Pears, I tell you


Conversation starter right here

There are days when I cannot believe that my job is teaching English and it’s for good reasons, and then there are days like today. Days where I have dropped my son off at childcare despite him getting over bronchitis (again!) and believing he would be better off at home, but I shouldn’t take yet another day off for this company and cancel on these students yet again. Days where I spent 30 minutes trying to find my keys and had to do all sorts of mad dashing to get to work at all. Days where I’ve lugged my laptop in despite the fact it will be raining and I have a fair bit of walking outside to do, primarily so I can play the listening task. Days where I’ve prepared for their lessons the previous night and in the aftermath of the previous week’s lesson despite never being paid for that time. Days where I remember all the little details, like who doesn’t work well together, who sits where, who can’t see the whiteboard well.

It felt like it had taken me a good bit of effort to front up at all for class, and I started the lesson by reminding them brightly that we were practicing the past tense today, talking about what we did over the summer. They knew this in advance, because I also work out what we’re doing when and let them know, and they nodded agreeably as I said it. Then the student with the biggest ego in the group kicked things off and declared that during the summer, he eat pears. “I eat pears last summer.” He said it twice. His English is actually pretty good and I wondered, not for the first time, if he’s really just trolling me with these random exhibitions of shitty grammar.

And then the rest of them were off, talking about pears and slipping in as much Japanese as they possibly could. Because pears. There are a number of different types of Japanese pears and not only do they know what they are but what’s supposedly different about them and which region of Japan each is grown in. They still can’t remember that kuri is chestnut and marron isn’t English and we’ve had this conversation every autumn for the last five plus years. Apparently, even expecting them to remember that ate is the past tense of eat is a bit much. But hey. Those pears.

I know there are worse things I could be doing than teaching English to (elderly) adults who want to stay on the same language plateau forever after. It’s decent money and most of the time, I like these students as people. It’s just that after the effort it had taken just to successfully be there at all, to have the students want to spend the lesson discussing pear breeds in Japanese was a bit… dumbfounding, I guess.