It’s April, which means new recruits in companies across Japan. And as the new school year starts, new foreign English teachers all over Japan are settling into their positions in Japanese public schools, getting shocked out of their socks. The newbie English teacher social media chatter has begun! Statements riddled with sparks are starting to fly across Facebook: “Why does that Japanese teacher I teach with keep telling the students the answers? Is parroting English phrases really helpful? Rote memorization of English grammar is not learning!” Yada, yada, yada.
These teachers need a warm, dry, convenient place to go to get answers to these perennial questions. While the Japan Helpline website urges you to “Call 24 hours a day, from anywhere about anything, anytime from a simple question to emergency assistance,” I think they’d have a hard time answering some of the Emergency English questions teachers are likely to have.
Let’s say, for example, a bout of English Teacher Frustration (ETF) attacks you in the middle of the night. You’re so upset by the theory of rote memorization, you can’t sleep. What about critical thinking skills, you ask yourself. Don’t these people know the difference between studying foreign language skills versus acquiring them? Isn’t the mere act of rote memorization to pass exams mired in shades of verisimilitude? Or maybe you are tired of all the difficult questions about English grammar your Japanese colleagues ask you. Perhaps you need to know the Japanese word for “bugger off.” Or you’re suddenly receiving gifts for no apparent reason.
You can’t call the Japan Helpline for these things. So, who you gonna call? Goosuto Basutaazu! No, not really. I’ve come up with a better solution called the Japan Jalapeno Hotline to answer all your burning questions about ETF in Japan.
Once you’ve called, please hold the line as we transfer you to the appropriate automated tracking device. Please be aware that your call may be monitored to collect data for research on free-call breathing patterns.
Welcome to the Japan Jalapeno Hotline! Please choose from our Main Menu. For an appetizer of American English, please press 1. For a Tossed Salad of Australian, U.K. New Zealand, Canadian, Indian and all other Englishes including patois and Rastafarian Creole, press 2. For a Dollop of Japanese Language, press 3. For the main course of English Teaching, press 4. For General Side Orders of Japanese Culture, press 5. If you are good at using chopsticks, press 6.
Thank you for choosing Appetizer of American English. For the meaning of “ya’ll” press 1. For why Americans don’t pronounce their T’s in words like “little” and “water” press 2. For “kinda” and “sorta,” press 3, and “Ya know,” press 4. To return to the Main Menu, say “Banzai!”
Thank you for choosing a Tossed Salad of Australian, U.K. New Zealand, Canadian, Indian and all other Englishes, including patois and Rastafarian Creole. To order “brekkie,” press 1. If you’d like to meet me for lunch in Hyde Park, press 2. For a burger at the snowfields in New Zealand, press 3. If you don’t “get” Tim Hortons coffee, sorry, but press 4. If you want to feel “irie” with Jerk chicken in Jamaica mon, press 5. To return the Main Menu, say “Oishii!”
Thank you for choosing a Dollop of Japanese Language. To learn Japanese in five minutes a day, press 1. To learn the kanji without studying, press 2. To retrieve what you learned yesterday, press 3. To understand old man Japanese, press 4. For a dictionary of Japanese English, press 5. You should have learned Japanese by now in this dollop, so please return to the main menu by saying “Banzai!”
Thank you for choosing the Main Course of English Teaching. For information on how Assistant Language Teachers can successfully moonlight by stealth, press 1. For ideas on what to do with all your free time, press 2. For the answer to “Why is my apartment so cold?” Press 3. For questions about passé 60s participles and dangling modifiers from great heights, press 4. For ninja-influenced Japanese English press 5. To report a violation of the English language, press 6. To return to the main menu, say “Banzai!” Louder please.
Thank you for choosing General Side Orders of Japanese culture. For “Why did my neighbor just give me a gift?” press 1. “Will pretending not to speak Japanese help if I get pulled over by a cop?” press 2. “What the heck is that gesture?” press 3. To learn how to “borrow” umbrellas and bicycles, press 4. You’ve reached your limit of General Side Orders of Japanese Culture. Additional bites can be purchased. To return to the Main Menu, say your credit card number. A sushi chef will be with you shortly.
Thank you for choosing “If you are good at using chopsticks.” If your Japanese is jozu (good), press 1. If your nose is “tall” press 2. If your face is small, press 3. If you are more Japanese than the Japanese, press 4. To return to the main menu, say “Gochisosamadeshita!” (Thank you for the good meal).
If instead, you wish to speak to a real, live customer service person, we offer the following options: To talk to someone who has studied English for 10 years and still can’t speak fluently, press 1. To speak with a native English speaker in India, press 2. To speak with a hip, Japanese college student who can’t speak English but sings in English pretty well, press 3. All others return to the main menu by saying “Banzai!”
Thank you for pressing lots of numbers to get answers to your questions. Our automated tracking device works like that game of 20 questions, or 20Q. By continuing to narrow down your questions, we can eventually get the correct answer. The computer will now process your information. Please hold.
(Enka music blasts out of the telephone receiver.)
Please continue holding. Your call is mildly important to us.
(J-Pop music blasts out of the telephone receiver.)
Thank you for waiting. We have processed your information and have come up with the following answers: For “Yes,” press 1. For “No,” press 2. For the answer “Beats me!” press 3.
Thank you for calling the Japan Jalapeno Hotline. We hope we have answered your burning questions about Japan. If not, return to the Main Menu by saying, “Banzai!”