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 [ichinensei] Ichinensei (First Year Students) Last updated 
2 Apr 1999 

The Classrooms  
There are only 13 of us, so usually we arrange the chairs in a semicircle in a classroom like this. Once a week though, we sit at the front of this nicer room. We also use the nicer room for large gatherings and usually for test day (Friday). On Mondays and Tuesdays, we use the Language Lab to listen to Japanese tapes and answer questions about them.

The Teachers  
We have three Japanese sensei. All of them are Japanese, and they all know English (to varying degrees). We don't usually use English in the classroom, though, so having three different Japanese sensei is very effective. They all have their own strong points, quirks, and teaching methods, so it adds a little variety into the rigor of daily instruction.

Melville-sensei, who always makes class fun.
Yonezawa-sensei, who always uses lots of helpful props.
Aizawa-sensei, who always makes sure you know your stuff.

The Students  
And of course, there's all of us -- the 13 of us that make up the first year JCMU Japanese class of Winter/Spring 1999:

Class Picture 1
back: Pollock-san, Laursen-san, Gaty-san, Houbeck-san, Cousins-san, Cain-san
middle: Miah-san, Yonezawa-sensei
front: Watson-san, Acker-san, Trombley-san, Pitaniello-san, Kennedy-san, Proctor-san.

Class Picture 2
back: Pollock-san, Laursen-san, Gaty-san, Houbeck-san
middle: Miah-san, Yonezawa-sensei, Kennedy-san, Cain-san
front: Watson-san, Acker-san, Pitaniello-san, Trombley-san, Cousins-san.

Sometimes class is interesting (Cousins-san, Cain-san, Proctor-san, Pitaniello-san), but if we all stayed up too late the previous night, sometimes it's not (Kennedy-san, Houbeck-san, Cousins-san).

When we're sitting down, we listen to the sensei and answer questions fired at us (usually at the rate of about 5-6 questions per minute). Here's Yonezawa-sensei using one of her props "Howaito-san" (Mr. White) to teach us a certain grammar pattern. When the sensei want to reinforce something, they often call us to the front of the class to "act" out a certain part using Japanese (for example, a shopkeeper, customer, person waiting at a bus stop, taxi passenger, etc). Here's Miah-san holding an imaginary 500-yen item at the request of Melville-sensei.

We also usually have a daily dialogue that we have to memorize the night before and recite in pairs during the next day's class:
Trombley-san and Cain-san recite while Yonezawa-sensei grades.
Watson-san and Lindsay-san perform the dialogue.
Pitaniello-san and Trombley-san act it out while Yonezawa-sensei grades.
Gaty-san and Cousins-san try not to laugh too hard.

We have Japanese class for three hours (three periods) every Monday through Thursday. Normally the sensei speak only in Japanese, and we students respond only in Japanese. Except for special questions and answers, this usually works very well. Every once in a while, however, an English word will slip out of a student's mouth at the wrong time. If this happens in Yonezawa-sensei or Melville-sensei's class, you're probably safe (although they discourage it). If a peep of English leaves your lips in front of Aizawa-sensei, though, be prepared to pay the consequences... literally! Aizawa-sensei has a trademark phrase and "punishment" for such an occasion. For example:

Aizawa-sensei: Kotaete kudasai. Kinou nanika kaimashita ka?
Gakusei: Watashi desu ka. Anoo... bread o kaimashita.
Aizawa-sensei: Ee? Eigo! Eigo wa dame desu yo!
Gakusei: Aa, sumimasen!

(English Translation)
Mr. Aizawa: Please answer. Did you buy anything yesterday?
Student: You mean me? Umm... I bought bread.
Mr. Aizawa: Huh? English! English is no good, you know!
Student: Whoops! I'm sorry!

At this point, the class usually bursts out in laughter as Aizawa-sensei shakes his head and smiles, pulls out his change purse, and demands a 10-yen coin as compensation for the heinous crime committed.

Japanese class here at JCMU is definitely a lot of fun, but it's sometimes fast and frenetic. It's definitely different than any class I've seen in the United States (which is a good thing!)

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