Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Kumon is an after-school/tutoring programme here in Japan. It's like Sylvan in the US.

It also happens to be how I am attempting to learn Japanese. Mostly, it's worksheets and lots of them and I'm getting more and more frustrated with the lack of availibility of real, formal, classroom schooling. I've been here a year and a half, and while the six months that I have been doing KUMON have definitely improved my reading and writing skills, I can't carry on a conversation worth fuckall.

Chris, of course, is brilliant, he's wired for language, where I am only wired for neurosis.

80 dollars a month for worksheets that are 10 years old and no private, structured class instruction is beginning to seem less and less worth it. Sitting in an area the size of my living room filled with 20 kids and 4 teachers wouldn't be so bad if I could get some peace and quiet so I could focus (the kids are well-behaved, they're just kids). An added bonus would be to get an undistracted teacher for 15 seconds; the instructors are constantly multitasking, and they miss a lot of my mistakes when they correct my worksheets. Part of me is gleeful about getting away with it, part of me is pissed off by it.

There's also the FYYDSE (Fuck You You Don't Speak English) Syndrome as I call it. I go around with the teachers about how to correctly pronounce American English words; the Japanese instructors try to get me to say them Japanese-style, which chaps my ass to no end. Correct my Japanese all you want, but don't you tell me I'm not saying an AE word correctly, because I'm not fucking taking English diction from a person whose culture produced a car whose name they can't correctly pronounce (the "Corrolla" in case you were wondering).

In addition to practicing reading and writing Japanese, and practicing being pissed off about being told how to speak my native tongue, I am also practicing my passive-agressive abilities, although the Japanese will ALWAYS win there, they're the masters of it.

Short story is they don't bother to date my homework anymore (they used to) when they set it up for me; so if I drop it (and invarabiably I do) it gets all goofed up and out of order and that screws up the progression of the lessons and I have an huge attack of Bitchy. So what do I do? I don't write my start and finish time on the sheets, which screws them up, because their "grading" and progression track is based on how long it takes me to do a worksheet, combined with the number of errors I make.

I got a little note on my last batch of corrections "Please remember to fill in your time" but I did notice that they wrote the dates on my worksheet. I also got a rejoinder not to miss the next class, which of course ALSO pissed me off and made me turn into a 7 year old and the 7 year old Baka Gaijin says "YOU ARE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!" and now everyone knows damn well that I WON'T be showing up for class.

Chris hates when I act like this because he gets caught in the middle but ask me if I care.

"Baka Gaijin, do you care?"

"Oh, hell no."

1 comment:

Saka-Chan said...

you are too funny. now you know there isn't "japanese in a bottle", so it's going to take time. and kumon is better than nothing. besides, you can always get you a Japanese girlfriend so you can practice conversation with. I don't really see chris having a problem with you having a girlfriend....