my burogu

How it's going, like.

Friday, June 23, 2006

World Cup mumblings

This morning it was Japan v Brazil at 4am. Japan needed to win, and hope that Australia didn't beat the Croats. I didn't get up to watch it as I thought that Japan had no chance. After 34 minutes everything was looking rosy. Japan were beating Brazil and Croatia were beating Australia. Unfortunately it didn't stay like that. Japan lost 4-1. Sayonara Samurai blue.

England are doing a little better. We're playing Ecuador on Sunday night in the last 16. I think we will scrape through. But beyond that, I don't think we can win the tournament. I was reasonably confident before it all started. Not now. We have looked poor in our 1st 3 games. I don't think we have the ability to break down the really good defences when we're up against it. We have Wazza, but if a team plays well, they can mark him out of the game. That leaves us with cult-hero Crouchy to get the goals. Or goals from midfield. Whilst Gerrard and Lampard are fantastic strikers of the ball from the edge of the area, we can't rely on them to score in every game. There will be a match along the way when we can't get the ball in the net enough times. Therfore, I predict an exit in either the quarter or semi finals. I only want us to get to the final if we can win it. If we can't win, then I'd rather us go out sooner. What I mean is, at this moment in time I don't think we can win the competition, but the longer we go on, the higher my hopes will become. And the more gutting it will be to lose.

I'll still support them and get far too excited during games, despite this negative talk now. Come on The EngERland!

Put on yer dancing shoes. Crouchy's coming out to play.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Job offer, rainy BBQ and a bad day at the office.

On Tuesday I received a call from Chas at Shizuoka Kita High School. He rang to offer me the job. I accepted. Details to be sorted out, but I'll be starting sometime around the end of August - teaching 14 hours per week to the same 7 classes each week. It sounds really cool, and I liked the look of the school too. Reports say that I'll be very much in control of the lessons which I can't wait for. They also have a staff football team- so that should be pretty cool too.

Yesterday Tom, Ben, Kirsty, Kat and Jo came round to mine after elementary school for an afternoon BBQ. It had been a beautiful morning, but by the afternoon cloud had rolled in, which turned to rain. We found a spot to put the BBQ though - under the lip of the roof and got cooking. We had a good afternoon and there was much discussion about gender roles for children. "Is it right that parents choose the gender roll of their child by dressing it in a certain way?" "Shouldn't the child have the right to become a lady boy if it so desires?".....It was interesting for a while but then got a bit dull and ridiculous. Ben and Jo finally quietened down with the addition of barbequed king prawns, scallops and weeners.

This morning I had 4 lessons with the 4 different teachers at School.
1st period was 2nd graders with Mr Mizuno. Mr Mizuno is a very lively chap. He creates interest in his lessons, but a fair proportion of his classes revolve around reading the textbook. The students don't seem to mind and get on with the work he sets to the best of their ability since when they're not reading, he produces decent activities. More importantly he has a fair bit of personality about him, so presents things in the right way. My role in his classes is read from the book. He's a bit of a control freak, but generally speaking a decent bloke. His classes do make me incredibly bored though, as a lot of his genk is given in Japanese- and so i miss out on it all.

2nd period was 1st graders with Mrs Mitsuishi. When I first came to this school, I was a bit worried about her classes, but now I think she's the best teacher. Her classes are always well thought through and organised. She's not the genkiest of teachers, but we work well together. She gets me to run some activities, and we often do little skits to introduce new grammar points. She's getting on a bit - in her 50's and if only she was a touch more genki whe'd be wicked.

3rd period was 3rd graders with Miss Komatsu. I feel embarassed to be in these classes. All of her lessons revolve around the dreaded textbook. She presents with no personality whatsoever. She's new to teaching and seems constantly in a panic. She doesn't communicate with me either - so I don't even know what she's expecting me to do. I've offered to prepare some activities for her classes to try and liven things up, but she says it's OK - she can do it. I think because she's new to teaching she feels pressure that she should prepare everything herself. Even if I did make run parts of the lesson, it would be incredibly hard work, since she's already set such a dull mood in her classes. Her lessons are like pulling teeth. I try to be enthusiastic, but I really can't fake it. I dread these lessons.

