David Chart's Japan Diary

December 19th 2004

The weather here has finally turned cold. It's been unseasonably warm this year, but the last couple of days have been decidedly chilly. Yesterday was clear, so I was able to get away without using the heater much by leaving the curtains open and letting the sun in; being south-facing has advantages. Today is cloudy, so I fear I will have to use the heater a bit.

With the end of term approaching, there were a lot of tests last week. Well, I suppose there were actually only two big ones, but given that each took half a day's worth of lessons, that's 20% of our time spent taking tests. One was the final big test on the term's class work (mostly OK, I think, but with a very hard reading comprehension passage), and the other was the test used for calibrating everyone's abilities and setting next term's classes (again, mostly OK but with one very hard reading comprehension passage). Actually, although I say the reading comprehensions were hard, the actual passages were OK. It was more that, of the four options to answer some of the questions, three seemed to fit the passage about equally well, and none really seemed right.

Still, it seems that I am making progress in Japanese. On Friday, I and Park (my Korean classmate) were interviewed by half-a-dozen high school students for their school paper. That was quite interesting in itself. We had filled in a questionnaire in advance, for things like "What most surprised you in Japan?" For that question, I said it was the number of people I saw wearing school uniform on weekends. They raised that in the interview, and said that they didn't understand it either. The mystery deepens...

Anyway, the reason I say that it seems I'm making progress is that Sakai-sensei, who was my main teacher from January to March, was responsible for organising the interview on the Yamasa side, and she sat in for much of it. Afterwards, she said that our conversational ability had improved drastically since she last taught us (March for me; I'm not sure when she last taught Park); we used 'so much grammar'. She also said that she was applauding inside much of the time, which was very nice to hear.

Apart from that, busy week again. I think the editing is now on schedule, and the writing and general admin remain there, so that's good. I've done today's writing allotment, and after I put this diary entry up I should go and do my weekly shopping. I might even get some more editing done today!