I miss Japan!
Every once in awhile I get these terrible pangs of homesickness – for Japan. They come in strong bouts when I receive letters from my students or e-mails from my friends.
I heard from Mayu that she had her little boy, Leo. This is her and Joel’s second child. Little Hannah is going to be a great big sister!
I heard from Noriko, who is a friend and fabulous teacher I worked with. She tells me that English will be taught in all Elementary schools come 2011. This is terrific news, considering many Japanese feel that students need to focus on learning Japanese in elementary school, not English. This means that the three-year pilot program I worked on with the Board of Education, was greatly convincing! I worked with my colleagues to create the elementary school curriculum.
To further prove that English is best taught in elementary school, I received letter from my students. My sweet angels. Oh, how I miss them. Cute Kaito is now in sixth grade. He gave me his address on my last visit to the school and said, “My address. Please, letter.” And so we’ve exchanged letters, and I sent him a postcard from Vietnam. This has all been in Japanese…until now. His letter said in part,
I like new English class but I want to take your English lesson soon.
Oh how my hear bursts with pride! Many of my students are now in junior high. One of the teachers I worked with, Sugimoto Sensei, transfered to the junior high from the elementary school and so she does letter-writing projects with the students to help them practice their grammar. Guess who gets their letters? Meeeee!!!! ;p
The second graders (like 8th grade) are working on past tense. So I was pleased to see things like,
I played table tennis.
I enjoyed my class.
I practiced basketball.
Nice, huh? I also learned that a few of my students “have a boyfriend” or “have a girlfriend.” They’re fourteen! I feel so protective!
Sugimoto Sensei must have also taught them the word “hard” because the students were all too eager to tack it on to the end of most of their sentences..
I played track and field very hard.
I read many books very hard.
I studied English very hard.
I studied math very hard, too.
Um. Yeah. Need to send some notes back to Sugimoto Sensei to correct the usage. Bless their hearts – they’re making complete sentences! My favorite letter came from Daichi. In it, he explains,
I drank eleven milk. It is new record. Next day, I was sick.
That one had me rolling when I first read it. I can just picture the class at lunch, giving their milk cartons to Daichi to drink and laughing after he finished each one. Clearly, if this is a new record, he must do this often.
The first graders (like 7th grade) also wrote to me. This is the last group of kids, and my favorite group of kids that I taught. This is the first time for me to receive letters from them. My most darling student Hideto, who I also corresponded with wrote,
I’ve missed you. Many letter, thank you. I’m so happy!
With my buddy, Hideto – This was my last visit at one of two elementary schools. I made sure to take a photo with my favorite student, Hideto. What a cutie!
I just want to squeeze the little angel! I really enjoyed the letters from this group of students. They did so well in English, and were always so much fun to teach. Some other funny sentences included,
He likes pooh. (Referring to Winne the Pooh which the Japanese call Pooh-san.)
He loves chocolete, cake, ice cream, pudding, many many many sweets.
I want a dog and two tortoises.
I eat cheeseburgers. Shanna eats cheeseburgers, too. (This was the running joke with my kids.)
She likes cake, but she doesn’t like onions.
I don’t like green piece. (She meant peas!)
I like English because you taught me English.
Can I just tell you how much my heart bursts with pride when I read this? These kids could only say “hello” when I met them. We studied English twice a week for two years, only listening and speaking. And after just two terms in junior high, they can write so much of the English we practiced together in elementary school! I am so insanely proud of them!
And so, this is what makes me want to jump on the next plane to Narita and go and see my J-friends and students. I hope they understand how much of an impact they have made on my life and how often I think of them and how committed I am to visiting those kids before they graduate from junior high. Did I mention how proud I am? :p
On the Bright Side,