Saturday, September 27, 2008


I had a forgetful sort of day today. First I forgot to take my lunch to work. Then, when I got to my first class over on the other campus (the university has two campuses across the road from each other) I discovered that I had left my class rolls in my locker over on the wrong campus. At this point it had started to rain, and class was about to start, and although my umbrella was one thing I had not forgotten I couldn't be bothered running back for the roll sheets. Instead I did an impromptu dictation exercise, collected it, and used that to check off the roll later. (Actually, the dictation was so successful I used it in all my other classes as well.)

Having forgotten two things before nine o'clock was bad enough, but then when I was going back to the main campus for lunch, or rather for lunchtime (because I'd forgotten my lunch) I forgot about the treacherous automatic flush toilet I encountered last week, and used it again. I only remembered when it was too late that I had sworn to myself to avoid it in future.

It is a very enthusiastic toilet, until you want it to be. You sit down, and FLUSH! Bum cheeks clench in shock, FLUSH! Adjust position very slightly, FLUSH! And so on. Then you stand up, and it doesn't flush. You have to wave various bits of your anatomy at it for five minutes before it will deign to flush again.

Most of the automatic flush toilets work more or less OK (although I never quite trust them, suspecting them to be secretly providing jobs for otherwise unemployably creepy little perverts behind peepholes with their finger on a FLUSH button), but that second floor end cubicle automatic flush toilet is a particularly untrustworthy specimen (or employs a particularly sadistic pervert). I have used it twice already this semester, which only started a week ago. Today I vowed (again) not to repeat my mistake, not matter how tired and forgetful I am.

The good news is that all my classes went very well indeed despite all my forgettery. In the case of the difficult second period class it may have been because nine of the guys were absent, so I had a manageably-sized class for a change. I'm not sure why so many were absent. It could have been because after the first class back last week they suddenly remembered how close they had come to failing my class last semester, and decided to quit, but I suspect it is more likely because it was raining and they were worried about their hairstyles.

Then a student in fourth period made my day by telling his friend that during the summer vacation he had visited the Yasaka Shrink, thus demonstrating, once again, the dangers of learning words in alphabetical order. Funny how the two most memorable examples of this I have encountered both involved the same place.

The last class went well, too, for a change. That one is particularly large and boisterous, and usually my biggest problem is getting the students to shut up for long enough to actually hear what I'm saying. Starting off with the short dictation thing sorted that out wonderfully. I have done dictations before, of course, but generally towards the end of class. Doing it at the beginning had interesting results. The students went utterly silent during the dictation, and remained unusually well-behaved and attentive for the rest of class.

I might have to give that class surprise dictations at the beginning of class every week. (I realize that it doesn't seem to make sense to call it a 'surprise' after the first three or four weeks, but I gave mini-tests in most of my classes all last semester, and telling the students that there would be a test AND telling them the questions and answers in advance did not seem to prevent it from being a weekly surprise test. I don't see why dictation would be any different.)

Oh, and I did get some lunch. I had a cheese sandwich from one of the university cafes. It wasn't wonderful, but it kept me going.

All in all, it wasn't such a bad ending to the week.


Lia said...

Just wondering - Is an English teacher in a non-English speaking country really allowed to make up words? Mightn't they wbe mistaken for actual words? Although that would only serve as yet another source of entertainment when your students attempt to use their high vocabulary.

Badaunt said...

I don't usually use made-up words in class. Now and again I do, but generally by mistake. But even if I did, my students seem to remember very little from one week to the next (weekly classes are silly for a language, for exactly this reason) so it probably wouldn't matter!