Last Updated: 18/10/05

 

Some of the best laughs I had in Japan were, I'm afraid, at the expense of my students and their attempts at English.  So I thought I'd share a few of these little gems with you here...enjoy! 

 

I've also added a few comments made to me by teachers.  To protect the (not-quite-so) innocent, I've omitted the names of those involved.  However, the statements made me laugh so much, that I've just had to include them here.  (I've left comments by my teachers in black text.)

 

 

WISDOM

BACKGROUND

"My sister has become a [theater]"

 

Written in a start of term English exam.  The students were give three words to choose from to complete the sentence.  You'd be surprised how many got it wrong. 

Correct answer: doctor

 

"The baby is [sheep]"

 

As above.  This was the most popular answer.

Correct answer: asleep

 

"The station is always [nose]"

 

Written in a start of term English exam.  The students were provided with a sentence in Japanese, with the translation in English with one word omitted.  They were given the first letter of the missing word.

Correct answer: noisy

 

"He sent me a post [country] from America"

 

As above.

Correct answer: card (although this one has so many more political connotations...)

 

"She kept [sam] for hours"

"Bring me [sam] to eat"

 

As above.  These answers were written on the same paper.  I feel sorry for Sam...

Correct answers: silent, something

 

"I was [brown] in 1970"

 

As above.

Correct answer: born

 

"You must [bring] your teeth everyday"

 

As above.

This is one of my favourites.

Correct answer: brush

 

"I go to school by birk"

 

Written in a start of term English exam as part of an "essay" (or rather series of sentences, or in the case of many - one sentence) about what the students did over the summer. 

 

"Summer is love.  Because, go to sie"

 

As above.

 

"I play the homework"

 

As above.

 

"I'm very interested to fishing"

 

As above.

 

"I think summer is watermelon"

 

As above. 

Also one of my favourites.

 

"When I was little I wanted to be grown up because I wanted use money.  Now I want to grown down because I don't have to study."

 

Written in response to my first set of proper lessons.  The questions were "When you were little what were your dreams for the future, and why?"  and "Now you are older, what do you want to do, and why?".  The kids then had to interview each other and record the responses, so they could introduce their friends to the whole class.  I got some very profound responses. 

 

"When he was little he wanted to be a sniper because he liked human killer."

 

As above.

 

"I wanted to be Masked Rider because Masked Rider is very very great and cool."

 

As above.

 

"I wanted to be pilot to see the very big sky"

 

As above.

 

"When I was little I wanted to be Frentsmen, because Frentmen is very cool.  Now I want to be inn manager because I like onsen"

 

As above.  On questioning the student, it became evident he meant 'Frenchman".  An onsen is a public Japanese bath, which one must be naked to use.  They are very popular in Japan.

 

"Now I want to be girl trainer because I'm interested in woman"

 

As above.

 

"I wanted to be a wizard because I'm a romancer and like to witchcraft"

 

As above.

 

"When I was little I wanted to be Peter Pan because I won't be a man.  Now I want to be Peter Pan because I can fly"

 

As above.

 

"When I was little I wanted to be an dog because free"

 

As above.

 

"When he was little he wanted to be donkey"

 

As above.

 

"When I was little I wanted to be bakery because I like singer.  Now I want to be doctor because I like priest."

 

As above.

I have my suspicions the student didn't understand the task, and was randomly picking words out of the vocabulary provided.

Alternatively, he was being sarcastic...

 

"When I was little I wanted to be hero because I am strong.  Now I want to be professional athlete because I want to be rich."

 

As above.

 

"When I was little I wanted to be a carpenter because I like to use my body."

 

As above. 

This was written by one of the better (if not best) third-grade students, who is actually very good at English.  On seeing me drop into a giggling heap on the floor, he realised what he'd written.  It was doubly funny since he actually wants to become a catholic priest after graduation! 

 

"I wanted to be a jockey because I liked jockey.  Now I want to be a priest because I like priest."

 

As above.

Well, you've got to admire his reasoning...

 

"I wanted to be PRIDE because PRIDE is kick and punch and submission.  It is violence."

 

As above.

Now, this is a weird one.  Any ideas about what he was trying to say?

 

"I wanted to be doctor because I like white."

 

As above.

Again, good reasoning (!).

 

"I wanted to be radio personality because I like toolking."

 

As above.

 

"I wanted to be soccer player because I like soccer very much.  Now I want to be beautician because I think it is cool."

 

As above.

This was written by a particularly "cool", "macho" student, who I suspect was attempting some degree of sarcasm...

 

"I wanted to be a adolt because I thoght adolts have freedom.  Now I want to be child because I think children have freedom."

 

As above.

Ignoring the bad spelling and grammar, I like this one!

