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Thread: Unavoidable JTE mistakes

  1. #1

    Default Unavoidable JTE mistakes

    So I most help in English communication classes which is ran by one teacher. She's about my age (so young) and a very new teacher.

    In English comm, the kids are doing speech contest speeches. The first years have the topic of 'show and tell'. My JTE had them write their speeches in Japanese first. Problem number one.. because they literally were unable to translate them with their high Japanese ability and low English ability. So instead of having them write simple speeches in English, what does my JTE do? Translate them herself. And what does she do while translating them? Translate half of them in a way that they are literally undecipherable in English.

    So she's already handed them back to the students and in class she has me walk around and help them comprehend the translation/help with pronunciation.... which is incredibly hard to do when they're pointing at English gibberish that I can't even understand or a word misspelled so bad that I don't know what it's even supposed to be. So in these situations, I go to my JTE and we work out together what the student was originally trying to say in Japanese, which turns into a new translation... she then writes down my new translation on their sheet in a paraphrased way that often STILL does not make any sense or isn't even close to what I've literally just said.

    Example: kid asks for comprehension of the the JTE's translation that says 'My erase is easy to put out'. What the hell does that even mean, I ask myself. Consult with the JTE, and we come to the conclusion that he's trying to say 'The eraser is easy to take off of my pencil'. However, in what was likely an effort to keep her ego in tact, she tells me that changing it to this sentence changes the meaning. So she has me change it to 'The eraser is easy to take off a little bit'... which still doesn't sound like her original translation, but I can tell she's getting frustrated, so okay whatever, at least it makes more sense than the original.

    She also has so many spelling errors that change the whole meaning of the sentence... i.e., 'scene' instead of 'scent' in reference to perfume. 'Wage' instead of 'wag'... the list is truly endless.

    I'm just at a total loss at this point... sometimes she comes over to my desk and asks for sentence interpretation advice, but she usually writes what I say, again, in very paraphrased ways that still don't make the sentence correct.

    I've tried offering to type out translations for her so I can like discreetly correct them or something... but so far, no go.

    Basically, it's at a point where I think she's embarrassed to admit when her English is incorrect and the kids are suffering because of it. I wish this were easier to let go, but when the kids are pointing at her mistakes and asking me 'What does this mean?' 'How do I pronounce it?'... I can't really ignore it.

    I don't know how I can even begin to fix this or if I even can... but I'm in a super awkward position right now, so any advice would be much appreciated.

  2. #2
    Senior Member mothy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unavoidable JTE mistakes

    What level are you teaching (SHS, JHS, elementary), and is this your first year?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Unavoidable JTE mistakes

    JHS and yep haha.

  4. #4
    Senior Member mothy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unavoidable JTE mistakes

    Hm. JHS kids really can't do much. Sounds like the teacher is messing up, having them use english well above their level. The tough thing is you've been dropped in in the middle of the school year, so certain goals and how they're going to achieve them have already been decided. Have you had a talk with that teacher about goals? What are the kids trying to learn through these speech writing activities?
    Can you contact your pred? What did he/she do in that class?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Unavoidable JTE mistakes

    Well, it's a new project that they only started after summer vacation actually. So as soon as I started teaching is when they started the project. I did demos and stuff for them, so I understand the format and what she wants out of the speeches themselves. For the second and third years it's not so bad, because they're actually translating the sentences themselves and it's working out fine in those classes for the most part. Sometimes she'll do the same thing where she'll ask me for a translated sentence and takes the liberty to change what I said into something that's incorrect again.

    I do know that her original plan was to have the first years translate as well, but when she realized they couldn't, I think she panicked and thought she needed to translate them herself. That's why the English ended up being above their level... and also making literally no sense since, she honestly pops the stuff she doesn't comprehend into Google translate and that's why words/sentences end up sounding weird... it sucks because the prompt is so easy. They literally could have said 'This is my bat. My dad gave it to me. I like to play baseball with it. It is a good bat'. That's at their level of understanding up to this point. Instead her translations turn into 'This bat is very special to me. My dad gave it to me as a present for my graduation. When I play baseball with this bat, it hits balls very far. From now on (all the korekaramo's in the world from these kids...), I will cherish this bat.' Except imagine that with a bunch of spelling/grammar errors... the kids just end up asking me for pronunciation and write it in katakana, with no actual comprehension of what they're saying.

