Thursday, March 27, 2008

6th grade last class

Yesterday was the last English class with my 6th graders. Two of them have been coming for 6 years and while I can't say that any of them turned out to be fluent in English, they have developed a very good "feel" for English, aren't afraid of unknown words and can put together the puzzle of language to grasp a situation without really knowing what exactly is being said. I don't know if that is enough to show for 6 years of studying but at least they don't have the English "allergy" which is often contracted by students when they start jr. high (the years when English is officially taught.)

For our final lesson we did about an hour of text work just because we were so close to finishing the book and then into the kitchen we went to cook dinner! This is the class that often comes early and ends up helping me cook my evening's dinner but they had never been able to sample their efforts so last night we arranged for them to have a longer class and we made potato soup and a casserole and then ate dinner together.

It sure is a good thing that this class is so small because more people wouldn't be able to fit in my kitchen and as it was, they were bumping into each other and stepping on toes.

First chop vegetables but basically used the food processor which made it easy. Even this simple machine, which Japanese housewives use too, was an adventure for my kids. I guess none of them spend too much time in the kitchen helping their mothers.

Next simmer ground meat and onions and one boy took over that job while the others added ingredients as I instructed.

"Okay. Someone open the can of white sauce."

"Yuck! We're putting white sauce in the meat?"

"Yep. Okay use the can opener and open the can of tomatoes."

"What is this thing?" (They had never seen a can opener and truly, most Japanese use the old style leverage can opener that leaves a rough jagged edge.) "Ooh! Cool! Let me try!" (Think of how they would have reacted if I'd had an electric can opener!)

"Add the tomatoes to the meat mixture."

"Gross! We're mixing tomatoes into this pot. It looks like (un unmentionable)."

"That is beside the point. It will taste good when it is finished. Okay, here is a jar of olives. Does anyone know what olives are?" (Nope. This is an unknown ingredient in Japan. I found them in the gourmet store in the next city over.) "Now, chop those up and add them to the pot. Please give them a taste so you know what they really taste like." (that suggestion may have been a mistake.)

"Sensei. I don't think I'm going to be able to eat this stuff. The olive is horrible! It's stuck in my throat!" (a sixteenth of an olive?) "Somebody give me some water!"

"You guys sound like some of the foreigners who come to Japan and gag over a pickled plum."

"Pickled plums are great. Olives aren't edible!"

"It will be all right when it's all cooked. Believe me. Okay, now add all this cold left-over rice and mix it up."

"That's going too far. It looks ever grosser!"

"Just pour it all in the casserole dish and sprinkle it with the cheese. Now it goes in the oven and after you clean up the kitchen we can play a game."

So we played CLUE which they enjoyed and then dinner was ready to serve and eat. It was the first time for any of them to eat casserole. The first time for them to have a paper napkin (instructed them to put it on their laps). The first time for them to have grace said before a meal. They didn't know what to do with the fork not because they'd never used a fork before, but since we'd put out spoons (for the soup) they were just using the spoon to eat both the soup and the casserole.

"Hey, this is good! I can't taste that horrible olive at all!"

"I think I can, but it doesn't taste that bad anymore."

"Can I have seconds?"

I had to remind them that they needed to save a portion for Tetsu's dinner later and poor Tetsu barely had enough to satisfy him. But I was so pleased that the kids seemed to like their American meal and enjoy the cooking and the cleaning up process. (I made them wash their dishes too!) They'd brought donuts for dessert so I was able to forgo the cookies I had also planned to make.

My 6th graders have been a great class and I'm going to miss them. I hope they'll remember their brush with American culture, with the English language and with me, fondly!


Sarah said...

Pickled plums made me chuckle, I think I'd prefer a spoonful of salt that a pickled plum.

Must be an acquired taste.

anne bebbington said...

I love the picture of them all in the kitchen - and so good for them to try something out of their food comfort zone - you have such patience

Clare said...

At least they ate it! I love olives.

I'm listening to BBC Radio 4 at the moment. They are on about the cherry blossom ceremony.

Sew Create It - Jane said...

What a wonderful story. You sound like a good teacher...a patient teacher LOL But as you said, I'm sure you have made a memory for them that they won't forget.

Elaine Adair said...

An excellent lesson for the kids - casserole sounds great, but olives? That's a new one - GREEN or BLACK?

harts4Him said...

Wish I would have been there. What a cool teacher you are! They are blessed to have you!

Happy Day!

Shelina said...

That sounds like so much fun. When we get an exchange student this summer, we are definitely going to have to have her involved in the kitchen. I think last year, I cooked, and Sushi cooked, but I don't think we really got Ayaka involved very much.

Marilyn R said...

Sounds like your students had a fun and yummy time! What a great experience for them!

Amanda said...

Aren't children wonderful! Your blog made me really miss the children I used to teach - they hadn't learnt about tact either!