Since coming to Japan, I’ve been interested in teaching English to native Japanese speakers. I happen to love English. It’s a lovely, though sometimes confusing, language and I am happy to share my laboriously acquired vocabulary and vast knowledge of past participles, or at least my very American ability to google words I don’t know and grammar that I can’t remember.
Recently I began teaching a few students, three adults individually and about 10-15 kids in a class. It has been fun to share English with them, and unexpectedly challenging to teach something you know so well that you’ve forgotten what it must be like to learn it. English is not easy, and learning Japanese has made me super sympathetic to anyone endeavoring to learn a foreign language.
Equally pleasant to sharing language is learning from my students. Today I learned from Katsuhiro-san that the people with loudspeakers on their trucks who drive through neighborhood streets on weekend mornings blasting incomprehensible Japanese are actually political campaigners. I had already guessed this, but here in Japan it’s nice to be reassured in your assumptions. There are so many times when assuming makes an ass out of me.
Katsuhiro-san and I had a lovely lesson in Negishi Shinrin Park, which is a wonderland of cherry blossoms located about ten minutes from my home. According to Katsuhiro-san there are about 500 cherry trees in this lovely lovely place. This week the blossoms are just opening, and walking through the park you feel like a fairy princess surrounded by fluffy clouds of flowers. This is not an exaggeration. This is a very fitting metaphor. It was here that we had our lesson, which consisted of us sitting on the grass in a sunlit patch under the trees chitchatting while eating carrot cake and potato chips. Oh yes, this is my kind of gig, complete with snacks.
So I am proud to have joined the ranks of gaijin who teach English, especially when it means spending a rather delightful day outside with a friend enjoying the natural beauty of Japan in the springtime.