Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ode to Eikaiwa

I would just like to dedicate a post to my wonderful eikaiwa groups. Eikaiwa is a conversation class in Japan. I have both beginners and advanced eikaiwa groups that meet on Thursday nights at the city hall. My beginners group has a solid five people and my advanced has around seven or eight, depending on the availability of the members. My beginners group has a few housewives, an older woman with impressive English skills and a man who is also a member of my advanced group (he is extremely helpful with explaining English to the others when they are confused). The women have no problem laying down the law and telling someone when it is their turn to Go Fish. My advanced group has a few housewives, a nursery school teacher and a couple of shop owners - all with varying levels of English.

After a long day at school, when I feel tired and drained, I still go to eikaiwa and I find these people to be the most enjoyable company out of anyone I know on the island. Their sense of humor and their natural curiosity for learning is inspiring. I am constantly being asked questions like "what does 'I have a bun in the oven' mean?" Their comprehension is so good and they are dedicated to practicing the language so they don't lose it after they studied, traveled or worked abroad years ago. A few of them are the parents of my students as well, so it's fun to hear about the funny things their children say.

I was at my friend's clothing shop on Monday (I had to drop off my frozen burritos to put in her freezer because of a pesky fried circuit breaker - that's a whole 'nuther story) and the second grade students in the elementary school were told to walk around the main street area of Ojika to look at shops and ask the shop owners questions. So they all trudged around with clipboards hanging around their necks, like miniature mall surveyors. You know, the ones you avoid eye contact with. My friend's son is in the second grade and he came into the store while I was talking to his mother. After greeting us, the students in his group immediately began to write down on their clipboards what the shop sells. Apparently, having lived behind the shop his entire seven years, he found the topic boring and instead of writing "I went to the shop and saw socks, pants, shirts, shoes, etc.", he decided to only write "I went to my shop and I saw Erin-sensei." Concise and to the point.

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