Japanese Kids Say The Darndest Things

With the 2014-2015 school year about to commence, I thought it was a good time to reflect; take a look back at the last year and think about how far I’ve come, the great memories I have made, and most importantly, all the crazy-arse things that my darling little children have come out with!  Kids are hilarious in any language, but I feel like they become extra hilarious when either they don’t know what they are saying, or they think I don’t know what they’re saying.  Both of these situations occur almost daily, and the results are side-splitting.  So, without further ado, let me entertain you all with tales of the various utterances of my little darlings.

Poo

Or in Japanese, Unko.  This short word is an endless source of entertainment and mirth for practically all of the kids that I teach, but particularly the boys.  They love to say it, they love to talk about it, they love to describe it in great detail, and they especially love to draw pictures of it.  Now, as you may or may not already know, Japan has an obsession with everything ‘Kawai’ (cute), and this is certainly not limited to just those things which are already cute.  So, week after week my whiteboard is covered with drawings of poo, many of them transformed into adorable little characters, each with their own unique stench waves.

One of the most amusing poo-related incidents was when one of my 9 year old boys (the principal poo artist in this particular class) requested ‘poo coloured’ when I asked him what colour he wanted.  I answered straight back that I didn’t have brown, and gave him pink instead.  He grinned most cheekily, as only evil 9 year olds can, and I knew that he knew that I knew what he had said.  It is now his favourite colour to request; just so he can see my reaction I’m sure.

Accidental Word Replacement

Spelling and pronunciation are two main areas of focus when learning a language; and the mistakes students inevitably make can be positively hilarious.

A 6 year old boy running around the classroom saying ‘bong’ and occasionally ‘beer bong’ instead of ‘ball’.

A 3 year old girl saying ‘snarly’ in a most adorable fashion, when asked how the weather was on a snowy day.

A 9 year old girl who wrote ‘He’s wearing a shit’ in her homework; keeping a straight face for that one was a struggle let me tell you.

A 7 year old girl doing a ‘guess the letter’ alphabet activity and writing h-o-r instead of j-a-r; proceeding to sound it out, and telling me the jar was a whore.

The same 7 year old, along with her friend, mispronouncing the word ‘kitchen’ when asked the simple question of “Where’s your mother?” Or maybe both their mothers were indeed bitchin’.

Another word that sounds a lot like bitch is ‘bridge’, and sometimes 3 year olds just can’t sound out their ‘Rs’.

Repetition Without Thought

When the younger kids make mistakes, they are laughed at a little by their classmates, and then helped until they can produce the correct answer.  Once kids reach about 9 or 10, however, they are no longer so merciful.  A simple mispronunciation can result in 5 or 10 minutes of relentless mocking.  If a bigger, and/or funnier mistake is made, the teasing that ensues could almost be classified as torture.  Luckily these kids are made of pretty tough stuff, and they generally have shrugged it off by the end of the lesson.

I have a class of 3 boys and 3 girls of this age who cause me no end of grief and annoyance, so when a chance comes to retaliate, I rarely hesitate.  One boy is especially monstrous.  He is forever fighting with the other kids, and his is the name I yell most during class.  I have a rule in my classes, that if you cause mental or physical harm to another student, or the teacher, you have to apologise – in English.  This leads to me saying quite regularly ‘say “I’m sorry ____”’, which the villainous child then dutifully repeats.  On one occasion, after monster boy had injured nice boy in some way, shape or form, I took advantage of his complete willingness to recite anything I said, by adding in a little ‘I love you’ after the standard apology.  The monster was half way through when he realised what he was about to say; unfortunately for him all the other kids had also realised.  He proceeded to curl in a ball with his face to the floor and fake cry for a while.  The rest of the class (me included) proceeded to laugh at him without mercy until he finally showed his face again (after some encouragement via tickling).

Well, That Certainly Isn’t Appropriate

Kids love to push boundaries; they love testing the outer limits of a teacher’s understanding and patience.  These tests often involve quite inappropriate topics of conversation, in both English and Japanese.

Hentai, sex, body parts and other – for want of a better word – interesting topics are often the source of great entertainment for some children, who seem to sense my distress most uncannily – despite my best efforts to remain cool, calm and collected – and then of course proceed to encourage their classmates to get in on the fun, regularly using the whiteboard, stuffed animals, or their own bodies, to act out their imaginings.

Fantastic Baby

Kids aren’t always evildoers, intent on wreaking havoc everywhere they go; they can regularly be downright adorable.  One of my students is a huge fan of Korean pop music.  His favourite band is Big Bang, and he really loves to sing their songs, while simultaneously doing their trademark sexy dance moves.  The song he has been singing almost every lesson for the last few weeks is Fantastic Baby.  I thoroughly recommend you youtube it if you don’t know it. My student and I both prefer the Japanese version, and he knows ALL the lyrics.  He’s three years old.

Another song lyric related story comes from my monster 10 year old yet again.  I do not know exactly where he learned the phrase, but given the mini performance I received afterwards I can only assume it comes from a fairly popular song.  I’m not sure if he knew the meaning of what he was saying, or if it was just a lucky coincidence, but after I yelled at him for what felt like the millionth time that year, he said “Don’t cry baby”.

So there you have it.  This is certainly not all, but my memory is unfortunately not always perfect, and I did my best to share with you those moments which I at least found very amusing.  I hope it brightened your day!  Maybe this time next year I’ll have another list, from some new kids, and some of the same.  I feel like I have an interesting and exciting year ahead of me.  Wish me luck!

I know this post is currently quite bare looking, but I thought it was better to just get it up, sans photos, given how slack I’ve been these last few months.  It’s been a crazy year so far already!  I’ll try to add in some hanami photos when I get the chance, or maybe I’ll do a whole ‘nother post just on that.  Who knows? Not me!

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