He joined Smith’s School of English in Sagamihara about 10 years ago. “Mr. T” checked into his free trial lesson as a strong beginner of English, and I remember him telling me that he was a fruit salesman. Little did I know, we would have a small pronunciation problem for quite some time.
As time passed, I asked him where he worked, and he said he was based in Shinjuku, Tokyo, but was often on business trips. “What do you do on business trips,” I asked. “I talk to customers about the fruit.”
Japanese Fruit Doesn’t Come Cheap
Months later, I asked him what kind of fruit he sold. “Yanagisawa fruit,” he said. “That sounds like an expensive brand name to me.” “Yes, it’s very expensive,” he said. Now, I know that good Japanese fruit is expensive and very delicious, especially the apples from up north, and the various melons. So I imagined it to be top quality Japanese fruit, carefully wrapped and boxed to be presented as gifts- not the kind you see in the supermarkets.
Pronunciation Problem Solved
A full year had passed, and one day he came to class and said “I brought my fruit catalogue for you to see.” “Great,” I thought, finally a chance to see what kind of fruit he was selling, and the cost. He reached into his bag and pulled out a catalogue for “Yanagisawa FLUTES.” I completely lost my composure and started laughing uncontrollably. Of course he was confused and didn’t understand why I was laughing.
I looked at him with tears in my eyes and said “for the last year and a half I thought you were selling apples and oranges- FRUIT, not FLUTES!!! Then he started laughing too. Both of us were so out of control that we couldn’t talk. Not much got accomplished that day, I’m sorry to say, but we sure did have a good time! In fact, I still chuckle about it on occasion, and I will never forget “Mr. T.”
English pronunciation is sometimes difficult for Japanese learners, and can obviously lead to confusion! But that isn’t a big problem because we are always ready to help at Smith’s School of English! In fact, we have a special pronunciation course for those interested here. Helping people outside of Smith’s is also not a problem with me. I’m always happy to help out my musician friends that call on me once in a while, as in the case of my friend and professional jazz vocalist Akiko Nakanowatari. https://nakanowatari.jimdofree.com/profile-1/.
A short blog written 2 years ago about her success here- https://sse-franchise.com/jazz-akiko-nakanowatari/ As always, thank you for reading!
Jim; Smith’s School of English, Sagamihara http://smithweb.co.jp/sagamihara/
a wonderful story! .. i kept guessing in my mind what else ‘fruit’ could be .. until il i saw the flutes and it all became clear .. 😁✨
Thanks Jane, it’s one that I’ll never forget!