Friday, September 16, 2005

First day back at work (really)

It was the first REAL day back at school today, and everything went haywire, as usual. The fantastic new level checking method for streaming students worked fine in the first semester, but our department had decided to do it again mid-year. We were not happy about this, for various reasons.

Fortunately, this only happened in one of my classes today, because of the seven faculties whose students we teach, only two decided to cooperate with this new method. The others told us today that they'd decided not to do it. TODAY. The first day of teaching, and NOW they tell us! Meanwhile we have already ordered new textbooks for the new semester, and they've arrived, and the students HAVE to buy them even though we didn't finish the textbooks we used in the first semester. The students are not happy. The teachers are not happy. (I have to admit being a GLEEFUL about the faculties not cooperating with the stupid idea, but not happy. Gleeful is not the same as happy. They should have told us.)

But there were two bright spots in the day. The first was when I met my 'difficult' class. They thundered into the classroom, greeted me enthusiastically, and were cheerfully cooperative and noisy and funny in very bad English. When I think of how I used to have to bellow at them to get them to stop using Japanese all the time I wanted to kiss them all, individually. Even my so-called 'best' class (i.e. highest level) doesn't try that hard. (Perhaps I should bellow at ALL my classes.)

They told me all their news. Koji, who was wearing a suit and looking like a kid dressed up in Daddy's clothes (but wouldn't tell us why) claimed that he had spent his summer vacation speaking English ALL THE TIME. After listening to him for a while I decided that at least he THOUGHT about using English once or twice - but good for him! He has held onto the progress he made in the first semester, and now believes he can be an English speaker, which he was firmly convinced was impossible at the beginning of the year. My little squeaky guy, Naoki, was looking pale and wan, and told me that he'd spent all of August sick with a viral inflammation in his bowels. He'd looked it up especially so he could tell me about it. Poor little guy. He was looking even skinnier and smaller than usual. Everybody was sympathetic, especially the cool guys, who crowded around him asking questions about his illness and shaking their heads, looking mature and concerned.

I realized all over again that this class, which started the year as the one I dreaded the most, has become my ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE. I am very pleased that they haven't been shuffled around - their faculty was one that didn't cooperate with the new system - so I have the same funny bunch I had in the first semester.

The second bright spot of the day came from my newspaper, which I thought I'd finished reading and had left in the teachers' room. A sharp-eyed teacher spotted the article below, which I have copied in its entirety because the Yomiuri does not archive news stories, and what's the use of a link that will only work for a few hours? (I have included the link anyway.)

This story MADE MY DAY. It made everybody's day, when my colleague read it aloud. We were laughing so hard she couldn't get past the first paragraph.

I don't think any comment is required. It speaks for itself.

Woman held over hiring hit man

The Yomiuri Shimbun

A 32-year-old woman who complained to police that a hit man she had hired to kill her boyfriend's wife had failed to do the job was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of inducing a person to commit murder, police said.

The ambulance officer from the Tokyo Fire Department's Shibuya Fire Station allegedly asked a self-described private detective to kill her boyfriend's wife. The private detective also was arrested for allegedly receiving money to commit murder. The wife was found safe.

According to police, Eriko Kawaguchi of Tama, Tokyo, met Koji Tabe, 40, of Kunitachi, Tokyo, through an Internet site where hit men allegedly can be hired.

The Metropolitan Police Department arrested Kawaguchi and Tabe on suspicion of violating the Law Concerning Punishment of Physical Violence and Others.

Kawaguchi called a telephone number listed on the site, which apparently was Tabe's, in November and requested that he kill the 32-year-old wife of the man she was having an affair with, according to the police.

Kawaguchi paid Tabe 1 million yen in cash for his 'investigation' in late January. Tabe allegedly accepted the payment as a fee to murder the wife.

Tabe allegedly explained to Kawaguchi how he planned to kill the wife when the two met in Tachikawa, western Tokyo, in mid-January. He allegedly suggested chasing the woman on a motorcycle and spraying her with a biological agent in a tunnel.

Police also discovered that Kawaguchi had transferred millions of yen to a bank account opened by the administrator of the Internet site. Police are questioning the administrator under suspicion the administrator may have been aware of the plot.
(Sep. 16, 2005)


Lisa said...

What a world!

BerlinBear said...

Gee, my hitman was rubbish and didn't kill the person, whatever will I do? Oh, I know, I'll call the police!

You what? Usually these sorts of stories only happen in Germany.

Pleased your start back at work was largely positive. I hope it stays that way.

Pkchukiss said...

This world is full of strange things and eccentric people...

I know of one website that takes pleasure in showcasing them...

I am confused: How do they stream the students after they had done it the first time?

kenju said...

Hi, Badaunt, nice to hear from you! I know just how your brother felt when he cut his hand; it is so very odd to see the blood and know there has been a cut - but not feel any pain at all. It sort of makes you think that it has been cut off and that's why there is no pain - and at the same time you know that didn't happen. Odd.

Badaunt said...

Pkchukiss: The stream them again by making them take another test at the end of the first semester, and then putting them into the levels they get on that test.

The problem is, they test them according to what they've been learning in their JAPANESE teachers' classes, which are reading and writing classes. Ours are speaking classes, and we've been teaching them quite different things. (I'm sure you're aware that spoken and written English are quite different!)

This means that for one of my classes I now have half students who are babbling in English and half students who are afraid of opening their mouths in case they make a mistake. Not making mistakes is how they scored high on the written test. That's how you score high in a language here - you go for accuracy, not for communicative skills.

I'm going to try to get the babbling half to train the silent half.