The other day, I brought my Level 4 Japanese Language Proficiency Test study book to work with me. During a break, I tugged it out of my teacher bag and leafed through the many, many sections on particles. As I was trying to commit to memory the “x happens x times in x amount of time” structure, Bubbles – a Japanese staff member – asked what I was reading.
“It’s just my JLPT study book.” I said.
“Oh!” she cried happily. “You study Japanese?”
“Yes …” I said reluctantly. “Here and there.” And then, to add some legitimacy to my Japanese study, lest she think I was only messing around with konnichiwa and arigato, I added, “I’m, uh … taking the 4-kyuu this fall.”
“Sugoi!!” cried Bubbles.”
“Cool!” said Rina, another American teacher who stood nearby. “I’m taking the 3-kyuu. I might have taken the 2-kyuu but I chickened out. And you know Mary? She’s taking the 1-kyuu.”
“Oh, wow,” I said, red in the face.
Quietly, I slipped my piddly, undistinguished level 4 book into my bag.