Well, the inevitable has finally come to pass: some of my students have figured out that I don’t understand Japanese. Not that this is a very interesting revelation in itself. But if you follow a certain train of logic (which, mercifully, not all of my students are capable of), you will come to the horrifying conclusion that I have no power to control the class. Yes, it’s true. While I may have been an imposing, if not a little short, figure to the NSC Youth Group, none of it matters if you can’t speak the language. Consequently, I lost COMPLETE control of my class last week. And I truly mean complete. It happened the moment the Japanese helpers (Nozomi and Mrs. Taniguchi) left the room. The students had been a little feisty even with them there, but as soon as they walked out, all hell broke loose. They were shouting. They were chasing one another. They were hiding behind the movable bulletin boards. One of them, I kid you not, was jumping up and down on a table. And there was absolutely nothing I could do. I didn’t know how to reprimand them in Japanese, and they pretended not to understand my English. All I could do was stare around the room slack-jawed and disbelieving. It was like something out of a movie.

Rest assured, Mrs. Taniguchi came back in, quickly assessed the situation from the hallway, and entered the room shouting in an extremely commanding voice. I have no idea what she said, but it took only seconds for them to sit down and close their mouths. She was pretty frightening. Most of them looked more than a little scared.

I think I will ask Nishikawa sensei to teach me some basic commands during my next Japanese lesson. Maybe even some not-so-basic ones, such as “Stop jumping up and down on that desk right now!” or, “Don’t make me get Mrs. Tanaguchi!”

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