“When you’re putting the flash cards away, make sure they’re going in the right pile,” I said in my best Japanese. “Sometimes they get mixed up because we have multiples.”
“Understood,” the new staff member said, using the polite form, or keigo. “Should I do anything else after that?”
“No that’s it. Thanks for your help.”
“Not at all, thanks for explaining it in Japanese. I’m not confident in my English yet.”
“You can do it,” I said encouragingly as we walked into the teacher’s room.
As we did, a fellow English teacher turned around, smiling brightly in relief. “Stef, there you are! I have a question for you!” she said in English.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“How do you say ‘across’ in Japanese?”
I froze. “Uhh.” Error 401. Data not found.
I had to resort to a certain translation website that many people use to get the answer.
When you start a language, you do so with what’s considered “practical, survival” points. The cat is under the desk. This is a pen. My name is Tod. Whatever. But as you move up in ability, a lot of that falls by the wayside.
“Okay I don’t remember how to say ‘please pull over before the traffic light’ so I’ll say ‘pull over here’ at the right time.”
“I don’t have a clue how to say ‘owl’ but I can say it’s a bird who flies at night and makes hoot-hoot noises.”
“Across? Why not just describe the building you’re talking about instead?”
In short, Stefanie needs to review the basics. Good thing I still have all those old textbooks lying around collecting dust.
I’ll start tomorrow.