    My pred didn't work with her very often, since she's so new.

    Maybe if I bring up the 'goals' thing, it'll make her thing about what's going on? Because at this point, her only goal is to choose one kid from each class to compete in the speech contest, as far as I know.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Unavoidable JTE mistakes

    She's probably trying to flex her English muscles since she's new, which equates to busting out the flowery language. Come to think of it she may have individually translated them all to flex her hardworking muscles too. I'd tread softly if you want to make a positive change, it sounds like she probably knows she messed up and is on the defensive.

    Just try not to make her cry like I did for mine!

  7. #7
    The Sun's Bird God..what? Zolrak 22's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unavoidable JTE mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by Jiggit View Post
    Just try not to make her cry like I did for mine!
    You lady killer, you.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Unavoidable JTE mistakes

    I am very surprised that she as a language learner hasn't recognized by now that unless you're at a very high level it isn't constructive to write something in your natural language and then try to translate. Did she review with them everything they learned 1st/2nd semester yet? For me I know it'd be really helpful to think of it in terms of "Here is a list of things you are able to express. Now use what you like to talk about xyz". The point is to get them comfortable and more confident, not bewilder them when they've only dipped their toes.

    I think this is a good direction she's trying to go, but it definitely needs execution points. My JTEs lament that it's just a grammar slam all year for test prep.
    Hopefully she will trust you and take you up on your offers sometime. Maybe you can mention to her that you noticed the students feeling very uneasy about the translations?

    I don't have the wisdom to offer any great advice and I'm on two beers, but I'm sending hugs and unicorn thoughts your way.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Unavoidable JTE mistakes

    It's just hard because at this point she's already handed them all the translations... I feel like implying that they need to redo them from scratch would be a huge blow to her ego, even if it's the truth.

    She's also not very confident about her English and literally never speaks English with them in class - I feel like in a way she's projecting her fears onto them by giving them the "easy" way out. And yeah sourdough, you're right... translating does nothing. The 2nd and 3rd years are doing better because they have more of a grasp on their level, but still sometimes translate stuff really weirdly, which is inevitable when you're using a dictionary. It still would have been much more beneficial to have them do the speeches from scratch in English at their true level.

    Our BOE is super invested in English education and send us surveys about our experience every month... I'm wondering if this is something I should bring up...? I've talked to the director of one of the education divisions who's an elementary school and she specifically told me that it's crucial to get them to write this stuff in English... and this JTE is doing the opposite. Like honestly, someone needs to talk to her about this type of curriculum because it's really not helping anyone and embarrassing for me AND her....

    I'm also thinking of asking her if I can have like one on one meetings with the students during class as they're working on their speeches. We've been having them meet with me in pairs for 'conversation time' and she's loving that, so maybe I can sell her on this idea... because until November, half of class is just them working on the speeches... maybe during that time, I can under the radar correct the mistranslations she gave them... I agree with you guys, I think she knows she fucked up and doesn't want the kids to know, so maybe that would be a good way of fixing the issue and her still saving face...?
    Last edited by weepinbell; September 16th, 2015 at 21:37.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Unavoidable JTE mistakes

    Also, jiggit how did you handle your situation? Was it similar to this one? Maybe I'll try to be more delicate, but I know that something really needs to be said. These kids are gonna go up for their speeches, make zero sense and everyone's gonna go... 'what the hell? Don't they have a native English speaker?' UGH.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Unavoidable JTE mistakes

    You're overthinking this and overestimating your overall influence.

    If you bring this up in any way that brings any kind of negative attention on her, she will make you pay. If she's new, she has a metric f'ckton of things on her plate right now. Ijime is a bitch, and you ain't the senpai.

    Perhaps your boe is truly invested in English education. Perhaps they only pay it lip service. Either way, it won't reflect on you in any meaningful way.

