Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Teaching English to Japanese pre-teens is rewarding and enjoyable and, on a less pleasant note, sheds light on the little spelling and abnormal quirks of our language. Today during my English class for the special education class, I was teaching the days of the week, the first six months of the year and the four seasons. While I began to write the names of the months on the chalkboard, I froze while writing the word January. Crap. With all eyes on me, the blood drained from my face as I realized that writing that word is simply habit. When extensively focusing on the spelling of the word January, panic set in. Where was my best friend, Spell Check, to help me out in my time of need? Out bowling with my other buddy Second Nature, I guess. Those two are officially no longer my friends.

JANUARY? The word itself began to just sound absurd in the way that any word does if you repeat it to yourself enough. For example buttress. I mean, is that seriously a word that we allow to exist in our language!? Jan. U. Ary. That seems logical was my first fleeting thought. But then I remembered our dear friend, Feb RU ary. February? Is that a joke? What is with the silent R? Perhaps at some time in the antiquity of English it was pronounced.

My hand began to shake as I held the chalk to the board, fully aware that 30 plus sets of eyes were locked on me, the new foreign teacher conducting her first real lesson. Would she fail? This was my moment to impress them all! And, thankfully, I remembered my training. We were told to make a decision and stick with it, complete confidence shining through. If you forget who the first president was, as inexcusable as it may seem, if you say CLINTON with enough gusto, perhaps your attitude alone will make it correct enough for the students, anyway...

So, with chalk to chalkboard, I went with my gut. J-A-N-U-A-R-Y. Phew! I checked later and luckily, it was correct. No stupid, hidden R in that one! Thus, my lesson was a success, and perhaps a future generation of eager Japanese kiddos will move forward in life spelling the first month of the year correctly.

I blew the MINDS of those kids with my perfect spelling of JANUARY!

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