Katakana Drama

, , , , | Learning | February 1, 2019

(Between ninth and tenth grade, my family moves and I have to attend a new school system. Luckily, my new school offers Japanese — my choice of foreign language the previous year. The first day, I find out that the Japanese II and III classes are held in the same room simultaneously. Seems a little weird to me, but I don’t question it. The teacher introduces himself as a Chinese man who knows both English and Japanese, and then he hands out our assignments. The assignment for Japanese II students is to read Japanese words written with English letters and write them with the appropriate hiragana — effectively the Japanese alphabet. It’s very basic stuff, and I turn in the assignment quickly.)

Teacher: “Oh, you finished this so soon? You’re so smart!”

Me: “…”

(He gives me a few more easy assignments, then decides to let me work on the Japanese III worksheets, translating basic Japanese sentences into English. They’re all the same assignments I had been doing by the end of Japanese I at my old school, and by the end of the day it’s clear people only take the class for an easy A. My classmates can barely read hiragana, nobody knows katakana, and vocabulary is basically non-existent. I mention this to my mother a few days later, but neither of us really know what to do. Fast-forward to the end of our second week, AKA test day. I walk in to find we have a substitute.)

Me: “Hey, where’s [Teacher]?”

Substitute: “He said he’ll be back about halfway through class; you can just get started on your test.”

(I finish the test after a few minutes. Sure enough, about halfway into the class period, the teacher shows up and begins rummaging through his desk… for all of ten minutes, after which he leaves again. I don’t pay it much mind until the other students start to hand in their papers, at which point…)

Student: “Wait, where the f*** is our teacher? Shouldn’t he be here by now?”

(The teacher doesn’t show up for the rest of the day. Students start joking that he just got fired, with a few jokingly giving a eulogy for his career or swapping stories about his ridiculous behavior in previous years. I specifically remember one student claiming he was yelled at for trying to keep a world map from falling off the wall. Come Monday next week, we walk in to find yet another sub, who announces at the beginning of class:)

Substitute #2: “All right. As some of you may have heard, [Teacher] has resigned.”

Class: “Are you kidding?!”

(Yes, he resigned exactly two weeks into the school year. Our class from then on was overseen by the French teacher, as he was the only other teacher who knew any Japanese, and after a few weeks we were assigned to take online courses for the rest of the year.)

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