Sunday, December 24, 2017

Japanese Teachers of English Wanted

There has been an offer for me to teach English. The new job will start in 2018. Do you know why I have been selected? I am Japanese. That's right. The job condition specifically demands the instructor to be Japanese. This is a case of discrimination. If someone decides to hire someone else based on the person's nationality, it constitutes a case of racial discrimination. Racial discrimination usually works against me, but not this time. Should I be thankful?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

I'm sorry.

A Japanese celebrity Hideyuki Nakayama made a comment that shows how the Japanese psychology works. During a Fuji Television show, Non Stop, he talked about his unexpected encounter with a Japanese comedian Ken Shimura. The program was televised on August 2, 2017.

Hideki Nakayama: I had a TV program to appear at 9:30 in the morning and I was in my waiting room at 9:00 o’clock. I saw Mr. Ken Shimura coming out of his waiting room. I said to him, “Why are you in so early?” I knew he had a program to appear at 10:00 a.m. He said, "I don’t want to be late and say sorry to start my day.” I said, “I’m sorry,” to him.

Interesting. Why do you think Hideki Nakayama said he was sorry?I'

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Confusion at Subway Service Counter

If you lived in Tokyo, Japan, you might know what a PASMO card is, which is an electronic ticket for the subway. With a PASMO card, subway ride will be made easy. People place it over the electronic screen of a ticket gate and the gate doors open. 

A PASMO card is also a debit card. You can deposit money if it is short of fund. A few weeks ago, I tried to add 40,000 yen into my PASMO card, which caused some confusion between a subway station man and me.

It should be easy to add money to a PASMO card. Insert a PASMO card into a PASMO terminal located in a subway station. Follow the depositing instructions on the screen. Insert money into the cash slot. For the reason I did not know, the PASMO terminal I used did not follow this standard procedure and I could not deposit 40,000 yen.

I went to the service counter to explain what happened. I said, "Can I deposit 40,000 yen into my PASMO card?” to the man who sat behind the desk. He did not answer my question but said, "How much do you have in your PASMO card?" I said, "A little over 10,000 yen." He said, “Deposit 5,000 yen and add 10 yen at a time.” 

Being thoroughly confused, I returned to the PASMO terminals corner and operated on another terminal - with the same results. 

I returned to the service counter, thinking the terminals I used might have limited functions for the customers and maybe the man could manipulate the terminals in the office to allow the deposit of 40,000 yen for me.

I explained this idea to him and he said, “Make the deposit of 5,000 yen. Add 10 yen at a time," like he was a broken record. He would be insane to hint the addition of 10 yen at a time until the entire deposit reaches 40,000 yen, 

I said, “I asked you a simple question. Give me a simple answer.” He said, “OK. What is your question?” I said, “Would it be possible to deposit 40,000 yen?” He said, “I told you. The answer is no!” 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

My New Class

My new class was Current Issues in the World. This meant the students would read English newspapers. Not only that they would discuss global issues in English. This also meant they were holders of advanced skills of English.

When the class began, my students were not near the level. Some of them did not know that the plural form of ‘she’ was ‘they.’ They knew about verb conjugated but did not know that the past tense of ‘go’ was ‘went.’ They said, “Yes, I am,” to the question of, “Do you like tea?” This short answer, by the way, was the maximum they could say.

I met the head instructor of the English Department to talk about the condition. He said, “Change the contents.” I said it was easy to do but the class was Current Issues in the World. He said, “Never mind. The students’ level is not up to the level, right?” I said OK and changed the nature of the course. I discussed basic grammar like the plural form of “she” was “they.” The past tense of “go” was “went.” If I said, “Do you like tea?” the correct answer was, “Yes, I do,” not, “Yes, I am.” If they did not like tea, the correct answer was, “No I don’t,” not, “No I do.” I did that for three months and my students finished Current Issues in the World.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Young people don't know how to show respect.

President Hirata said, “Young people today don’t know how to show respect,” to me.

Well…I thought so, too, because it was sad to see your students walk toward you and say nothing to you.

A few months later, this was what happened.

When a student came to the instructors’ lounge, he or she would stand erect in front of the closed door and shout, “My name is such and such! I belong to the class such and such! I came to talk to Professor such and such! May I come in?” Whoever sits near the door would say, “Come in!” and the student would say, “Thank you!” open the door, and go into the instructors’ lounge.

Well… this is not what I had in mind.

New Academic Year Meeting

There were about 50 instructors in the New Academic Year meeting. I was the only English instructor. Everybody else had his or her own subject to teach.

President Hirata finished his speech and asked the instructors if they had any questions. Everybody did not say a word. It was like they were waiting for the moment to finish.

I broke the silence by asking a question. I knew everybody in the room had similar problems and I thought that my question would trigger some active discussions.

I talked about the apathy that occupied my students. I also mentioned the difficulty of organizing an active class. President Hirata said, “That’s because you don’t know how to teach, Mr. Sekino. Write something on the whiteboard and make your students copy what you write. That’ll keep them busy.”

He said this in front of the 50 instructors.

The meeting soon finished.

Roll Calling

I cautiously opened the front door of the classroom to avoid a falling eraser of the whiteboard in the classroom that would hit my head.

When I entered the classroom, the students were already engaged in animated conversations. They were laughing and chatting so hard that they did seem to notice me when I stood in front of them.

It was an elective class with 12 students. The serious three sat in the front rows. The rest of the students sat in the two rows in the back.

The students' noise was so loud that they would not be able to hear my voice even if I yelled. In fact, I had yelled before and had stopped doing that because it was silly. The students were sitting right in front of you.

The students' noise would come in alternating waves of high peaks and low peaks. A high peak lasted more than 30 seconds and a low peak did only a few seconds. I called the names of two or three students during the first low peak and waited for the second low peak. The three in the front row gave me a sympathetic look as I patiently waited.

Then, I saw the face of a young man I had never seen before. The course was already half into the term and it was not the time for a new student to join. He was not a new student. In fact, he was my student all right. He had answered when his name was called, had hidden behind other students, and had slept the next 90 minutes since the first class.

I said to myself, “That's it! I had enough!” I closed my roll book and told the students that I would quit. I walked to the president's office but he was not there. I walked to the teachers’ lounge and found the vice president. I told him that my job was to teach adults, not children. I left the roll book on his desk and left the vocational school.