Today some of the juku kids practiced their English on me. Not much actual communication took place. I still can’t figure out why they kept saying “a lot of sheep.” I asked Kagura-sensei, “Why are they talking about sheep!? Are they studying animals? Are they studying irregular plural forms?” She either could not or was unwilling to explain the significance of the sheep. I drew one sheep on the whiteboard, then a lot of sheep, and they said, “Ohhh!” indicating that they had not previously known what a lot of sheep looked like. (Maybe they were studying “a lot,” “a few,” and “some”?)
Mostly what they did was claim to be people and things which they were not. “I’m Madonna! I’m Michael Jackson! I’m a jack’o’lantern! I’m a lot of sheep!” I said, “Nice to meet you, a lot of sheep.”
At one point one girl said, “I’m Peter Pan! This is my sister, uhh… she’s…”
On the theme of “male characters generally played by women,” and because I’d been thinking about Saiyuki, I said, “Are you Sanzo Houshi?”
“Yes! I’m Sanzo Houshi!”
“Oh! Nice to meet you, Sanzo Houshi!”
Later another girl said of another, “This is my sister, monkey” (I do not think any of these girls were actually sisters), and I said, “Oh, are you Son Goku?”
“No, no! I’m Madonna!” And then in Japanese, “You really like the Saiyuki, huh…”
“I like Minekura Kazuya’s Saiyuki.”
Surely Japan’s future is in good hands.
Relatedly, when I draw a monkey, none of the kids recognize it as such unless I put the Monkey King’s curly diadem on it. My monkey totally looks like a monkey! It’s not a skinny bear! Shut up, Zuzu!