4th period was with Mr Fujimoto. He used to be a principal, but works part time here beacause he enjoys teaching. He's very enthusiastic and the kids all love him. He presents his materials well, and always gets the kids talking. The onl bad thing from my point of view is he has no interest in team taching - it's completely his lesson and I just tag along. I get the impression he resents my resents my presence, but tries his best to hide it. I may be worng. Either way his lessons are fairly enjoyable since he creates a lively atmosphere and gets the kids moving. His actually teaching isn't that good though I don't think. He often moves too fast, and the students are left behind.

So that's a rundown of my day.
I've just found out that I've got 3 lessons with Miss Komatsu tomorrow as Mr Mizuno is in a meeting all day - It's gonna be hell. I feel a fever coming on at the prospect.

Monday, June 05, 2006


I was involved in a demonstration class today at Junior High School. The rules of a demonstration class are this:

  1. Put as much pressure on the teacher as possible, especially if he / she's new to teaching. That way he / she's bound to perform nervously, and you can point out all of their faults, and undermine their confidence even more.

  2. Fill the classroom with as many teachers as possible, always including the principal and head teacher. That way you make the students incredibly nervous too.

  3. Spend at least 10 hours working on the lesson "plan". That way nothing can go wrong, and it's bound to be a great lesson.

  4. Rehearse the lesson. That way when the students are on show to all of the teachers, they will know what answers to give, and make the teacher look really effective.

  5. Make sure it's the dullest lesson in history. That way the students won't laugh, and you'll all be seen to be taking it seriously and doing a good job.

So in the lesson rehearsal today I was reading from the book (enough to send me to sleep even with a class full of kids present) as my 2 English teachers parroted back the text - as many times as the students would be required to and in the same style. I'm not sure if they didn't trust my ability to read, my ability to read at the right time, or if they're just so obsessed with being over prepared that they feel they have to do it. I hope it's the latter.
The teacher also pointed out the best technique for sticking flashcards to the blackboard. I thought that if they were on the board, and the students could read them, then that would be OK, but I was mistaken. It turns out that they have to be 100% horizontal too. I'm surprised she didn't get her spirit level out - It's the only thing she missed.
Anyway, the whole idea of these demonstration classes is utterly ridiculous. I really really really don't agree with them. I think the Japanese techers feel the same way, but they'll never admit it.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Beaten by a 1st grader

Summer is finally here. It was boiling today, and I've been walking round the house in just my shorts since I got herm. I stink too.

I was back at Ryukyuo Junior High school today for the month of June. I really like this school. The English techers are really friendly, the kids have bags of personality and are even competent at English.

I had a funny exchange with a 1st grader today - Kentaro. As I came into the classroom he was standing chatting near the front. I said "How are you?", he replied "pardon" and cupped his ear, so I said it again - he did the same as he scurried off to his place, so I said it a bit louder and he did the same again. He was stood next to his desk putting on his name badge still looking at me so I called him over. I got him to come really close before bellowing "HOW ARE YOU?" He was a little schocked but he found it funny.
During the lesson each student had to give a little introduction to the rest of the class. They'd spent 5 mins drawing their pet and had to finish their little presentation saying "this is my CAT/DOG/FISH etc, __NAME__. and hold up their picture. Anyway, it came to Kentaro's turn. He did his presentation perfectly and said the line "....and this is my cat,........(shows his picture to the class).........John Cant." I was shocked. I looked at his picture and he'd drawn an amazing cat with a cheeky face and big glasses - just like mine. I was very impressed with his cheekyness, though I now face a dilema of how to score a point back from the cheeky twat. I don't mean that in a bad way - I quite like the cheeky boys. But not the cheeky girls. They were awful.

Today is Kayo's birthday, but I can't visit her today as I had to go to school. I'm going to Shizuoka at the weekend to see her though and have fixed myself up with a job interview at a high school on Saturday morning. Hopefully it will go well. I'm feeling fairly relaxed about it at the moment as I anticipate the questions being relatively informal, but we'll see. I've just had a chat with the chap whose job I'm potentially taking. He's a very amicable young scotsman who has been incredibley helpful.