Nihongo: A Five-Act Class








Act I

(About thirty people sitting in front of their professor, correcting a quiz.)

NihongoNoSensei: “Niku.” (Calls a name, marker in hand.) Douzo.

Gakusei1: (Writes.)

NihongoNoSensei: “Hajimemashite.” Laura San. Douzo.

AcostaSensei: (Writes.)

NihongoNoSensei: “Inu.” (Calls another name.)

AcostaSensei: (Wonders if the degree of difficulty was a mere coincidence.)

Act II

(Next day.)

NihongoNoSensei: (calls a name.)

Gakusei2: Hai.

NihongoNoSensei: (points at AcostaSensei) Kono kata wa donata desuka?

Gakusei2: (Looks at AcostaSensei) Wakarimasen.

NihongoNoSensei: (still pointing) Kono kata wa Laura San desu!

Gakusei2: Ah.

NihongoNoSensei: What do you say?

Gakusei2: Hajimemashite.

NihongoNoSensei: Laura San?

AcostaSensei: (Fumbling.) Hajimemashite. Douzo yoroshiku. (hopes this does not happen again.)


(A few minutes later.)

NihongoNoSensei: Ok, now open your book and read #4. (Reads a name from the list.)

(Nobody answers.)

NihongoNoSensei: (Reads another name.)


NihongoNoSensei: (Reads yet another name.)


NihongoNoSensei: (leaves the list on the desk and pretends he’s searching around the class.) Laura San! Yonde kudasai.

AcostaSensei: (Pretends to giggle and reads, hoping this is the last time.)

Act IV

(A few minutes later.)

NihongoNoSensei: Now we’re going to play a memory game. You name a word and its meaning, and the next person has to say that word and meaning plus one of their own. (Calls a name.)

Gakusei3: (Answers.)

NihongoNoSensei: (Calls another name.)

Gakusei4: (Answers.)

NihongoNoSensei: Laura San!

AcostaSensei: (Can’t believe it. It’s the third time.) Nande…? (Answers.)

Act V

(Next day.)

AcostaSensei: (Thinks three times in one class were enough.)

NihongoNoSensei: Now we’re going to read the dialogue between Satou San, Yamada San, and Mira– San. Mira– San must be Miller, but in Japanese he’s Mira–. (Calls a name.)

Gakusei5: (Reads very slowly.)

NihongoNoSensei: (Corrects a mistake.)

Gakusei5: (Stops.)

NihongoNoSensei: You didn’t finish.

Gakusei5: (Finishes.)

NihongoNoSensei: Ok. Laura San! Yonde kudasai.

AcostaSensei: (Reads, resigned to the fact that this will be her life for the next four months.)

The End.

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