I have talked about the difficulty of translation between languages before, but I’ve been thinking about translations again recently, so I decided to write my thoughts on the subject in greater detail this time. Right now, I am currently at a level of proficiency that allows me to consume some Japanese media entirely in Japanese. Some things are still well above my level of comprehension, such as scientific, political, or highly technical topics, but for the most part, I can understand pretty much anything that I encounter. This has, in turn, caused my confidence in my ability to understand to increase greatly. I am now at the point where I am considering replacing a lot of my translated Japanese media, mostly video games, with the Japanese versions. Those are the original versions of those works, in most cases, although there are some exceptions, as I do have several Japanese games that were actually written in English to begin with, but for the most part, Japanese is the original language. I don’t really need to do this, but it doesn’t really prevent me from considering doing it anyway. I have found that my ability to understand another language has allowed me to understand the things that don’t work well in English or can’t be translated to English at all. There are plenty of Japanese jokes or words or expressions that do not work well in English. The reverse is true, as well. Because some things simply do not exist in the [→続きを読む]

Today I want to talk about something that I have discussed with my students several times recently. Some of them have mentioned that they sometimes have difficulty writing essays for various reasons. Sometimes they have difficulty with getting started. Sometimes they have difficulty deciding what to say. Sometimes they know what they want to say but have difficulty with finding a way to type or write what it is that they want to say. There are other things that might be difficult, whether it’s spelling or punctuation or grammar or even something else entirely, but I have found a way that helps me to easily write strong and well-planned essays in only minutes. Basically, the first thing that I do is to understand what it is that I need to write about. This goes beyond simply reading the question, as the writer must first understand what it is that the question is asking for. Once I understand what the question is asking for, I will immediately decide what structure I want to use to answer the question. Once I do this, I’ll decide on the content and write what I need to write. With this approach, I have found it very easy to write quickly and effectively. I think that, with practice, it is very easy for me, or for anyone else, for that matter, to be able to quickly and easily write a suitable essay for almost any purpose. While this does allow the writer to quickly write essays, [→続きを読む]

Typically, I have found that the final four months of the year are the busiest part of the year for me at Youyou. Lots of the English-language programs have their admissions periods around this time of the year, with quite a few of them having similar timelines and sometimes even similar requirements. What I want to talk about today, however, are some of the non-academic things that I think of during this time period. One of the things that I associate with this time of the year is actually something that’s something rather simple; our office hours change during the summer and then return back to our typical times at the beginning of September. There are things to learn from such a schedule change, however, and it’s possible that you have encountered such a change before, even if you’ve never really thought about it. If your change your daily schedule, such as deciding to wake up at an earlier or later time than you typically do, your body will eventually get used to this new schedule. This is typically quite apparent when you find that you have to wake up considerably earlier than you usually do for some reason, such as having to wake up early to accomplish some task that you normally do not engage in. Your body might not like it if you do this, causing you to feel more tired than you normally do, but it’s entirely possible that you might encounter such a situation. In the [→続きを読む]

Recently, I have been planning a series of videos for Youyou in English. Although we do have ongoing videos in Japanese, I decided that it would be an excellent opportunity to expand beyond just having Japanese videos and to have English ones as well. Basically, my plan is to discuss things that pertain to studying in English, of course, but also to discuss other related subjects. One of my students recently mentioned to me that she would like to study abroad. Many of my other students have mentioned this to me in the past, as well, or have specifically mentioned that they want to study abroad or are at least interested in possibly going to study abroad. Some schools or programs may even require a study abroad period as part of their graduation requirements, as well. I myself have not participated in an actual study abroad program, but I have did go to a university that is located outside of my home country, so I think that my experiences might likely be somewhat interesting to students. One of my coworkers has also studied abroad, so we are planning on discussing our experiences with studying in and also simply being in other countries, as I think that our discussion will likely be highly interesting for those who are interested in studying abroad but have not had the chance to do so. Another aspect that I would like to explore, one that is also related to study in other countries, is specifically [→続きを読む]

I’ve talked at length before about some of my experiences living in Japan, but I think one of the more interesting things that comes to my mind is the weather in Japan during the summer. This is something that honestly surprised me a great deal when I first arrived in Tokyo. Because I’m originally from a place that does not typically get very hot at all and where there is typically snow on the ground in significant quantities by the middle or end of October, I am not typically fond of hot temperatures. It’s now mid-August, so it has been quite hot recently in Tokyo. I wasn’t really aware of it at the time, but Tokyo is located approximately 35 degrees north. This places it somewhere around Georgia in the United States, so I should have perhaps expected the weather to somewhat resemble Georgia’s, and some research shows that Atlanta’s and Tokyo’s average temperatures are generally somewhat similar. I have found that Tokyo’s summers are quite hot. They are also very humid, as well. This is something that I find to be rather different from many other places that I have lived in. In Alaska, it doesn’t really get too terribly hot at all, of course, and that’s still my preferred type of weather in general. Florida is much closer to Tokyo’s weather but lacks an actual winter season. Basically, Florida has two seasons: hot and extremely hot, both with relatively high degrees of humidity. One of the other places [→続きを読む]

