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An International Three Way Language Conference

October 26th, 2005 Leave a comment Go to comments

Wednesday is always a busy day for me – I had lots of new lessons, and they are all in a row so it is pretty exhausting. By the end of it I was drained out. I took the last period of the day to rest up, and then the visiting students from Taiwan showed up.

A while back our school had invited a group of high school students from Taiwan to visit our school. Today they showed up, and our school had really rolled out the red carpet for them. It was very interesting because their students didn’t speak Japanese, and our students didn’t speak Chinese.

When I arrived they had seated the Taiwan students in the big meeting room, and they all sat quietly and patiently in their school uniforms waiting for the visit to start. Our students were in class still, so the history teacher was in there doing some sort of entertainment patter in Japanese, broken English, and shattered Chinese. The students sat there trying to figure out what the heck he was saying. He asked me to go in and say hello, and as soon as I walked in everyone burst into applause like someone had just done a magic trick.

They were all smiling, and I said hello and introduced myself in English. Everyone answered back in English, and it seemed like they really knew their stuff. I promised that I would be back, and went over to search out our students. They started arriving, and everyone sat across from a Taiwanese student. The speeches started soon after.

The group had brought a translator who spoke in flawless Chinese. I eagerly waited to hear his Japanese and when it came, it was pretty bad. Not as bad as mine, but not very good. You could see on my students’ faces that they knew what his native language was.

Of course everyone was taking pictures, and they staged an international handshake, exchanged gifts, and it all seemed pretty forced to me. The students were patient with it, and finally after it was all over, we divided them into groups and toured them around school.

This was a great time for the students to try to communicate, and it was fascinating to watch. They had to use English to communicate, it was the only language that they had both studied. My students did pretty well – I was proud of them. Nobody got frustrated and quit, and people were making friends and smiling a lot. I talked with a few students in English and they were quite good – better than my students, I’d say.

My group was with Ms. Tsutsumi, and it was all girls. The Taiwanese girls wanted to see everything, take pictures of everything (especially the cute boys on the sports field), and it took quite a while to get everyone back in the meeting room to wrap things up.

As we walked around Takasago Minami students that were not involved often came up to say hello in English, and occasionally Chinese. They wanted to participate, and they weren’t so shy about it. My students also got to speak with me more in English. They would consult with me about an English expression, get it right, and then ask the Taiwanese student.

One other interesting observation was that my students were complaining that the male Taiwanese students were not so interested in talking with the male Japanese students – they were far more interested in the girls. Also, the Taiwanese girls weren’t shy about calling a Japanese boy over for a picture if they thought he was cute. I think their aggressiveness really took my students by surprise.

It got to 5 o’clock and there were still students roaming around the school under the guidance of the history teacher. I snuck out of there, right on time for my usual day, but early for the event. I think I missed the closing ceremonies and handshakes; maybe I missed a group photo if I’m really lucky.

Overall, I think it was a success. Once you got the speeches and the bravado over with, the students could get to know each other, and that’s what really mattered. The Taiwanese students gave out little cards with their cellphone number, e-mail, and their address in Taiwan to our students, and so maybe they will try to stay in touch over time. Inter-Asian diplomacy has been pretty crappy lately, so things like this can only be good.

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