    Salvage what you can in class, offer suggestions when you can, and move on.
    Last edited by uthinkimlost?; September 16th, 2015 at 23:14.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jiggit View Post
    But what if we reverse the polarity of the quantum string theory? According to uncertainty principle there are infinite worlds out there, so it stands to reason schrodinger's cat is alive in one of them.


    Quote Originally Posted by Apollo87;
    U da real mvp.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Unavoidable JTE mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by uthinkimlost? View Post
    You're overthinking this and overestimating your overall influence.

    If if you bring this up in any way that brings any kind of negative attention on her, she will make you pay. If she's new, she has a metric f'ckton of things on her plate right now. Ijime is a bitch, and you ain't the senpai.

    Perhaps your boe is truly invested in English education. Perhaps they only pay it lip service. Either way, it won't reflect on you in any meaningful way.

    Salvage what you can in class, offer suggestions when you can, and move on.
    That's seriously fine, but since these are legitimately the only classes I'm helping in right now, I really can't take the lie down and take it route. I can't ignore the mistakes and go "Oh yeah, that's completely fine" when a student asks me a comprehension question about a botched translation. Am I supposed to say 'Oh yeah, you're good', when I don't even know what it's supposed to mean? I can accept if I have to do tape recorder work and other mundane stuff, but I honestly am not going to sit there and pretend everything is okay when students are confused BECAUSE of the teacher's translations and lie to them when they ask me questions about it. If I were in a situation where I could be passive, I would be, but when the same JTE is instructing me to help the students understand her translations and then proceeds to hinder me from doing so, it makes things a little more complicated.

    My city invested in 10+ new ALTs so that they could have one ALT per school. They're putting a shit ton of money in us, so they basically wanna know that we're doing something other than twiddle our thumbs. They're trying to actually improve their English program here and they've got a lot of money in their pockets to back it up, I think it's kinda counteractive for me to ignore when kids are literally being handed gibberish that's barely English on the daily and being told 'here, read this, it's English'. Literally my one job is to expose them to natural English... I'm not gonna lie and say gibberish is English. I can do robotic responses all day, but I really can't make 'My dog is treasure. I won't forget he came to me' (JTE's example) work...
    Last edited by weepinbell; September 16th, 2015 at 23:26.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Unavoidable JTE mistakes

    "My dog is a treasure. I won't forget the day he came to me." Aside from a couple of minor mistakes in your version, what on Earth is wrong with that? If you think that's gibberish, you're in for some hard times.

    Answer their questions and make corrections and edits on the fly. Say, "Hmm, that's good, but how about this?" Or "That's great! -but this might be easier to say."

    You are a temporary employee with absolutely minimal qualifications. She is not. Burn those bridges now and you'll have bigger problems.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jiggit View Post
    But what if we reverse the polarity of the quantum string theory? According to uncertainty principle there are infinite worlds out there, so it stands to reason schrodinger's cat is alive in one of them.


    Quote Originally Posted by Apollo87;
    U da real mvp.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Unavoidable JTE mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by uthinkimlost? View Post
    "My dog is a treasure. I won't forget the day he came to me." Aside from a couple of minor mistakes in your version, what on Earth is wrong with that? If you think that's gibberish, you're in for some hard times.

    Answer their questions and make corrections and edits on the fly. Say, "Hmm, that's good, but how about this?" Or "That's great! -but this might be easier to say."

    You are a temporary employee with absolutely minimal qualifications. She is not. Burn those bridges now and you'll have bigger problems.
    Thank you for the correction... would have never guessed it. Too bad I was seeing it for the first time as she was handing it to me to read aloud to the class who already had copies of it in their hands. This happens every day.

    See my problem?

    I do all of these things you're suggesting. That's the problem. It gets messy when she asks me for corrections mid-class and when I give them to her, she writes her own version on it on the student's papers that STILL is gibberish, or thinks I'm ruining the integrity of her original nonsensical translation. Mind you, this is when SHE herself asks me directly. And the problem isn't correcting their mistakes... it's that whenever I make these suggestions, I'm more or less implying 'your teacher screwed up. Lemme fix that for you'... because they're HER translations. Not theirs. Like you keep saying, I AM actively trying not to burn bridges by trying to figure out how to do this subtly...