 

"I wanted to be a baseball player because I like baseball.  Now I want to be a dog because I like dog."

 

As above.

 

"I wanted to be a baseball."

 

As above.

Actually written by several students, independently.

 

 

"I am Celine Dion.  I like music berry much.  My heart will go on.  Thank you."

 

At the start of the lesson, all the students were asked to stand up and give their names and one sentence about themselves - what they like or what hobbies they do.  Out of all the students, this was the only funny response.

 

"I play sex"

 

Exclaimed by a student on being asked what he did last weekend.

 

"Your face...looks like....France"

 

Said, very sincerely, to me by one of my (male) teachers at a rather drunken Enkai (party).  He seemed rather upset when I laughed at him.

 

"I have a pension"

 

Said by another of the (male) teachers (at the same Enkai as above), while unzipping his flies and pointing to his...um...well...'pension'....

 

"I have a pencil"

 

Said by the same teacher as above, on being told that it wasn't called a 'pension'.

 

"This is tatami ant froving room"

 

Written by a group of students planning a documentary video to introduce the Martial Arts Gym.  In case you hadn't worked it out, they were trying to say "tatami mat flooring room".

 

"They have lovelove"

 

I like this one.  It means "They are in love" and was written by a student about Tom and I (yes, I am the focus of their video...oh dear!).

 

"Her charmpoint is green eyeshadow"

 

Written by one of the groups (a pair of girls) about one of their female teachers, who is to be the focus of their video.  I actually spent a while wondering if "charmpoint" was a real word.  I think it should be!

 

"His hobby is walking and yoghurt"

 

Written by one of the groups about a teacher to be the focus of their documentary video.  The students did notice what they'd written when I started laughing, and saw the funny side of it, too.

 

"She is nice earnest teacher.  She is good at sleeping same where"

 

Again, written by a group describing a teacher for their video.  Interesting what you learn about your co-workers from the students...!

 


"Let's move the body in the gym"

 

Final sentence written by a group basing their video around the gym. 

 


"In this school, making a thing is tackling activity of practice,subject research,and the Cultural affairs Department by making cultivation of men's ability into a motto.  I advertize this result to an area and think that aiming at an international improvement in image leads to activation of this school aimed at an open school and the school for which an area is asked"

A paragraph submitted to the Head of English at my school by one of our colleagues.  It's an abstract about a lecture he's to give at the university.  I think he used an online translation package.


"Our school motto is "making things for making person".  We are trying hard (tackling?) on this motto industrial practices, subject research, cultural affairs club activities.  We are also trying to advertize those results to the local area to make our school open and acceptable for the local people in giving them good image of our school.  We believe that it leads to activation of our school."

The paragraph after the Head of English had "corrected" it.


"Our school motto is 'practical design creates active minds'.  Our ambition is to exercise our motto through such practices as engineering development, subject research and Cultural Affairs Club activities.  We aim to promote this in the community by making our school open and available to local people, presenting the good image of our institution.  Through this we not only improve ourselves, but offer a school which the community as a whole may benefit from and be proud of."

 

 

 

And just so you know what it's supposed to say...this is my translation (the reports/projects/thesis I wrote for the degree came in useful!).  Thanks to Tom for helping with the motto!

 

 

 

 

"I want to trip New Years Day
This winter vacation is free
Because everyday club
I want to look snow"

 

Written in the "free composition" section of an exam at the start of the Spring term.  The question was along the lines of "What did you do over the winter vacation?".

Please note that all of the following are the students "essays" in their entirety.  These are NOT excerpts.  These are the complete answers!

 

"I hope is Happy New Year
I hop is good life"

 

As above.

 

"Winter vacation is clab only. I tared. Happy new Years.  I eat mochi."

 

As above.

 

"I had a strange dream winter holy day.
That's a very bad dream.
It's my kill dream.
I dereat my right and left hand."

 

 

As above.

Don't you just wish you could understand what the dream was about?  Sounds interesting!

 

 

"I was wothing TV.
I like Takashi Okamura.
Becous he is populr.
I love Takashi Okamura.
I am Takashi Okamura."

 

 

 

As above.

 

 

 

"Rice cake is very soft
I ate a lot of rice cake.
I like rice cake.
It is very nice taste.
Rice cake made me happy."

 

 

 

As above. 

Ode to mochi. Can't say I agree!

 

 

 

"I haved mochi.  very happy. I want to the shoop.  I engiyed to x'mas."

 

As above.

 

"A Happy new Year.
A Happy mare x'mas."

 

As above.

 

"I was pastman."

 

As above.

 

"I try part time in winter vacation. Part time is post office.  My job was hand out mails.  I used dig bag and bike then.  This job was very hard.  but.  I enjoyed this job."

