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First Graders & Kids Say the Darndest Things (when trying to speak another language) - A Recovering Physicist's Apology

About First Graders & Kids Say the Darndest Things (when trying to speak another language)

Previous Entry First Graders & Kids Say the Darndest Things (when trying to speak another language) Apr. 28th, 2007 @ 11:48 am Next Entry
The first graders have reached a really fun stage in their development. They are now brave enough to attempt to talk to me, but they still know virtually no real English. The only bits of language they know are a handful of disconnected nouns and a few more violent verbs. As last years first graders proved, I can get a lot of miles out of pretending to punch a kid in the head and yelling “HEAD PUNCH!” but there isn’t a whole lot of intellectual discourse going on there.

Still, this is a time that I really enjoy to be with them. They will all run up to me when I come in the classroom and fire all the words they can at me. It goes something like this:
“Andoruuuu! Strawberries!”
Me: “Ohh you like strawberries. My mother likes….”
“Endoryu! Dog!”
Me: “I have two dogs, do you...”
“Indorooo! …”
Me: “No, no, ‘A-n-d-r-ew’”
“Indoroo! Punch!”

Yesterday a kid was grappling with his friend in a playful way and he screamed to me “Andoru! S.O.S. S.O.S.!” How could I not help him? I waded into the “brawl” book swinging. In the first grade class there are three teachers in the room at the same time. The kids are learning how to write English letters and after every page they get a stamp from one of the teachers. One of the kids declared that my stamp was “lucky” and soon the entire class was yelling for the lucky stamp. I’m not sure what about my stamp made it lucky, or in what way it was lucky, but it got to the point where as soon as I would start helping a kid the others would put their hands down so that the other teachers would not stamp their work books, the entire classes wanted my lucky stamp. One boy even yelled my favorite Japanese construction, “Lucky Stamp Get-o!”

Also with the first graders is the fact that they don’t get my last name at all. The very concept of my name is a tough one to wrap their heads around. I don’t even want to try and explain middle names (they do not have those here). In Japan, of course, your family name comes first and then your given name. At one point we were trying to explain why you call Yamamoto Shoji, “Mr. Yamamoto” and Andrew Magrath just “Andrew” and never “Mr. Andrew”. One kid raised his hand and conjectured that it was because I was “not a real teacher”. When trying to learn my last name, the first graders two years ago thought it was Magnum, as in Andrew Magnum. This year’s first graders think my name sounds like Andrew McDonald’s – a far grater audio stretch in my mind, but still pretty darn funny.

All in all, the new first grade class seems really nice. I am pretty sad I will not really get to know them as about the time their English skills becomes non-zero is the same time that I leave the country. Oh well.

Finally enjoy some fruits of my labors in regards to some of the other things my kids have said and/or written to me:

(speaking exercise where I am a customs officer and they are a traveler)
A: What is the purpose of your visit?
S: Visiting my uncle.
A: How long will you stay?
S: 2,000 years!

A: What is the purpose of your visit?
S: Hijack!
A: HELP! POLICE! POLICE!


Q: What do you want to do in high school?
A: I want to wear long skirt and black socks!

Japan’s national rugby team is called the ‘Brave Blossoms’.

“I enjoyed playing with children. I felt children are heavy.

“I enjoy big voice let out!”

“I worked at the pet shop. My shoes were eaten by rabbits. I was very sad.”

“Funny : Fun :: Different : ___________” Correct answer: “difference” this was an actual question on a high school proficiency test. My theory is it comes about because the Japanese word omoshiroi is used to mean “fun”, “funny”, and “interesting”. A very big cultural difference there.

“It sounds of nice.”

Q: What is Hindi?
Student’s answer: It’s an Indian shampoo!

“My home near liver.”

“The place harf the country”

“I am pride live to his from city too”

“There are some shops my honce”

“There are mountains near my hose”

“Daito City is some odd looking man”

“I like Daito City Such!?”

“Tanigawa is near my house, so I don’t need to hurry up to school.”

“Daito city is the country.”

“There are many shops in Daito. I like one, I often go to that shop. I use much moneies at that shop. When I go to that shop, I’m excited.”

“Nozaki station is small station, but I think Nozaki Station is important station.”

“There are many strange children in Daito.”

“I like it very maucy”

“I live in Dito”

“I am Daito.”

“I space more need!”

“I am prestty shrine”

“There is a supermarket (only this appeared).”

“I eat bread for breadfast”

“Second I want to be popular so I am practicing writing my autograph. Now to be a baseball player, I am going to swing a bat everyday.”

“Now to be a trumpet player, I am going to play trumpet so hard.”

“I am going to study about the foundation of ramen”

“Hell everyone. Thank you”

A: What book did you read?
S: The Cat in the Hat book
A: What type of book was it?
S: Drama!

A: What book did you read?
S: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
A: What type of book was it?
S: First sad and last happy.

It is difficult for me to live in this world.
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