21 December 2007

Lesson of the Day: Pigs Are Awesome

Today, much like Wednesday and Monday, and next week, I was correcting and reviewing scripts for student's show and tell presentations which they will do early in January. It's been incredibly frustrating, because I have reason to think the English level in the scripts is generally below the testable level of the students -- second year middle school. In worst case scenarios, I might describe the scripts as "impressionistic", as in, I can get only an impression of what they're trying to say. The problem is, major grammar mistakes. I don't know where they got these from, but they're pretty consistent. With maybe 25% of the scripts, it seems to be laziness rather than lack of understanding. Starting sentences with "And", "But", "Because" or "So" is just plain bad grammar that any native speaker's English teacher snapped at them about at some point or another. "Because, the reason is because..." came up a few times. I hope this pattern did not come from a text book, or I'll flip out and take out a whole village. Other big problem is, students trying to overshoot their previously stated "testable English level". This is commendable because they're trying, but, if they're making up sentence structure and grammar as they go long because they want to say in English what they'd like to say in Japanese, it's yabai. The top 25% of the scripts are, however, fantastic. Basic but succinct, charming English. There's one that's by far the best thing I've seen a student write, and I want to share it with the world.
Hello! Today I'm going to show you a pig doll. It's about 2000 yen [CDN $17.50]. It's name is "Boo-chan" [something like "Oinky"]. He is very pretty because his nose is big.

My grandmother gave me a pig doll in Safari Park four years ago, but there aren't any pigs in the park.

Do you like pigs? I love pigs. Pork is delicious and pigs are a lot of fun.

Thank you.
I actually cracked up laughing in the teacher's office when I read the last line. BRILLIANT!

6 December 2007

A Lil' Taste of Home

No, not maples products. Not beaver tales, not Nanaimo bars, nor Thousand Islands sauce, poutine or Digby scallops lightly buttered and rolled in crushed dulse and pan fried to perfection (oh... my... god...). But rather, good old fashion Thai red curry. Yes. Thai red curry is by far the most Canadian meal I could think of.

It turns out the most widely sold brand of Thai curry you can get in Japan is a variety I used to buy back in "the old country". Since produce from Japan is almost the same as Canada, I'm able to make pretty much anything I want and -- to seal a phrase from a of a long-dead Japanese emperor -- "manifestly so," I cracked open some coconut milk with the jackknife-like Japanese can opener and served up some red curry with satsuma imo (more or less, a sweet potato), broccoli, spinach, onions and chicken! For the record, this is not the first time I made curry in Japan. Last time I made a from-scratch recipe involving the appropriate spices, yogurt, peppers and octopus, and had some sort of bizarre allergic reaction that I at this point can only attribute to strong agricultural chemicals on the peppers. The last time I made curry, I thought I was gonna die, so this new curry is big news!

Anyway, my only reason for posting this atrocity of a blog entry is to brag about my lovely curry, which did satisfy my nostalgic for home since this was my old stable food, so I should just stop now.