Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Small Adventures #25

Last November, I got a small temporary job teaching English at a conversation school about a 15 minute walk from the apartment. One of the two teachers at the school had returned home for a 3-week vacation and I was asked in to cover a couple of 1, 2 and 3-student lessons a couple of times each week. It wasn't great money, but it did help cover part of the expenses that month. After the teacher returned, the owner of the school had me come back to teach one specific student that had an erratic schedule and wanted lessons during the week when the other two teachers were tied up at other schools. Again, it was just enough to cover for lunches in December. Then the holidays came up and the work dried up.

In September, I started taking Japanese lessons at the International Exchange Center. 10 lessons, 2.5 hours every Wednesday from 10:00 AM to 11:30, for 1500 yen total ($20 USD, a very nice deal). The group was split in 2, one half focusing on conversation and the other on writing kanji. About halfway through the course, the teacher told the speaking group to create our own speeches as if we were going to enter the foreigner's speech contest to be held in January (the preliminary round is on Jan. 14). On the last day of the course, in mid-December, the conversation group gave our speeches (5-7 minutes each) and the writing group had to present 1-2 paragraphs that they'd written based on a favorite kanji character. That day was just before the deadline for entering the speech contest itself, and I figured that if I was going to put that much effort into writing one that I might as well go all the way. No entry fee, one first place prize of 40,000 yen ($480 USD) and one honorable mention. There's no way I can possibly win, given the number of graduate foreign students studying at the neighboring university that are sure to also compete, but I figure that I might get a little visibility this way.

The next Japanese conversation course is just starting up, with the first Wednesday lesson on Jan. 11, from 10 AM to 11:30 AM. This would give me just one chance to practice in front of an audience prior to the preliminary round 3 days later. Tuesday night, the 10th, I was out at a quiet public space, trying to memorize my speech when I got a cellphone call from the English school saying that the student I was teaching last month had gotten their work schedule for the week, and the only time they're available for two back-to-back English lessons would be Jan. 11 from 10 AM to noon...

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