April 22, 2006 – Zenbu wakatta yo

The month of April has been a busy one for group kids classes. After two and a half years as an English teacher in Japan I would consider myself to be a “good” or “very good” teacher for adults. I enjoy most of my lessons and feel like the students are both enjoying themselves and learning something.

I can’t say the same things about my kids classes; they are the hardest and least enjoyable part of my job.

Today in one of my group kids classes, I had a young girl who decided it would be fun to throw a marker at my face. I wish I could say that I made a matrix-like dodge, impressing the class into respecting my teaching authority. Instead they laughed as the marker bounced off my face while making a smacking sound.

The same little girl decided to up her game later in the class (after I had hidden the markers) by calling me a bunch of nasty words in Japanese. One of the big selling features of NOVA is that the classroom environment is supposed to be English immersion. Even if teachers can understand Japanese, we are supposed to use English at all times. However, after about a full minute of her using every awful word she knew I was getting tired of the abuse. I smiled, leaned in, and told her quietly but firmly “zenbu wakatta yo” (I understand everything). She was shocked, turned red, and immediately stopped the name calling.

English immersion or not, everyone living in a foreign country should make efforts to learn the local language. It might come in handy one day!

Author’s note: I recognized most of the names she was calling me because the “bad” words in a new language seem to be the most fun to learn. This backfired on me a few years earlier which you can read here.

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