Today was the first day back in classes for me and around one hundred Junior High School students. After the standard opening ceremonies, where we all stood around listening to unending speeches in the freezing cold gym, it was back to work as usual. This term is very short -- something like 10 weeks until the end of the school year.
It was a good day -- we did the standard "What I did on my fuyu yasumi (winter vacation)" exercise. I brought pictures of my trip to Malaysia, the students practiced using the past tense. Some more than others. It was interesting to see the difference a year makes. The ni-nen sei's (Grade 8) wrote about going shopping with their families, going skiing, playing baseball and so on, while half the san-nen sei (Grade 9) class wrote about going to juku (cram school) and studying for seven hours a day. Ninth-graders write high school entrance exams soon -- the exams that determine what these kids will and will not be able to do with the rest of their lives.
I also corrected some papers. Grade 8 homework assignment: Write an advertisement for an exciting new product that is guaranteed to improve your life!
"At last a perfect pen has come out. You can use it as a pen, but you can use it as a gun, too. You can assassinate the President.