I was totally stoked (how california does that sound?) to read that my pal Aubrey posted with a line from Jesus "El Saviorrrrrrrr" Christ Superstar. I read that line, and the melody just came right back even though it's been ages since i've heard that soundtrack. Great music - but the bass player on the British cast recording is far superior to the US recording.
Right. In any case, I was cleaning up my hard drive recently in preparation for transferring all of my files to my new computer (which I have not yet purchased), and I came across a bunch of stories and anecdotes from when I lived in Japan. I was thrilled because I thought most of that stuff had been lost or corrupted when my hard drive crashed. I kept somewhat of a half-assed journal/diary during that wacko time, and reading some of that stuff brought back some fun memories... including this:
The Japanese language is pretty different than ours. Aside from that whole "completely different character system" thing, they have sounds that English doesn't have... and vice versa. For example, the Japanese do not distinguish between L and R, resulting in difficulty for some Japanese people when pronouncing something like 'fried rice' or 'roller coaster.' Of course, it works the other way as well - English speakers have a tough time saying the sound in the Japanese language... it sounds like R and L pronounced simultaneously, and it took me about a year to be able to do it correctly. There's also no distinction between F and H, and the V sound just plain doesn't exist. Any Vs in English are pronounced as Bs in Japan.
So... my job is to teach English; more specifically my job is to help the kids pronounce their English words the way that a native speaker would. Given the above, it naturally follows that Japanese people would have a tough time differentiating the word "love" from the word "rub." Back in late September, I tested this with a few classes: I would stand facing the blackboard with my back to the class, and I would say either "love" or "rub." The kids then had to vote on which word I said. Aside from a few outstanding students, the kids relied on pure luck... half of them got it, half didn't. It was really funny.
That was September. It's now November, and I've done this a few times with the kids. They're really getting better at hearing the difference, which is very cool. However, I was at the supermarket the other day with Nick and Karen [two other teachers from the US] and I ran into some of my students. Nick and Karen teach junior high, and many of the kids that they taught are now in my classes. So we were all talking, and one girl said in English:
"Andrew-sensei, thank you for the love rub lesson."
(pause for effect)
I had some explaining to do. How dirty does that sound?!?!?! That's not the kind of thing that a 17-year old Japanese high school girl says to a 22-year old teacher. Karen and Nick are not gonna let me live that down. Jeez.
*I have to credit Az with the subject line... it's his term, and it's brilliant.