Now that I have started on and am keeping up to date with this first textbook of the Clair beginners' course in Japanese, I am trying to speak Japanese where and when I can. I still don't understand much but I continue to learn and improve.
The book is divided into weeks and each week is divided into five sections. This means that if I do one section each day of the week, I will stay on top of it all. Each section so far has been quite small and most of it is recap, but it gives me the opportunity to go over what I read more than once and to repeat the drills that are at the end of each section. Repetition stimulates memorisation.
One interesting thing I found out yesterday was regarding Japanese dates. I have mentioned before that when denoting the year, the Japanese use both the Gregorian calendar and their own Imperial system. Each period has its own name and each period starts anew at year one. (see: Comparisons).
Currently, we are in the 20th year of the heisei period. Therefore, in some instances, this year is called heisei nijuunen (nijuu = 20). In other cases it is nisenhachi (sen = 1,000).
What I found interesting was that last period was called the Shouwa period. I teach in the nearby town of Shouwa on Thursdays (same kanji as the Imperial period). The previous period was called Taisho (once again, exact same kanji). Wait a sec, I live in Taisho!
Before Taisho was the Meiji period. This is well-known by anyone that has looked into Japanese history, as a lot happened during the Meiji period, which was during the 19th century.
Pretty crazy that these two periods are named the same as the towns where I teach and live, huh.
Today, I took a couple of classes at Iejigawa (another town with the kanji / word for river at the end). The first class was unorganised -- ichi-ninensei (1st and 2nd graders). I think there was a communication problem because I didn't realise I was supposed to have planned something. It sort of worked out as we went through aisatsu (greetings) with the children pretending to be doubutsu (animals). I also incorporated a game with Halloween shashin (pictures) to fill in the rest of the time.
I was given an entire period to plan for the second lesson, which was with the san-rokunensei (3rd to 6th graders). I made up two large sheets with the alphabet on them (nice and colourful).
The first part of the lesson was briefly recapping aisatsu (good morning, etc) with the kids. We then played Vanishing Man with the same Halloween pics I used with the ichi-ninensei. After that, I played a running around game that had four of the pictures in four places. The kids had to run to the correct picture when it was called and then get back to the middle to touch a jack-o-lantern bucket. The last one to run to the correct picture and back was out.
You can't go wrong if you make kids run, lol.
We planned my next visit, which isn't until the start of December. This time I will be organised!