the nikku

reflecting on ESL/EFL and its relation to faith

Thursday, May 31, 2007

After class

Well, it's been a few weeks ago now, but after my high school first year college track lesson, I had a few of them follow me out into the hallway. We ended up having a decent conversation about pop music and the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie. But the two girls up top were way too giggly.

In America "college track" means you take certain courses in place of other courses. But my high school in Japan is very different. These students have one or two extra lessons a day, that means they are at school until 5 pm or later (basic track student lessons are finished at 3:15pm). On top of that they are forbidden from participating in sports or having a part-time job. I guess that's about it.

This class is full of talkers (a nice change) because they are all mostly overachievers.

On the bottom left is S-kun. He's a little shy in class, and he's kind of a geek. But after class he always comes up and talks to me in full drawn out sentences - not the short 1-3 word responses I usually get. Actually S-kun is the reason we're sitting on the stairs in the first place. It takes a lot of courage to talk to the foreign teacher like that. But that's how you learn right? dive in? I like his attitude a lot.

Bottom center is Y-chan. A lot of the girls just talk to me because they are teenage and they think that the foreign teacher is cool. But I think Y-chan is different, she talks to me like she is actually talking to a person. She and S-kun are two of the reasons I look forward to this class all week.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


You may have seen it in the news, or you might see it soon. There's an outbreak of measles in Japan. It started in Tokyo and it's moving out from there.

It's still unclear how far it will spread. According to this editorial from the Daily Yomiuri, Japan isn't great about their vaccinations, and there was an outbreak of measles in Japan in 2001 as well.

There isn't much in the Western news about this yet, but if you see it, remember, I told you so.

...I've had my measles shots and I think I'll be okay.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Hello to my readers in Finland

Hello my readers in Finland!

Do I know you personally or did you just surf across my blog? Are you interested in English teaching or Japan? Or did my friend Conan O'Brien tell you about me?

I am glad to see your continued readership, and I hope this can be a place where our countries (the USA, Japan and Finland) can get to know each other in peace and friendship.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

When I first started speaking Japanese

When I first started studying Japanese, I was reading a little yellow
Lonely Planet book I had borrowed from a friend. There was a Japanese
girl I saw a lot on campus, I knew her name but I had never talked to
her. She looked so cool.

I read "O-genki desu ka?" ("how are you?") in that book, and sooo wanted
to say it to this girl. But I didn't know how to pronounce it and I was
afraid to say anything. It would be kind of weird to meet someone the
first time and hear them greet you in your own language... and then they
can't say anything else. So I never said anything.

Now I am the one, cool foreigner that every one is afraid to talk to.
When I looked into smy students eyes today in class, I wondered if they
were feeling the same way.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


More useless Japanese trivia:

You are NOT supposed to smile when you have your portrait taken. Not on
your driver's license, not in your school photograph, not in that funny
little picture of yourself you send with your resume (that's expected in
Japan), NEVER smile when you are having your portrait taken.

Monday, May 07, 2007

My Middle Name

Again today, for the yearbook, I had to explain my middle name. Japanese
people only have first and last names. And actually the family name
comes first in Japanese, so when you say first name they get really

Japanese people always ask, why do you have a... middle?... name? And
I've begun to wonder the same question. Why do we have middle names?

I suppose we value being individual, and we fight over children's names.
Japanese people don't value individuality as much, and they rarely argue
anyway. They just submit to authority, and someone in the family always
has authority. ...usually the grandparents. :) Isn't that a change from
American culture?

Saturday, May 05, 2007


Like Kurosawa I make mad films. K, I don't make films. But if I did they'd have a samurai...

Yes, I'm long overdue for a personal post, I know.