L.L. stands for Language Lab, which is what this classroom used to be, probably 20 years ago. There are tape recorders built into each desk, along with individual microphone headsets. At the front of the room is a large control console, complete with a monitor system and master recording panel. I turned on the control console and found a display not unlike that of one of those old apple computers my elementary schools had in their computer labs when I was in like.. 2nd grade… that had 18 amazing colors on the screen. I guess the sad thing is that nobody knows how to operate this thing anymore, and even if they could, the students have absolutely destroyed the tape recorders in the desks and more than half of the headsets are missing or broken. Teenage ennui will always ultimately lead to destruction.
The LL is on the 4th (and top floor) of a separate building that was added to the campus of our school about…20 years ago. There’s a windowed connecting hallway that spans the distance between the main building and the building where the LL is. It’s wickedly cold because it’s all glass and old windows, but it offers a nice view, which is especially nice in the morning and mid-afternoon. Especially around 3:25, when I go for cleaning. The light hits the mountains in an especially nice way that calms me down after a long day.
I tried to decorate the LL a little bit. My predecessor had left up a lot of the posters and flags and things from the ALTs before him, and a lot of them had to do with New Zealand and the now totally defunct exchange program from about 10 years ago. My first week consisted of cleaning out all the garbage and tearing down all of the old posters. I made this poster for the window between the prep room (which is also our club room) and the actual classroom. Unfortunately 90% of my kids don’t know what it means… but I like it and it’s going to stay up as long as I’m here. There are also some maps and things like speech schedules that I have hanging on the walls, but I like looking at this during my classes when I get frustrated to remember why we need to learn how to speak each others’ languages.
Of course, the LL isn’t the pristine learning environment that I make it out to be. It’s pretty dirty, like… 20 million years of dust, on the shelves and things… it has a musty kind of smell, sometimes there are dead birds that I find out on the veranda, and then there are nice little things that my students write on the desks. I really like the one that says OCだるいよー。
Here’s a nice view from the front of the room. This is what I get to see every day at work.
The light coming through the pine trees next to the building along the riverside at 3:45 is surreal. I can never see the river because of the trees, but I can always hear it. Nobody comes in the entire building for any reason other than my class, and the band uses the big tatami rooms on the ground floor for practice, but other than that… there’s not much happening here, and it feels so lonely and neglected compared to the rest of the school. Anyway. It’s my classroom.