Saturday, September 30, 2006

B's new pen pal...

We finally got B's first letter to his new pen pal, Seiji, in the mail yesterday. Hooray! B typed a letter in both japanese & english & we also included a copy (6 pages) of the database we made this summer of japanese pokemon terms translated into english & a picture of B & Rufus (Seiji's mom had already emailed a picture of Seiji with his dog). We got the letter out just in time because Tomoko arrived for our lesson today with an envelope from Seiji & his mom containing more japanese pokemon cards :) This time it was not only cards passed down from Seiji's older brother (who's outgrown them) but 2 brand-new supplemental packs- pretty nifty! Tomoko decided to use some of the pokemon cards as the basis of part of our lesson, too. She printed the names of some of the pokemon in katakana (the alphabet mostly used for names of pokemon, & the alphabet B has not started learning yet) with the hiragana letters underneath. B reads the hiragana pretty fluently, so he was able to read the names, but then he had to find the right card- which meant that he had to match the katakana letters :) I realised that it was a very sneaky & effective way to introduce B to the katakana & so I did very little to help out :) (I read both alphabets fairly fluently) He did a great job of matching the cards & we talked about what the names might mean, compared with the english versions of the names. We took a brief break in the middle to enjoy yet another box of goofy japanese candies that I'd found- mini ice cream cones made of chocolate & cookie. The inside of the box explained the "virtues" of eating each of the colours of candy: orange ones gave you energy, cream ones made you good at schoolwork, & pink ones, if shared with someone you like, would make them like you back. B did the 10-year-old gross-out over that one & we cracked up. B was very focused on the lesson- I think he managed to stay with us for 50 minutes or so, which was fabulous! Tomoko ended by requesting B ask her questions in japanese, so he asked her 3 questions & then asked to be excused by saying "gochisosamadeshita", which is how you ask to be excused from the table. Tomoko laughed because one of the translations is "thanks for the delicious food", but got the picture. Then she & I worked on verbs. I am trying to learn to recognise verbs by ear, as well as use them in sentences. When I use them in conversation with B he learns them too, & says them back to me, which reinforces my learning. It was fun to learn more, but after a while I feel like my head is going to explode :) Tomoko is a great teacher, though. We're so lucky to have found her!

After lesson I suggested to B that maybe he could send some of the english pokemon cards that he has loads of duplicates of to Seiji, to thank him for the japanese ones & give Seiji some fun practise with english. Tomoko had told us today that Seiji's mom is absolutely delighted that B wants to write to him & help him to practise his english, which he just began learning this year in school. Seiji is very excited at the prospect of getting mail from the US, too. What really got B excited was the possibility of visiting Seiji when we go to Japan next year. Since he lives pretty close to Tomoko's family, on the southern island of Kyushu, & we'll be visiting Tomoko's family while we're there, it's a pretty good bet that we'll get to do it. It'll be fun to help B learn things to say to Seiji in japanese, other than fart & butt :) Ummm... yeah, could be interesting...


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