The presentation that I did Saturday on vocabulary development went pretty well. I was pleased with my presentation. I was a disappointed with the turnout. My guess is that lots of people saw the gaijin name and decided not to attend, because they assumed that I would be speaking in English, or that it would be some kind of “conversation” class with fun games or something. I don’t know.
This is the double bind, isn’t it? People want the Western face. They want the “native speaker” advantage, what ever that is, and my guess is that it would come down to something like pronunciation. “We want to listen to a native speaker say it.” But at the same time, they don’t expect it to speak Japanese, and they don’t expect it to know what learners really need. They don’t expect the tall, blond, man (the usual expectation) to know what students have to know to get into universities. They assume English knowledge to be something different from test knowledge. That may be, but that is another double bind.
Do I sound like I have issues with this mentality? Yes, because I worked for hours preparing this thing, and the audience was small. 90 people they were telling me. Maybe there were 90 people in the whole building. Maybe that is what they were telling me. Maybe the guy speaking on robots got 90 people. Robots are useful. Yeah, for target practice in a Will Smith flick.