the nikku

reflecting on ESL/EFL and its relation to faith

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The World and the Virginia Shooting

Ever wonder how the rest of the world sees American school shootings? Well, here a few repeated comments I've heard in Japan:

"America is a very dangerous place."

"Does everyone have a gun in America?" - Guns are illegal in Japan, period. Even possession of a single bullet is illegal. Only Yakuza gangsters have guns, and they get them from the black market.

"Why do people need guns in America?" Other than hunting, I have no answer for this one. And I have yet to meet anyone who goes hunting in Japan.

"If I go to America, I am afraid of discrimination." This one I heard a lot even before the shooting. It's important to note that the shooter was a poor Korean immigrant, whose parents never made it out of poverty in the more than 15 years he lived in America.

I think this shooting is a sign of the growing gap between rich and poor in America, and the ignorance of the general public towards the plight of foreigners. Foreigners whom we welcome to our country.

For another opinion from Japan, see the Japan Times.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

English

Consider this, 80% of the information on the internet is English. How
much of the world speaks English as their native language? I'm sure it's
much less than that. What follows are some random thoughts on English:

Have you ever considered how strange it is that you can go anywhere in
the world, and just ask if someone speaks English?

Have you ever thought about why that is? Have you ever thought about the
history?

It's way easier for other Western cultures to learn English, because the
cultural concepts and norms are similar. It's really hard for Asians to
learn English because the cultural concepts and norms are /completely
/different.

On the flip side, other Asians learn Japanese way faster than Westerners
because their cultures are similar - yes, I'm jealous.

Have you ever considered how many people's opinions are not considered
worldwide, simply because they don't speak English?

Have you ever gone somewhere and asked if someone speaks English?

Speaking a second language develops a second personality - especially
when you're immersed - that is influenced by the culture. I'm way more
polite and considerate in Japanese. Have you ever thought about what
would happen if everyone spoke a second language?

English is the medium for international business.

What is the point of learning a second language?

It's hard to remember more than two languages. Every now and again when
I try and speak Spanish - yes I've spoken Spanish in Japan - it comes
out as a mix of Japanese and Spanish. Isn't that interesting?

I think mixing languages is okay. Even if you don't understand the word,
you understand the feeling. And talking with your hands and pointing
defiantly helps.

Speaking a second language helps you realize how helpless you are. And,
I think, it makes you more of an understanding person in general.

k, gotta go.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Oh what a trip

Well kids, I'm gonna be uber busy at school until about August (with a short breather in there for Golden Week) so this might be my last post for a while.

Here are the highlights of the trip to Kanto / missionary English teacher conference:

Got to know all about the Kyodan, meet other missionaries, and hang out at the conference. I also got to see A. again. (N-kun from Tokyo, if you're reading this, remember to go visit A. before she leaves. She wants to see you too, but she's afraid of navigating the Tokyo trains.)



Saw Mt. Fuji. Amazing isn't it? You gotta see it in person, it's huge. Like twice the size of any other mountain in Japan.



Had Ohanami with friends in Shinjukugouen. Why don't I have any pictures of that?

Came back home to the screaming of election campaigns on loudspeakers. Why does the quietest country in the world have the loudest election campaigns?



Much love! Later!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Libraries

At the local library, I found a very useful book called, "Getting around
A. Prefecture". It would have been very useful about six months ago. I
requested a copy for the next teacher from the printer - A. Prefectural
Foundation for Improving International Relations - but the book is no
longer in print. So I photocopied the whole thing. There was no
copyright in the front of the book, so it's completely legal for me to
do. :)

And I'm going to go and visit the "A. Prefectural Foundation for
Improving International Relations" as soon as I can, and see what other
resources they have. They provided an easy-to-use map in English on page
three.

So with my success at the local library, I decided to try the high
school library. It was a rather sad but useful trip into the past. The
collection hasn't been updated since the sixties or seventies - probably
the same time the current building was built.

It's kind of sad the slant of Christian libraries. I found two complete
Bible commentary series, as well as multiple histories of missionaries,
and collections of sermons and devotionals intended for American
audiences. Many of these books had been donated by "The Women's
Missionary Society" or individual missionaries themselves. I recognized
their names inside the front covers from the school history brochures.

I'm not exactly sure when "The Women's Missionary Society" quit being
involved with my high school, but I know they haven't been here in the
last ten years or so - neither personally or financially.

While the library was very useful for me (I took out four books,
although I'm not sure when I'll have time to read them), I doubt many of
the English students are interested in such heady books.