My Job and Writing

I teach English in Japan.  I’ve been doing it for more than 9 years, and should be here another 2 years.  As a result, I’ve been forced to think about English grammar and vocabulary nearly every day for quite some time.  It probably helps me with my writing in some ways.

One aspect of my job is that I have to know the proper way to say something using grammar.  Now, this isn’t always required, since I’m teaching conversation, not writing.  I teach a lot about casual conversation, as well as formal and business English.  There are idioms, figures of speech, and many other aspects of language that are not very natural for Japanese people to use.  You see, they learn grammar in school, but not conversation.  They can read reasonably well, but when it comes to speaking, they often can’t do much.  Of course, I do teach advanced students, but they’ve been studying English for a long time or have had to use it in business or lived overseas.  I’m exposed to a large variety of students, so I have to use many different kinds of language.  As a result, dialogue may be one of my stronger suits in writing.

When I began teaching, I didn’t know everything.  In fact, I found it kind of difficult to explain different rules for grammar and the difference between similar words.  This has caused me to learn a lot about my own language.  I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to grammar these days.  I guess I’m a Grammar Nazi.  I’ve also always been good at spelling.  In grade 8 in junior high school, we were given a spelling test to determine what level of spelling we had.  I had a perfect score.  I was spelling at a university level while I was 13 years old.  So when I write a draft, my spelling and grammar tend to be very good.  However, that doesn’t mean it’s great to read.

An interesting thing I’ve found is that the Japanese language has loan words from English, but the meaning is different.  For example, