Translating My JTE’s English

I’ve worked in Japan for awhile, so I’ve come to realize that my Japanese Teachers of English speak a certain kind of English that has all the right vocabulary and grammar for English, but all too often also uses Japanese politeness, indirectness, and “feeling the air” kind of sentences.

It goes something like so:

JTE– “Maybe we won’t have time to do it. Maybe next class we will have more time for your activity. Is that alright?”

Translation– “We don’t have any time for your shenanigans. Next time, ok?”

JTE – “Can you help me?”

Translation– “Help me, woman! Why are you just standing there?”

JTE– “Can you come with me to class?”

Translation-“Class is about to start. You are not in class. Go there now!”

JTE-“Maybe that’s too difficult.”

Translation-“That’s too difficult for me to understand. Explain it better or scrap the whole thing. Jeez, this is your second year, Jessica, get on it!”

JTE– “I want you to (do something). Do you have time? I know you are so busy.”

Translation– “We need this (thing) done by (this time). Please and thanks.”

JTE-“I’m sorry. I think that maybe you might have to help me (with something). I think maybe it’s (sometime). Can you come?”

Translation-“Hey, I need your help (with something). Come to (this place) at (this time).”

JTE– “I want students to do some more (practice work of some sort). Hmm, what do you think?”

Translation– “Agree with whatever I am saying. I don’t actually want your opinion.”

JTE– “I think that maybe your (thing) needs a little more work. I don’t know how students will like it. So….”

Translation– “I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but this idea is super dumb. NO!”

JTE– “Jessica, do you have a moment?”

Translation– “This is my only window of opportunity to talk to you. If you can’t talk to me now you won’t get to talk to me the whole rest of the day.”

JTE– “I was thinking about class tomorrow. Maybe a game would be best. I’m not sure. So…”

Translation-“Think of something to take up the whole class time. I don’t want to do a lesson! I’m sick of lessons! Give me a game, for the love of GOD!”

JTE– “Tomorrow the classes might be a little different.”

Translation– “Everything will be absolutely confusing tomorrow. Come in ready to deal with not knowing what’s going on. No, we won’t post the changes until tomorrow morning, and even then, those might change as the day goes on. Enjoy!”

If you notice a pattern, usually questions aren’t questions. They are orders masquerading as questions. It actually took me a good couple of months at the beginning to get the hang of it. At first I would take it to mean I had the option of not doing whatever it is my JTE was talking about, but that is simply not true. Whatever they’re “asking” for me to do, odds are I’m supposed to do (or supposed to have already done it, oops).

Sometimes I have more of a challenge, with teachers speaking a lot at once and I have to try and understand what exactly they want from me. It can get a little mind bending trying to figure out what’s important and what’s not.

For example:

JTE– “When we do class tomorrow, I want students to (do something). Maybe the lesson is kind of difficult. I think that they will be very, how do you say? [Take a moment to figure out the right word] Challenging! Yes. Maybe it’s a little bit challenging for them. So I think we must make it easier to understand. I’m not sure how to make it easier, but I want them to have fun and understand, too. I think a game is good, but we also need to do the lesson plan. My lesson plan is a little complicated, so it will take some time. So…How do you feel about it?”

Translation-“This lesson plan is going to be a pain to teach. I want you to help me make it fun. Game, song, anything is cool, but they’ve got to learn the grammar point at the same time. Give me ideas. Ready? Go!”

It can take a long time to figure things out, but I should say that it’s worth taking the time to do it. Communication with JTEs is integral to making a good lesson plan so students can actually learn. Forming a working relationship with JTEs makes teaching much easier. Even if it’s sometimes confusing, I know that I’m really lucky to have JTEs that not only speak English but are more than willing to talk to me in English. I’m quite blessed.

For example:

JTE- “Jessica, I think that you are doing a good job teaching. Thank you for your hard work! I hope we can teach English again after the summer break.”

Translation– “Yes, I was trying to make you cry. Love you!”

To the Person Who Stole My Underwear

I’d heard rumors that people like you existed. People told me to beware of your perversion, to never let my laundry stay alone for long.I always knew the risk was there, so I was vigilant. Yet, I am human, and I err. For forty five minutes I left my laundry alone. I was hungry so I went home to eat dinner, and you took your opportunity to fuck up my good day.


Last night, when you took all of my bras and underwear out of the top left dryer in the coin laundry, you probably assumed that I wouldn’t kick up a fuss. It’s just laundry, after all, what’s the big deal? Then, I suppose you needed a way to carry your ill begotten goods out of there, so you also took my light blue laundry basket, which also held my laundry detergent. Who would really get upset over some old laundry basket and soap? It’s not exactly the end of the world. Besides, most women don’t report such thefts, after all, since it’s a “harmless” crime. It’s embarrassing to report, it makes people uncomfortable, so why would your victim even bother to go through all the trouble?

Well, guess what? I’m American, bitch, and I’m not going to be your victim. I’M GOING TO BE YOUR DESTRUCTION.

Kicking up a shit storm for trivial reasons is America’s national pastime. I called up the Itako police and my Vice Principal. They took my report, and they even took down a list of all MY STUFF that you stole. Yes, it was absolutely one of the most humiliating moments of my life, but it’ll be worth it if they find you. They took pictures. They’re going to review the camera footage outside the coin laundry (which may or may not work, I’m honestly not sure).

Yes, it’s just laundry, but it’s MY LAUNDRY. Do you have any idea how hard it is for me to find bras in Japan?! In the end, I don’t. I wait until Christmas when I go home to buy them. You took my favorite one, dude! Why? You’ve got a thing for purple and bows? You sick bastard. I don’t know who you are, but I’ve imagined you in my head as a stereotypical old geezer with a lecherous smile sitting on hoards of other taken lacy garments.  Alternatively, I also picture you as a closeted transvestite who doesn’t want to risk exposure. As much as I might slightly sympathize with the latter, the underwear was MINE. The basket was…well, technically it was free from my predecessor, but then it was MY FREE BASKET. So fuck you.

The police took down my phone number and said they’ll be in touch. I’m not sure how serious they’ll actually take it, but I’m more than willing to hope someday soon I’ll get a phone call telling me they caught you (hopefully NOT wearing my stuff, ew). Rest assured that if all else fails, then you should know I’m not even done.

I do have a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired through college antics. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you return my underthings now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will…most likely report you to the police. Killing seems a tad excessive, but I can make sure you at least get some jail time for it. Justice shall prevail (maybe)!

You should be aware that Hinode is a really small part of town, so everybody and their mother already knows what happened. They’re more than upset about it, saying that you are one of the reasons Hinode gets a bad rep for theft. They are not pleased, and they like me more than you. We’re looking for you, sir, ALL OF US.

Good luck trying to take my laundry basket out into public, doucheschnozzle.

Mukade – the terrible Japanese centipede

The Japans

Before coming to Japan I had read about ‘mukade’: giant poisonous centipedes. They can grow to be up to 20cm long. They are hunters who eat cockroaches and other small animals. Here’s a close-up of a particularly handsome fellow that I found on the internet:

And for size reference, a picture I found on the internet of some brave/crazy person with a mukade on their hand:

Half horrified, half fascinated, I wondered if I would encounter any mukade during my stay in Japan. I seem to be in luck: 4 days into my stay here, I have spotted my first mukade.

We were in the supermarket with Yasuko-san, someone from the relocation office that helps us with all ‘settling in business’. As we are checking out a drying frame for clothing, I see something out of the corner of my eye. It’s a mukade.

I crie out a warning. Instantly…

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