    If it were as easy as you're making it sound, I would have had this problem solved a week ago.

    Edit: Please trust me when I say that's really not the worst of it by any means. That was her in-class example. The translations she handed the students on the other hand... 'The erase is easy to put out'.... that was the example I used above. After discussing with her, we came to the conclusion it was supposed to be 'My eraser is easy to take off of my pencil', but she got butthurt that her translation was so off and still made me translate it pretty questionably to save face. It's stuff like that. And she only asks me to help her with certain sentences... so I can't make simple corrections like the one above, because she doesn't think there's anything wrong with it. Until we get to class and she has to confront that her students don't get it... and the cycle repeats.
    Last edited by weepinbell; September 17th, 2015 at 00:15.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Unavoidable JTE mistakes

    A lot of new JTE's have very mixed up ideas of how to use an ALT because they're so new and they aren't given any real training on how to work with one.

    I dealt with quite a few of these brand new young teachers with horrific English. Sometimes they take the "I'm the leader" role way too far and think they need to control every single part of the class. When in reality it would make way more sense for you to write these translations in correct English. Sometimes they are just totally lost in general so trying to accomplish much of anything with them their first year can be pretty futile.

    Sounds like it's a mix of some ego on her part and a lot of inexperience. Do you have a good relationship with any of the older JTE's? Sometimes very carefully approaching it with them can lead to results. But the fact that she's new is what the problem is.

  16. #16
    Billy Big Bollocks Ini's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unavoidable JTE mistakes

    what speech contest is this for? If they only need 1 kid from each class then make sure you correct the best kids speech first then spend the rest of the time going around doing damage control on the others.
    Great men of action never mind on occasion being ridiculous; in a sense it is part of their job.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Unavoidable JTE mistakes

    Patsj yeah I have a really good relationship with 2 of my other JTESs and I was actually thinking of doing that... But I didn't wanna make it sound like I was throwing her under the bus either. Any tips on how to bring it up if it comes to that? Yeah if she'd just let me correct those damn translations this wouldn't be an issue... She's really kinda sabotaging herself because this way the kids see her mistakes. They're not dumb kids either lol.

    Ini she already talked to the kids who want to do the contest without telling me I think. That's definitely a good plan so I'll try asking her today which students they are so I can focus on damage control for them first.

    Also managed to get a hold of my pred who's still working in the area. He says he thinks he knows what I'm talking about so we're meeting today and hopefully he has some tips of for he handled this even though they didn't work together for long...
    Last edited by weepinbell; September 17th, 2015 at 07:27.

  18. #18
    Billy Big Bollocks Ini's Avatar
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    Default Re: Unavoidable JTE mistakes

    I hope this isn't the prince takamado trophy speech contest as if you havent decided on who is doing it and spent the last 4-12 weeks practicing then your 3rd graders are going to look bigger fools than some 1st grader who is treasuring the night his dog came on him.
    Great men of action never mind on occasion being ridiculous; in a sense it is part of their job.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Unavoidable JTE mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by weepinbell View Post
    Thank you for the correction... would have never guessed it. Too bad I was seeing it for the first time as she was handing it to me to read aloud to the class who already had copies of it in their hands. This happens every day.

    See my problem?

    I do all of these things you're suggesting. That's the problem. It gets messy when she asks me for corrections mid-class and when I give them to her, she writes her own version on it on the student's papers that STILL is gibberish, or thinks I'm ruining the integrity of her original nonsensical translation. Mind you, this is when SHE herself asks me directly. And the problem isn't correcting their mistakes... it's that whenever I make these suggestions, I'm more or less implying 'your teacher screwed up. Lemme fix that for you'... because they're HER translations. Not theirs. Like you keep saying, I AM actively trying not to burn bridges by trying to figure out how to do this subtly...

    If it were as easy as you're making it sound, I would have had this problem solved a week ago.

