Friday, December 19, 2008


Yesterday was my last working Friday of the year, and I was testing students all day again. Speaking tests are always a little difficult, for reasons I have gone into before. These reasons were multiplied this time because I have a cold and was taking cold medicine, which made me sleepy.

While I was doing these tests in another room, I had to have the students who were not being tested doing something else back in the classroom as they waited their turn. Because of this cold (at least that's my excuse) I was not thinking clearly and for some reason got the idea that I had already prepared something last week.

Ten minutes before class, I discovered that what I had prepared last week was a large, red message to myself in my notebook which said,

Prepare something for next week!!!!!!!

Why did I not open my notebook earlier? And why didn't I care more, when I finally did? How much codeine is in that cold medicine the doctor gave me?

Anyway, I did not panic. Instead, I asked around the teachers' room and someone came up with a Christmas puzzle, which I was able to copy. I used that.

At the end of the puzzle was a sentence the students had to finish. This was the only 'creative' part of the handout, and I found the answers immensely amusing, all day. I thought you might enjoy some of them, too. (If you don't, take some codeine and try again.)

The sentence they had to finish was this:

This Christmas I want . . .

Here are some of the things my second year students wrote. Some of them were evidently feeling tired:

This Christmas I want to rest.
This Christmas I want to sleep well.

Some were tired AND hungry:

This Christmas I want to sleep all day and to eat cakes.

And one was only hungry. Very, very hungry.

This Christmas I want to eat many chickens.

Others had different things on their minds:

This Christmas I want girlfriends.
This Christmas I want to kiss a girl.
This Christmas I want a girlfriend. And I want to play with her.
This Christmas I want to get money. And I want to play with boy.

(These were all written by guys. I had to remind myself that 'play' in Japanese (asobu) is used QUITE differently from the way it is used in English. Direct translations can be disastrous.)

A few students were touchingly optimistic.

This Christmas I want to meet Santa.
This Christmas I want world peace

And one student had a very specific want:

This Christmas I want a collapsible bicycle.

There was one lout. Why is there always a lout? And why does he have to be the one who is the most likely to get what he wants for Christmas?

This Christmas I want to drink too much.

The speaking tests went well, or at least I think they went well. I do not remember much about them. That does not matter, as I was grading them as they happened. (Probably far too high.) I didn't really expect speaking tests to go well with cold medicine, but they did.

In fact, that was so much less stressful than usual I might try it again next semester.


Tabor said...


kenju said...

I hope you feel better now.

Keera Ann Fox said...

My, so many starving kids!

So, what did the boy mean by playing with boy (asobu)? We have two words for "play" in Norwegian, where one is play as in play with dolls ("leke"; the noun "leke" means toy), and the other is play as in play sports or games or music ("spill"). Is there a similar division in Japanese?

Badaunt said...

Asobu means play, but it is applied more widely than it is in English. It covers what adults do when we would say we were 'meeting friends' or 'spending time with friends' - my students write, 'playing with my friends.'

I imagine my student in this case wanted to say he wanted to meet a friend, and wanted to specify that this is a male friend, but couldn't say 'boy friend' because he knew that sounded wrong, so went with 'boy.'


I wonder why in English only children play (aside from music or some sports - but not all sports, confusingly), and why it becomes naughty-sounding when we're use 'play' about adults?

(Most of my students do not know how to spell 'bowling,' and I occasionally get the eyebrow-raising I played balling with my boyfriend.)