I made the mistake this evening of turning on the TV. As I was flipping through the channels, I landed on NHK, the national public station. NHK is a lot different from traditional PBS stuff we see in the US, primarily because people actually watch it. There are, however, a lot of trash programs on the station, including educational ones. I think I’ve complained before about my intense hate for the English educational shows on Japanese TV. Tonight may have been the worst I’ve seen, primarily because of this mega flamboyant possibly transvestite foreign teacher:

Look Ma, I'm wearing makeup!

Yikes is right. I’ve uploaded some poor-res video clips of this show on Youtube. Links are at the end of this post. You can probably imagine how freakishly strange this “guy” sounds, but it’s even worse than that. Please listen for yourself. Although he looks like Mimi from The Drew Carey Show, his voice is much, much higher.

The show is part of the Koukou Kouza series (NHK高校講座), which seems to have all kinds of lessons in different subjects targeted at high school students. I guess this show is actually for retarded high school students, because they have a teacher who speaks around 1 word a minute, and has to resort to extreme body and facial movements to keep your attention as he tries to get a full sentence out. Speaking of retarded high school students, check out the third video I uploaded from this show; not only do the kids speak English like they have speech impediments, but the conversation has no real logical flow either. The entire show is sentence repetition and basic conversations, which all in all isn’t that bad. My main beef with the show was the foreign host, who acts more like a clown that a teacher and doesn’t sound natural at all. If you spoke like that to a real native speaker, they’d laugh at you and walk away.

Of course I understand that you have to speak slowly and clearly for learners of English to understand you; I do it on a daily basis. However, this guy takes it over the top and deserves to be punched in the face for the way he acts. Most high school students don’t need to be spoken to this slowly. The students on the show, for example, spoke a lot faster and don’t need him breaking up every word into its own galaxy. Stop patronizing these people. I worry when I think about people actually watching these shows and thinking they’re going to learn how to speak English from someone like Mimi on TV here.

This guy’s name is Brian Wistner. After doing some hardcore research, by which I mean 1 page of Google search results, it seems as if this guy teaches English at some Christian college in Tokyo, and has also co-authored a book on taking TOEIC. Let’s hope for the sake of his customers and students that his on-camera persona is some kind of self-degrading joke, and he doesn’t really act, speak, or write like he does on the show. Something tells me that’s not the case though. I still can’t stand how pretty much every foreign co-host of these English shows on Japanese TV is a major toolbag. Yes, I said co-host, because I have yet to see a program that is hosted by a lone foreigner. There’s almost always a Japanese person there to lead the action, and that Japanese person usually speaks perfect English without acting like a high-school drama club reject. Hey NHK, here’s an idea: ditch the crap foreigners and just let these Japanese people host the shows.

Here are some clips of tonight’s show, in case you’re curious as to why this stuff annoys me so bad. I used my camera to take video off the TV, then posted them to YouTube, so obviously the quality is terrible. You can still watch them though.

  • Clip 1 – Watch Mimi-sensei spell out a sentence as if he were teaching a dog how to drive a Jeep.
  • Clip 2 – Another one!? Now he goes and talks to some Australian woman. This is the most awkward conversation using What’s up ever recorded on camera.
  • Clip 3 – Since the program was so awful, the kids didn’t learn anything. She’s hungry. Heading home now. Pork chop sandwiches? Duuuuuur.
Make it stop!