Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How do you say "wakarimasen" in English?

Today the third grade teacher at Tobu JHS decided to teach some classroom English so that while the students wrote essays about their school trip they could ask me and Nathan for help. The first phrase she taught them was "How do you say _____ in English?" She didn't take into account though that Nathan and I both speak very little Japanese. So yeah, I spent 4 hours today saying "Uh....I don't know. Sorry." I am not a dictionary!

I am a spelling bee champion though. (Sharonville ES 1994 oh yeah!) And it's a good thing because the second question was "How do you spell ______?" So I wasn't completely useless today.


  1. Even if you can understand Japanese, it's best not to translate for them. Once you start, they will ask you all of the time. They'll stop trying to express themselves with the vocabulary they already know and they won't look up words themselves.

    I made this mistake once early on with a student and even though I have told her many, many times since then that she needs to look up the words herself, she keeps asking me. She's the only student I made this mistake with, and it was a real object lesson.

  2. Very good advice! I keep trying to tell the teachers here that the students need to focus on writing what they already know they can say rather than trying to write something in Japanese and then change it into English, but I still get worksheets with a place for Japanese at the top and English at the bottom.