The Reluctant Sensei


On Fridays I have a Japanese class. It is basically free, handled by volunteers. It is set up kind of different. It is mostly a one on one class with a sensei and a student. The session is tailored for the needs of the student. 
There is a woman from Bulgaria, One from Korea, one from China and me. For each of us there is a Sensei. Everyone, EVERYONE speaks what seems fluent Japanese to me. All the conversations are in Japanese! I miss most of it, I catch enough sometime from piecing together things what is going on. Sometimes I have NO idea! Later I am told or I figure it out, or just miss that part. These are the group talks I am referring to. From time to time there is tea and cakes and just chatting, no real lesson for me. I do feel lost sometimes.
Everyone there is nice, and a few speak some English. The Chinese woman is recent although everyone seems to know her. So she must have been there before my time. She knows I speak a little Chinese. It was kind of funny as little as my Chinese is, the other day she was saying something in Japanese some word for flower, that I did not get. She said it in Mandarin and I got it. When she first came back to class we were discussing some Basic Chinese terms to the group and I kind of helped explain them Japanese to English comparisons. As I said some of them can speak some basic English.
The Chinese woman asked if I could help her with English. The Bulgarian woman , who speak French, Japanese, and Bulgarian heard and also wanted help with English. Oh boy I am thinking. I say, since one of the Sensei here is a school teacher of English would it not be better for her to help you as does the Korean woman since they both speak Japanese! You are a native speaker is the response. 😦
This past Friday class there is a big discussion over tea and truffles brought back from France by the Bulgarian woman, about me teaching/ helping everyone there with English. I did not understand most of the discussion. I repeated my thoughts on my limited Japanese skill to help with teaching English would be difficult. Again the response was you are a native speaker, you can help with correct pronunciation. Now things got a bit complex, because the Chinese woman needed one thing from the English help the others wanted something else. 
As I am there getting free lessons, I felt some responsibility to help and I like them all. It was worked out that one Friday a month I run an English group session for everyone interested, which was all except for one woman. for the Chinese woman I will come in one hour earlier to help her. I am unsure of that is to be every Friday or just that one Friday. I will need to find out. Either way it is kind of payback and I guess in a round about way it will help me with Japanese, I think. Maybe even some Chinese improvement. Which I do not really need now a days being in Japan and all.
Anyway so after being here over a year and one of the few foreigners not teaching English, reluctantly I am an English teacher…sort of.

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