Today in class, in celebration of America's Independence Day, I asked students to write down questions that they have about America. Here is what they asked and a short description of how I answered.
1. (the most frequently asked question) Why are hamburgers so big?
Hamburgers are big because Americans expect large quantities of stuff for low prices.
2. Why are there so many big cars?
See answer to question one.
3. Why are American things so big?
See amswer to question one.
4. Why are Americans so big?
First, not all Americans are big. There are lots of people and too many to generalize , but...it's because they eat too much, and because their genes are the way they are.
5. Why are there so many luxury cars?
Because there are people with money who want to buy showy stuff and 0% fincancing. The students were impressed that one could take out a loan for a car and not pay interest.
6. What is the most popular Japanese car maker in the US?
I said that I thought it is Toyota. (Is it?)
7. Why do American cars have so much horse power?
Partially, see the answer to question one, plus highways and roads are wide, long, and not as crowded as Japan, so one can travel from point A to point B faster.
8. Why do people drive on the right side of the road and have the steering wheel on the left side?
I don't know the history of this decision, but I know others have made different decisions.
9. How much is the dollar in yen?
Today it is about 111 yen to the dollar.
10. How many states are there?
There are 50, not counting Japan and Israel.
11. Does everyone have a gun?
12.Why is everyone allowed to have a gun?
This is always an interesting discussion. I ask the students about the framers of the constitution. Why would they agree that people should have guns? What were they afraid of? This illicits answers like, "robbers," "bears," "the Mafia." When they find out that they were really afraid of big government, they have to stop and think. "Do you trust your government," I ask them. They all agree that they do not. "Then why do you pay with taxes for all the guns that the government soldiers possess while you have nothing?" They can see that the system isn't especially logical. I am not an advocate of gun ownership, but to willingly pay for others to have guns while you cannot is insane.
13. When did major league baseball start?
I don't know, but I will look it up and tell them next time.
14. Do Americans take off their shoes in their homes?
As a rule, no, but there are so many people with so many customs that I cannot say that no one does. I rather like the custom now, and if I return to the US, I would offer to let people take off their shoes and be more comfortable. If they aren't comfortable, then they can leave the things on.
15. How much is an "indies" CD in America?
I don't know. I will check right after I find out what an "indies" CD is.
16.Why are there so many crimes in America?
There are many factors affecting this. Many have to do with a social system that requires such a huge level of poverty in a country that has so much to offer. Why don't kids read? Read Stephen Krashen's "The Power of Reading." Then you'll see why wealthier kids have advantages.
17. Why does America send it's military all over the world? To protect peace?
To protect the priveledge of the rich. If Iraq is an example of a military action started to protect world peace, then it has gone badly awry.
18. What season is the most beautiful in America?
All seasons in America are beautiful. February and March are not the greatest months, but America is a beautiful place.
19. Where is your favorite place in America?
The Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho.
Happy Independence Day!