This is kind of an old story but it's still funny. A few weeks ago, I visited Bryn's junior high school on their "open day" (basically for parents to come to school and observe the students & teachers). I went because I wanted to see the level of the English being taught in the 3rd year classes since many of them would be my first year students during the new school year, and also because Bryn has raved about how fun and great his students are.
So, I went, and it was surprisingly one of the more fun days I had in Japan. We just walked around the school, observed a few of the English classes, ate lunch and hung out with the students, watched them during cleaning time (in Japan, the students do all the cleaning, not the janitors!) and warming up for their after school sports. By association, I was immediately "cool" for hanging out with Bryn, and some of his 1st year boys really took to me, which I found very flattering since high schoolers are "too cool" to latch on, much less talk to you (well, for me, that is- I think foreign guys seem to get more of the swooning attention of high school girls).
Anyway, to get to the point- I was talking to one of the English teachers after the lesson and he was extremely apologetic about how awful his English was and how boring I must have been in his class (oh so Japanese)... so I kept reassuring him how impressed I was with his fantastic English.
So he then asks me: "Is it true that in America, students don't sleep?"
Of course, I'm taken a little off guard, and I'm thinking that maybe he's finding similarities between American and Japanese students? So, I respond with something like, "Well, I suppose they don't sleep a lot, but yeah, they do sleep!"
Japanese teacher: "But I heard that you don't!"
Me: "Maybe some students don't, I suppose. I guess it just depends! If you have a lot of homework or a job and stuff, then you just sleep less."
JT: "So how often do they sleep then?"
Me: (What?!?) "Umm, like 8 hours?"
JT: "8 HOURS?!?!?"
Me: "OK, well, maybe 6 or 7? It depends!"
JT: "Wait, they do that (he points to a student sweeping the floor) for 7 hours?!?"
Me: "OHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! SWEEP!!! I thought you said sleep!"
And then I think back on the conversation and how weird and hilarious it must have sounded from me to be saying that students in America SWEEP for 8 hours!!! ahhh well. This time it was an accent thing, I think, and not my failing hearing....
The embarrassing thing was that this was RIGHT after I had insisted on how great his English was! eek!