    Edit: Please trust me when I say that's really not the worst of it by any means. That was her in-class example. The translations she handed the students on the other hand... 'The erase is easy to put out'.... that was the example I used above. After discussing with her, we came to the conclusion it was supposed to be 'My eraser is easy to take off of my pencil', but she got butthurt that her translation was so off and still made me translate it pretty questionably to save face. It's stuff like that. And she only asks me to help her with certain sentences... so I can't make simple corrections like the one above, because she doesn't think there's anything wrong with it. Until we get to class and she has to confront that her students don't get it... and the cycle repeats.
    I'm going to be relatively blunt here.

    I don't take anyone's pov at face value, particularly here, because it is only from one perspective in a fairly complex system. I doubly doubt your perspective to be entirely fair, since everybody in the first few months feels like the Eigo Messiah. Looking at your post history, you've been here a month and already had a JTE ignoring Meeeeeeee and the World's Worst translating JTE. Classes have been in session for 2 weeks.

    I believe she is making mistakes. She is an ESL speaker and has had to edit a lot of speeches. That eraser bit certainly isn't great, but in a few weeks you'll suss out the meaning very quickly. I believe that you are likely capable of correcting the mistakes she makes. Her mistakes may be heinous occasionally, but really you need to flex your editing-on-the-fly muscles anyway. This won't be the last time you need them.

    Ini made a very valid observation, and one that will help you save face at the contest itself. patjs' suggestion is also good, but might be difficult for you to pull off as you still don't know who these people are or how they'll react. (Like I said, you have no idea how hard this new woman has it.)

    Take yourself out of the equation, look at what really needs to happen. Is winning this battle in this way really worth the war? You don't know your kids yet, you barely know any of your JTEs.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jiggit View Post
    But what if we reverse the polarity of the quantum string theory? According to uncertainty principle there are infinite worlds out there, so it stands to reason schrodinger's cat is alive in one of them.


    Quote Originally Posted by Apollo87;
    U da real mvp.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Unavoidable JTE mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by uthinkimlost? View Post
    I'm going to be relatively blunt here.

    I don't take anyone's pov at face value, particularly here, because it is only from one perspective in a fairly complex system. I doubly doubt your perspective to be entirely fair, since everybody in the first few months feels like the Eigo Messiah. Looking at your post history, you've been here a month and already had a JTE ignoring Meeeeeeee and the World's Worst translating JTE. Classes have been in session for 2 weeks.

    I believe she is making mistakes. She is an ESL speaker and has had to edit a lot of speeches. That eraser bit certainly isn't great, but in a few weeks you'll suss out the meaning very quickly. I believe that you are likely capable of correcting the mistakes she makes. Her mistakes may be heinous occasionally, but really you need to flex your editing-on-the-fly muscles anyway. This won't be the last time you need them.

    Ini made a very valid observation, and one that will help you save face at the contest itself. patjs' suggestion is also good, but might be difficult for you to pull off as you still don't know who these people are or how they'll react. (Like I said, you have no idea how hard this new woman has it.)

    Take yourself out of the equation, look at what really needs to happen. Is winning this battle in this way really worth the war? You don't know your kids yet, you barely know any of your JTEs.
    Dude, every time I post anything on this site you're quick to attack and I don't know why... and then you sit there and say 'Oh you should be taking this person's advice'... that's exactly what I'm doing without your input! Why do you think I get a little ruffled when I respond to your stuff? I'm new, I'm struggling and I need advice. I readily admit that and that's exactly why I post questions here... sorry if I don't do it in a format that you prefer, but the point is, I'm reaching out and I'm getting some really good advice because of it.

    Like thanks for pointing out that Ini and Patsj had good advice... that's exactly why I responded to them saying I'd take it. That's exactly why I posted this question... because I'm inexperienced and frustrated and I wanted some advice. Yes, I've only been in school for a month now, but I work with this teacher 2-3 classes a day and since the same exact situation has been happening every day in every single class for a month with no idea how to handle it, I decided to seek advice on it. I'm not looking for sass about the validity of my situation, I'm looking for actual advice. After I filter through all your sourness, that's exactly what people are giving me... I can take their advice without your reiterating the same thing in a saltier way.
    Last edited by weepinbell; September 17th, 2015 at 10:05.

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