“Do you have a brown face?”

My day at work yesterday was almost as exciting as Tuesday’s was.  Saturdays are my longest day – in at 12, finished at 9:30 with only two short half-hour breaks.  The day before is Ashikaga day, so I’m dead tired.  From 5:45 to 9:30 I’ve got 7 classes back to back.  It’s kind of hectic.

“Do you have a brown face?”
Luckily, a few things perked up my day.  At 1:05 I teach my boss’s 8-year-old daughter.  Ironically, she hates English so most of the class is her telling me “oh, we don’t do this” and shoving papers away.  Very odd I think considering her mom is kind of strict.

Anyway, I’m feeling generous so I decide to have 10 minutes of game time instead of 5.  Most of the students’ English level is pretty low, so communication games are difficult, but I decided to try playing Guess Who with Sasha.

It’s going great until she asks me, “Do you have a brown face?”  Thinking she meant “Do you have brown hair on your face?” – like I said, their English is pretty broken, I gesture a mustache with my index finger and say no.  She looks at me quite confused, so I take a peak at her board.  Then I realize she was trying to ask if my person was African American.


That’s not the only instance something like that has happened.  When playing Chutes & Ladders in another class I chose the African American character, and my student’s jaw dropped.
I guess in a country where one nationality is the sweeping majority they’re not taught much about diversity or even being politically correct.

High School Musical sucks
One the few high school students I teach listens to an MD of High School Musical and transcribes what they’re saying (and, apparently, singing).  I’ve never seen it.  I hate these kinds of movies.  So far in class I’ve listened to maybe 3 minutes of it, and all I can gather is that there’s a basketball player who can sing but his teammates want him to, but some girl he likes wants him to.  Yep.

Well, we finally got to the part of the movie where there’s some singing and it was god-awful.  I actually hid my face in my scarf to hide my laughing.  This is Japan, the cheesier and happier the better.  Also, Japanese style would be to keep your mouth shut & smile – especially if you don’t like it, so scoffing is definitely out of the question.  Very disrespectful.

Hippies & bell-bottoms
My very last class, from 9-9:50 is three junior high boys.  They’re big fans of YouTube, and actually a pretty fun class.  We’re reading a chapter about fashion in America and we’ve gotten to the section on the 70s, so I was continually repeating the word hippie which was a really weird thing to do.  I tried explaining to them that, despite the description in the book that in the 70s they were peace-loving people, it’s actually an insult to call someone a hippie.  I also had to explain bell-bottoms (drew a bell on the board and pants on top of it…).  The class ended with me just telling them, “You guys like YouTube.  Go home and google “hippie.”  You’ll see a lot of funny pictures.”

They also keep diaries in which they write about their week.  One of the boys, Junki, wrote about listening to AKB48 and he thinks they’re really cute.  I sang a bit of this in class:


About Michelle

I lived in Japan for a year & a half teaching English. Now I'm blogging about learning to cook in NYC.
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One Response to “Do you have a brown face?”

  1. calapia says:

    Holy crap that is catchy – I love it.

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