 

As above.

 

"I beat my head against the wall.  I hurt my leg when I fell."

 

As above.


Just to explain - both of these sentences were provided in other questions on the exam paper!

 

"I get to money.  I played soccer with my friend on prak."

 

As above.

But what is prak?  Is it a new type of Class A drug I've not heard of?!

 

"I like snow becosu snow is very cold and white.  Snow is very dericious.  Winter vaceisyon is now snow.  I'm crade."

 

As above.

 

"I colded my house."

 

As above.

 

"I play ski.  I like ski.  I want to be ski player.  I watching tv every day.  I very happy."

 

As above.

 

"I watched a good soccer march winter holiday.  They are nice soccer player."

 

As above.

 

"I played sleep...I waeked in roed."

 

As above.

 

"Becouse I like snow, I can ski.  I was happy days.  I was very good days."

 

As above.

 

"Winter on my house is cold.  My famiry is hot."

 

As above.

 

"I like guitar very much.  So music love.  I have go to 'Matsukiya'. This is music shop.  I have Arubaito.  Because no many.  Welcome to ENEOS."

 

As above.

 

Explanation: "Arubaito" is Japanese for "part time job" and ENEOS are petrol stations, like Shell.  

 

"I play music.  
Because of you."

 

As above.

 

This is one of my favourites ;)

 

"I went to sky this winter.  Because I didn't clobe.  I was very cold.  Sky was very well."

 

As above.

 

"I not like winter.  Because it's play baskeball is very cold.  but I like ski and kotatu."

 

As above.

Explanation: a kotatsu (kotatu) is a table which is heated on its underside so you can warm your legs.

 

"My holy day is lot of soccer.  It is very tired.  Most of I eat and sleep in winter.  But I have bad news.  My father's brother is dei.  So I most go to Sousiki in Aomori."

 

 

As above.

 

 

"The winter work is very hard.  because.  wroted sience text book twenteen."

 

As above.

 

"My winter baketion is basketball and basket ball and basketball."

 

As above.

 

"I'm sleeped.  I'm watched TV.  It is cold in winter.  Few people know it.  I'm enjoyed winter."

 

As above.

 

"I enjoyed girlfriend together Christmas.  I like not winter.  Because it is cold."

 

As above.

 

"Keep on going and your dream comes true."

 

As above.

 

"Winter vacaltion is very enjoy."

 

As above.

 

"It is cold on winter.  This is snow."

 

As above.

 

"Winter is very cold to year.  feel snow of sky."

 

As above.

 

"A snow season has come
My cousins play ski
A snow season has come
Winter come to us
it is cold winter
New Year is here"

 

 

As above.

This was written out like a poem, and almost reads like one too.  A possible idea for a future lesson plan...?

 

 

 

"I was living in ski"

 

As above.

 

"I look a rain
I look a moon
I'm going to the Kyoto"

 

As above.

Another poem?

 

"I hope become winter bacation long time"

 

As above.

 

"I went to shopping by car.  And I buy a bag.  The bag is I want to bag.  I get bag.  I'm happy."

 

 

As above.

 

 

"I did the usual things in the usual way in winter.  I made a million in a day.  I like Otosidama.  I buy a watch at Otosidama.  I'm happy.  But, I had my watch stolen.  It's cragy. 'Cragy new year.'"

 

As above.

This also contains some sentences provided on the exam paper!  Oh...and I think 'cragy' means 'crazy'.

 

"I'm watted move"

 

As above.

I gather this means  "I watched a movie".

 

"I play sky I like sky.  I brake is left arm.  But I play because I'm fight!!"

 

As above.

 

"Winter vacation is very cold.  Money got."

 

As above.

 

"I was everyday sleeped in the bed."

 

As above.

 

"I visited groundfather house.  I eat mothi and osethi.  And give me money is father because it is day syogatsu, so syogatsu very good day.  I like syogatsu very much.  I sink man, girl like syogatsu too."

 

As above.

Explanaition: mochi (mothi) - rice cake.  Shyogatsu (syogatsu) - new year

 

"I was winter eat omochi.
I was winter eat egg.
I was winter eat banana.
Youth comes but once"

 

 

As above.

Very poetic again!

 

 

"I was long kill time"

 

As above.

 

"I went to America.  I speak English.  So very usually.  I broken my left arm.  I went to doctor in America.  I enjoyed America."

 

As above.

 

Makes you wonder what he was doing when he broke his arm...!

 

"I [wlaght] to him"

 

Written in an exam at the start of the spring term.  The students were provided with the sentence in Japanese, and most of the translation in English.  They had to write the missing word in English.

 

Correct answer: write

 

"Did she [joint] your team"

 

As above.

