Sunday, April 24, 2016

Why are you laughing?

Naze waratte iru no?

Year of Requirement Part 7

There were tests pretty much every last Sunday every month. These tests weren’t for school. The (almost) monthly Sunday tests were practice tests for high school entrance exams. More than half the 3rd year junior high school students in Pumpkin Prefecture took the tests, so you could look at how well you did and have a pretty good idea of your chances of getting into your target school.

The first test was supposed to cover material from the first half of the first year of junior high. The Sunday before this exam, I walked to the bookstore (it was around the corner from my house), found the thinnest “Cliffs Notes”-esque books for junior high school history and geography, and crammed the first half of each book into my brain. I did the same for science. I was already pretty good at math (I was a year ahead in an honors class in my high school in Suburbia), and English would be a breeze. I knew I didn’t stand a chance of doing anything effective for Japanese in a week, so I left it alone.

The plan worked, because my score for Social Studies was slightly better than average. According to April’s test, I could go to an average-level high school in a different part of town, which wasn’t bad for someone who should have been functionally illiterate in Japanese. Still, this wasn’t good enough to get into the college prep high school I wanted.

One problem was that I was wasting three hours a week in school studying something I probably, no, definitely understood better than anyone else in the building; English. A bit of wrangling and discussing, and I got out of two of those classes, with permission to study social studies and science in the library. I took a liberal interpretation of this and spent some of the time reading the books in the library about historical figures and events. On Friday, I had to attend English classes.

The first time I got called on to read the textbook out loud, everyone laughed. Almost three decades later, I am still trying to wrap my brain around why.

1 comment:

Annie Crow said...

Probably just unfamiliarity at how you sounded. Never mind that you were speaking English "correctly", you would have been speaking it with an unfamiliar accent to them. So, funny. And maybe also a little nervous laughter at how large the gap between what they were used to hearing and speaking and how it sounds from a native speaker? Just some thoughts.