Marie Antoinette's pastry slave (mark356) wrote,
Marie Antoinette's pastry slave

Today was the last day I visit the 6th graders at the local elementary school before they come up to my middle school, so I was asked to explain a little bit about middle school English for them. The sentence I'd been asked to practice with them in the lesson part of the class was "What do you want to be?" and its answer, "I want to be a _____." (FYI, _____ is usually spelled ~ in Japanese. It has many pronunciations in Japanese, but if I'm speaking English, I pronounce it "blah blah blah". Also FYI, Japanese elementary school students and middle school students think the word "blah blah blah" is hilarious.)

Anyway, I started by asking them, "OK, how many of you thought that this was super-easy? How about how many of you thought it was kind of hard? It's OK if you did. Here's another question. You will study this sentence in middle school, but what year? Do you think you'll study it when you're a 7th grader? When you're an 8th grader? A 9th grader?"

The answer is they don't do it again until fairly late in 8th grade, because in middle school, the hope is there's less plain memorizing of target sentences and more actually understanding the grammar that goes on in them. The sentence "What do you want to be?" is a bit complicated if you break it down, and they don't cover the parts until well into their second year. Most of the students could read the first two sentences of the middle school textbook when I wrote them on the board. ("I am Sakura. You are Becky.")

Anyway, my schpiel was about 10 minutes long, and I swear I could see eyes glazing over from the very beginning. In the end, there were only 2 questions: "Is there English homework?" (To my "Yes, you have to write one page a day in English, and you can just copy the textbook if you want, but I promise you it's also really good practice to make up your own sentences!" I saw a number of horrified looks.) And, "How many hours a week do we have English class?" I saw more horrified looks when I said, "4 hours." I do hope that my effort to make middle school English less scary was not counterproductive!

Also. I am feeling like a cookie failure now. I promised all the students on my first day here that I would make them chocolate chip cookies someday, and as a representative of America in a country where good chocolate chip cookies are a rarity, I feel like this is a good idea at least as much now. The vice principal said that I could not make them for the students, because of liability issues, but he had no problems with a local baker making them. The local baker was fine with making them, but given that most Japanese people have no idea what properly gooey-in-the-middle American chocolate chip cookies are like, he asked me to make him an example first and bring it to him along with the recipe. So I made chocolate chip cookies at a friend's house today, and I swear I followed the right recipe, the one that's on the back of every bag of chocolate chips in America (only I chopped up some nice 48% French chocolate myself here), and they just didn't come out right. They were fine, they both said they were delicious, but they just didn't have that proper chew to them. They came out fluffy/bready instead of having that almost candylike quality they should. I can't imagine what went wrong-- too much baking soda? Wrong kind of brown sugar? Not enough butter? (4 ounces is 112 grams, right?) I don't think I can bring these to him, because tasting these, you probably wouldn't understand what the fuss is about.
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