he plays guitar like he's in a mariachi group, and I always tease him by telling him he's not really Japanese - he's Mexican! He's always really outgoing, and he's so good with the kids. He always cracks me up with his antics (as you can see in this photo!). Tuesday night we had an enkai (eating and drinking party to celebrate the middle school graduation) and I brought along some festive accessories so everyone had a chance to celebrate properly. It was great fun explaining (in my FABulous Japanese, of course) the concepts of Ireland's patron saint, St. Patrick's Day parades, shamrocks, rainbows, leprechauns, pot o'gold, and green beer???

Since I don't like beer, I ordered ao ringo chuhai (blue/green apple mixer with shochu), a lovely green cocktail. They ran out of green apple chuhai, though, and since the lime chuhai they brought out looked like engine coolant, I added some food coloring to the drink you see me holding in the other photo here. Cheers!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Since there are a few Irish ALTs, and a large number of people who like to drink beer here, there are usually a few St. Patrick's Day parties in the bars that cater to foreigners. Sadly, conflicting schedules prevented me from attending official parties around the ken, but tomorrow night I have an enkai (eating and drinking party) with my colleagues from the special ed school. I'm hoping there will be enough beer flowing to make them loose enough to don my fabulous St. Patty's hat & smile for a few photos :) Maybe I'll smuggle in some food coloring to make the beer a little more festive...
Here are some of the bigger "cuties" holding their lucky charms in front of the board I did for St. Patrick's Day. It was a lot of fun getting the students' help in translating some of the material for the board. They didn't really know what leprechauns were, but apparently they also believe in there being a treasure at the end of the rainbow.
In honor of the holiday tomorrow, I am making some Irish Soda Bread, but can't find any buttermilk in this country. Has anyone ever tried using milk+lemon or milk+vinegar as a substitute? Either one better than the other?

Friday, March 13, 2009

"I got in!"

OK, well I didn't, but that's basically what teachers here have been hearing all morning. The teacher room has been a lively place today! Apparently our graduates just found out whether or not they got into university (yes, these guys have all graduated, but are back on campus IN uniform!). I don't remember if I explained this last year at this time, but students in Japan graduate from high school on March 1 (even if it falls on a Sunday!), find out whether or not they got in to university mid-March, and start university the first week of April. Quick turn-around, ne! They've been taking university entrance exams since the end of January, and from what I understand, they focus on one university. I've heard that if they don't get in to that uni, they wait a year to try again. No wonder the kids are so stressed here. It seems like when students take entrance exams for middle school*, high school, and uni, they pretty much put all their eggs in one basket. If they don't get in to the high school of their choice, they have to go to a private school (remember, high school - 10th-12th grade - isn't mandatory). My main school here is a high-level academic school, so the students come here because they want to get in to a good university. What's really nice is the fact that the students have a tradition of coming back to the school on March 13 to thank the teachers for helping them along the way.

*some middle schools also have entrance exams

do you know what "banana" is in Japanese?

...would you believe - it's banana! :)

I had the cuties over again, and as you can see, they're a great help when it comes to mashing bananas for banana-choco-chip muffins! When the muffins were baking, we did the silly banana song ("Peel/Eat/Go Bananas, go go bananas!") with actions, of course. I couldn't believe it when the little ones remembered the words! We haven't done the song since last summer!

ps - I was good & kept my Lenten promise to not have any chocolate - I gave all the muffins away, even though the choco chips made them look/smell sooooo good!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hello! Back on the planet now.
When I tried downloading the other photos from graduation, there was a problem with my card, so, here are some more good "Engrish" bits from my business trip to Yokohama this week. Hope they make you smile, too.

L and YOU
Spring is coming on you
Yea! I can no longer see my breath when I'm in my apartment! Cherry trees are beginning to bloom! Spring IS coming! and I'll let you interpret the "on you" part :)

Sorry, I have no idea what/who"L" is.


Please be carful to steps.

The kanji reads

Ashimoto ni, gochuui kudasai. Which, in the way I usually hear it, translates to Please watch your step. However, in this case, the sign was in a stepped, marble fountain (you can see the water at the base of the sign), yet I don't think you were supposed to 'step' in/on it. I also didn't see any cars anywhere, either.


I'm Cherry Boy

This cracks me up - I just wonder who the target audience is for this (what appears to be) underwear.

One of the things we discussed at the conference yesterday was the concept of International English. When I was living in the US, I never really thought about "other" Englishes, except for the occasional cool Brit or Aussie accent I heard in movies. However, since I've been here, I've been learning about this concept of there being an "inner circle" (UK, USA, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand), an "outer circle" (countries that are/were under the influence of UK/US control), and "expanding circle" (English has no official status in these countries, but is often used in business, academia, etc.). Think about all the dialects within the US and UK alone. A moment ago, one of the teachers asked me about the "correctness" of a particular expression that a student had used to answer a test question. While the grammar wasn't incorrect, I understood the meaning, and therefore answered that it wasn't a standard American English expression. I've always been intrigued by the study of languages, and this new concept of International English, along with all of its implications, is interesting to me.
Hope you're enjoying all the random acts of Engrish

from around here. :)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Sunday was a sad, happy day since it was my last graduation here.
These sannensei (third year students, seniors) were my first year students when I got here in 2006. The ones right around me in this photo were the same ouendan club guys I photographed after graduation two years they're passing the torch on to their kohai (junior members) as they set off for university.
More graduation pics & 'how Tracey got into that get-up' pics later when I'm on my computer.
My birthday was fairly quiet (outside of some slight hyperventilating on my part while I was watching Hugh Jackman in Australia). Thank you all for the cards and well-wishes!