Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The problem with ferris wheels

Besides the fact that they make me vomit...

They are impossible for poor Japanese youngsters (and senseis) to pronounce. "Feddis Wihru." Impossible. Way too many "l"s and "r"s raining on the word parade. Why does it matter that ferris wheel will never be used in common conversations throughout Japan? It doesn't.

But today was the big day for Oral Communication II 3-2 as they tackled their presentations about all that Chatan has to offer. In English. Seiko and I cued up a videocamera and headed to class in high spirits. We were greeted by students running around asking me "How? (As in "how do I say this?!") And everyone was feeling very genki. As they settled down, I realized that there were teachers in the hall watching the spectacle and the principal (Kim Jong Il with his trusty video camera) and the vice-principals were standing in the back of the room. The professional photographers even made an appearance. And then it hit me what a big deal our little 50 word presentation was for these kids. I also became very thankful for practically writing one group's sentences to avoid humiliation. (They had it in Japanese, but had NOTHING in English with 10 minutes left last class. I had to help.) Anyways, as two groups struggled with "ferris wheel" in the last minutes of cramming, we settled in for the show.

As the groups went up one by one, I have to say that I was proud of their English. Yes, a couple of them were impossible to understand (and I even knew what they were saying) and one girl trying to say "ridden on it" got her tongue twisted and said an expletive. (Hilarious!) But overall, they showed some nice presentation skills, but I might just be partial to them since they're my favorites.

One thing that cracked me up from the very beginning of this process was what they actually picked to do their presentations on. Now, Chatan doesn't have tons of heritage sites or anything, but students could have been a bit more creative. They picked a park, the ocean, the bento place next to school, the ferris wheel (ack!), a restaurant in Jusco, a soba shop in Sunabe, and an American restaurant. For the next project we're branching out our vocabularies. "It is very beautiful." "It is delicious." One group did write (by themselves), "Your wallet will be safe because prices are low." Good on them!

Update: This morning I gave a CD of pictures to Seiko because she requested copies. In return, she gives me a professionally printed CD that says "Welcome to Chatan" that the kocho-sensei (principal...Kim Jong Il) made from his pictures. I thought, "Wow. That's nice and puts my permanent marker label to shame." Then he comes up after the morning meeting with DVD cases with Seiko's picture on one side and my picture on the other. So thoughtful!

1 comment:

Jeremy & Kimi said...

sounds like a rewarding and amusing day! Isn't it neat to see at least some of your work paying off? :)