 

Correct answer: join

 

"He is a nice [succer] player"

 

As above.

 

Correct answer: soccer

 

 

"Nothing is more important than [pees]"

 

 

As above.

 

Correct answer: peace 

 

 

"It is sunnying"

 


A practice for the first-graders' midterm - write as many ~ing sentences about a given picture.

 

"The wonman watching mappy"

 

 

As above.

 

The woman is looking at the map

 

 

"Greel is borinking"

 

 

As above.

 

The girl is drinking

 

 

"Sun is frashing"

 

As above.

 

"The sun is lightingtting"

 

As above.

 

"He is happening nothing money"

 

 

As above.

 

He is looking for his money/wallet

 

 

"She is drinking the girl"

 

As above.

 

"bassdall"

"beaseball"

"bersdall"

"bersball"

"bassboll"

"baceball"

"baasball"

"beasball"

"barsboll"

"brssboll"

"beasboll"

"beseball"

"basebool"

"berasball"

"bethball"

"beathball"

"baskeball"

"becedall"

"besuball"

"bees bool"

"baitbooll"


Attempts by my first grade students to spell "baseball"


"gurls"

"gorl"

"garl"

"gile"

"gril"

Attempts by my first grade students to spell "girl" or "girls"

"He is washing the grass"


One of the questions on the first year mid-term English exam was to write as many sentences as possible about a given picture.   Can you get a good idea of what the picture was of?


"The furman is teaching a egg"


As above.

Incidentally, I think "furman" is an attempt at "woman"

 

"The woled is snow"

 

As above.


"Teach is haveing to egg"

 

As above.


"She is making cook"

As above.


"She is how to making cook egg"

As above.

 

"They are cokking a food"

 

As above.

 

"Snowman see in the room"

 

As above.

 

"That is snowing snowman"

 

As above.


"This picture is want to Nagano for child"

As above.


"Snow is downing at out.  There is a snowman at out"

As above.


"She is teaching egg the how to cook it gile"

As above.


"She is cutting board"


As above.

 

Again, a scary number of students wrote this.  The girl was actually using a cutting board.


"She is teaching egg to cook"

As above.


"It is raining snow"

As above.


"Egg is many"

 

As above.


"They are using vegetable on the cook"

As above.

 

"She is teaching egg"

 

 

As above.

 

Rather worryingly, many (if not most) of the students wrote this.

 

"Snowman is putting on the snow"

As above.

 

"She is having egg"

 

As above.

 

"Snow window is snowman"

 

As above.

 

"She is teaching egg how to cook.  They are reading egg how to cook"

 

As above.

 

"Snowman is teaching how to cook"

 

As above.

 

"Out of window on the snowman.  Out of window on the tree"

 

As above.

 

"She is teaching a two her"

 

 

As above.

 

She is teaching two girls

 

 

"A snowman is billding on sow"

 

As above.

 

"She is now to cooking,  He is washing. She is vegetabling"

 

As above.

 

"She is snowing"

 

As above.

 

"Snowman is in the outside"

 

As above.

 

"That snowman is putting"

 

As above.

 

"She eggs reed"

 

As above.

 

"She how to scool life"

 

As above.

 

"She is having a egg"

 

As above.

 

"She is bot snow"

 

As above.

 

"They are listening egg cook"

 

As above.

 

"Outside a snow world.  There is out on the snowman"

 

As above.

 

"It is snowrying"

 

As above.

 

"Thecher is speking egg"

 

As above.

 

"The girls are listening how to use eggs with woman"

 

As above.

"He darsday 1989 eyar 5th towenttiy"


In another question, given to the second graders, students were provided with a table in Japanese giving information about the fictional character "Yamada Hideki".  The students were asked to write as much as the could in English about Hideki.  

His birthday is the 20th May, 1989


"He beathday is May of 20th"

As above.

 

"He is birthday with 20 for the May"

 

As above.


"He is going to at school by blik"

 

 

As above.

 

He goes to school by bike

 

"She come to school is by bick"

 

 

As above

 

Hideki is male...

 

 

"He goes to school by baik"

 

As above.


"He go to bike a school"

As above.

 

"He like wacting baseball"

 

As above.

 

"He like spout is baitbooll and badminton"

 

 

As above.

 

The sports he likes are baseball and badminton

 

 

"He lik spork is badminton"

 

As above.

 

"His frmory is frder and moder and brader and siceter"

 

 

As above.

 

His family is his father, mother, brother and sister

 

"His name is Chiro.  He is dog.  He is twelve years old.  His job is sleep.  He likes take a wolk.  He doesn't likes water.  His hobbies is eating leaf."

 

I asked the second grade writing class to write an essay about their friends/family.  This one was, in my opinion, the best...! 

 

 

 

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