“His name is…”

For the past few weeks in one of my kids classes, we’ve been learning about the family. “Who’s this?” “My father.” It’s been great fun, and we even all shared family photos. Well, last week, I had to teach “What’s your father’s name?” “His name is Ken.”

Now, maybe to you that doesn’t seem so bad, but it’s a practical nightmare to six year old Japanese kids. One, lots of kids don’t even know their family member’s names. Two, there’s no easy, fun way for me to teach that structure. It’s just tough to teach all around and it takes a long time for kids to grasp the concept. In my class, I have six really adorable girls and they’re all pretty smart, so I was able to teach it without too much difficulty…or so I thought.

I had to go in a circle and ask each girl individually and help to elicit the answer. The first five girls got it no problem. But then I got to my sixth little girl Ayami. She’s really great when we do things as a group, but the minute I ask just her a question, she goes all shy and unsure of herself. So, I asked her what her father’s name was, knowing full well that she had heard all five girls answer correctly, the main reason that I had left her for last. After asking her, she very, very slowly answered with me prompting every word. “R:His…A:his…R:name…A:name…R:is…A:is…” And then I waited because I had no idea what her father’s name was. And then she lays it on me, “Pokemon.” So, my little girl told me that her father’s name was Pokemon. And after trying my very hardest not to laugh out loud in class, I affirmed her, then proceeded to throw open the classroom door, and ask her mom what his name was. And the answer sounded absolutely nothing at all like Pokemon. And then for the rest of the lesson, I had to ask her mom what all her family member’s names were because she just had no idea whatsoever.

Kids say the darndest things, but you haven’t heard anything until they try to tell you things in another language.


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