While I have typically written about learning and education up until this point, I think I’d like to take the time to discuss some of my experiences living in a foreign country. As some of my students are interested in study abroad programs at various Japanese universities, I think it might be interesting to discuss some of my own experiences with living abroad. I had just turned 19 not long before I arrived in Japan for the first time. I was in the United States Marines at that point and had been for slightly less than a year. Near the end of my training, I was given several options for where I would like to serve. My choices were the United States (West), United States (East), and overseas. Knowing that Marines with my job that served overseas were basically only located in Japan, I realized that this was essentially a way to visit a foreign country for free, so I selected the overseas option with the hope of going to Okinawa. Fortunately for me, Okinawa was in fact the location that was selected for me, so after a month of leave, I went to Okinawa. When I got to Okinawa, it was night and I couldn’t see very much, but one of the first things I noticed after leaving the airport was that the Marine that was driving the car that I was in was driving on the left side of the road. In the United States, we drive on [→続きを読む]

One of the most effective ways to study a foreign language is to fully immerse yourself in that language. This generally involves entering an environment in which the chosen language is the only language used. One of the reasons that total immersion is very effective is because it forces the student to learn. Because the student is now in a situation in which they have no choice but to interact with the language, they will learn through constant exposure. While this may seem intimidating, and it can be at first, I myself have found that it most definitely is an effective way to learn. When I arrived in Okinawa and began living on one of the military bases there, I had already learned small amounts of Japanese and my small degree of fluency was good enough for my friends to use me as a somewhat convenient translator, but my knowledge was still limited. After I moved to Tokyo, I began to study Japanese at my university. The Japanese classes, of course, were no longer the only time I encountered the Japanese language; as I no longer lived on an American military base, there were not a lot of foreigners to talk to outside of my school, and as a result, my level of immersion in the language was much greater than it was when I lived on Okinawa. Although I was mostly comfortable with the language before, I found that this sort of total immersion helped me to greatly increase [→続きを読む]

When I came to Japan for the first time, I found that there were many things that the United States and Japan have in common, but I also found that there are also a large amount of differences. I moved back to the United States for a short time, but then I returned to Japan in order to study here. I would like to talk about my time studying in a foreign country. One of the major differences between the United States and Japan that I encountered when I first arrived was that banking and money seemed to be done slightly differently. Although it has changed since I arrived here, when I first came to Japan in 2009, I found that many stores, particularly restaurants, did not accept payment by card, so I often found myself carrying cash. This was mostly when I was living in Okinawa, but I did encounter similar experiences when I later moved to Tokyo. This has mostly changed since my arrival, however, as I have increasingly found that the number of restaurants that do not accept credit cards or debit cards seems to have decreased. This was something of a change for me, as in the United States, most places accept cards, and it reminded me that I was not living in my own country and that I must adapt to the local environment. I did not attend a Japanese school during my time studying in Japan; I went to an American university instead. While [→続きを読む]

Sometimes students may get an opportunity to study abroad. There are several reasons why studying abroad can be beneficial for a student. The first reason that studying abroad might be beneficial is that it allows students to improve their proficiency in a foreign language if the student studies in a country where the primary language is not their own native language. This sort of experience will allow them to increase their proficiency in that language, and students could benefit greatly from doing so. One of the best ways to improve proficiency in a language is to totally immerse yourself in it; by living in an environment in which the student would have constant exposure to the language, the student’s level of proficiency will likely increase. Another reason that study abroad might be beneficial is that the student will get to experience interacting with people from a different culture. This can lead to the student being exposed to different ways of thinking than what they might be used to. This, in turn, could lead the student to developing a more international mindset. A third reason that students may want to consider is that studying internationally may allow them to attend schools that are highly regarded internationally or offer education programs that will allow them the student to study subjects that the schools in their own countries perhaps might not offer. As I studied in Japan instead of in my own country, I found it to be most interesting to live in [→続きを読む]

Translating between different languages can be one of the most difficult tasks that a student of foreign languages may be required to do. While some instances may be relatively simple, there are other instances in which the process is considerably more difficult. While there are many different situations in which someone may wish to translate between languages, I’ll be focusing on general academic work here. If a student is studying a foreign language, they may have an idea that they wish to express, either verbally or in writing, but they may not know the proper words to use because they have not learned the words that they need yet. In this case, it is possible that the student will do research and attempt to find the word or words that they need in order to be able to express their ideas or thoughts. While there are many ways to go about translating effectively, let’s look at machine translations and how they can be both beneficial and harmful, depending on the situation. In general, machine translation tools, like Google Translate, tend to translate things literally. Because of this, some expressions that may sound just fine in some languages may not turn out well when put through a machine translation process. One such example is the Japanese term 切れ者, a sharp (as in intelligent/capable) person. Put 切れ者 into Google Translate and it will result in “cut person”, which is definitely not what the writer would be looking for in that situation. In [→続きを読む]