Wednesday, January 18, 2006

No test

In my one class today my students wanted to know if there would be a test. I was a bit surprised that they were asking. If there was going to be a test I would have told them weeks ago. Do their other teachers spring tests on them a week before the end of semester?

I've had it up to here with tests. I don't have to do them at this place, so I don't. And besides, with this particular class, what have they learned that I can test? I could ask them to make a sentence with the word diarrhea in it, I suppose, but they'd get the grammar wrong. (She is diarrhea. See here and here for previous posts about this class.)

"No," I said. "No test."

They cheered wildly, and I held up the forms for the teacher evaluation survey.

"AND THAT MEANS YOU SHOULD GIVE ME TOP MARKS FOR THESE!" I shouted over the general happy uproar.

"YES! YES!" they shouted back joyfully.

And they did. Oh, dear. That was unethical of me.

One of the students wrote,

I hated English. Now I like English. (A little.)

I liked that a little. It was honest. And if I'm going to be honest, I only feel a little guilty about the teacher evaluation thing. Mostly I think it's a big joke, because no matter how well I do on those evaluations, I will never be offered a better job at that university. I will always be a part-timer, on one year contracts. I happen to know that it is their (unwritten) policy to never give permanent positions to foreigners.

In fact it is terribly hard to take the university seriously as employers or as a university. They have done nothing to deserve it. But I do take the students seriously, and I enjoy them. They are ripped off royally in terms of getting the education they are paying for, but at least in our classes we have some fun. And I hope they learn something, even if it is only that learning doesn't have to be all drudgery and memorization.

After they had done the evaluations and put them in an envelope I told the class, very seriously, that now we were going to sing a song.

"Carpenters?" asked one student, and I said, "NO." (Why do they always think I'll give them Carpenters songs? I have never given them Carpenters songs. I hate Carpenters songs.)

"Beatles?"

"No," I said. "Listen to me, and join in."

"But maybe we don't know it," they said.

"Don't worry. You know it. Ready?"*

"Er...."

I pointed at one of the students, took a deep breath, and bellowed tunelessly,

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOOOOOU!"

Heads swivelled to see who it was as they all joined in enthusiastically.

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOOOOOU!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR TOMOOOOOKOOOOO!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOOOOOOOOOOOOOU!"

Dear Tomoko blushed and squirmed and couldn't wipe the grin off her face for at least ten minutes after we'd stopped cheering.

(She'd written her birthdate on the self-introduction thing I had them doing back in April last year, and I'd just noticed it was today.)




*Please note that everything I say in this class is in English, and everything the students say is in Japanese except when they're doing something from the textbook or using the word diarrhea. That's how it has worked out, I'm afraid, despite my best efforts.

5 comments:

Ms Mac said...

No Carpenters songs? Your students really are getting ripped off! I *heart* The Carpenters!

Wiccachicky said...

So, did they sing "Tanjobi omedito gozaimasu" or did they sing the English? ;)

Badaunt said...

Ms. Mac: I can tell you've never taught English! (If only Karen Carpenter hadn't enunciated QUITE so clearly...)

Wiccachicky: they sang in English. Everybody knows Happy Birthday! (Does that mean I can call the lesson a success?)

Pkchukiss said...

I've been to Taiwan before, and the situation there is not unlike Japan, if not slightly worse because even the government officials can't speak proper English.

I was busy doing translations for my non-chinese speaking friends while there.

Cheryl said...

:-D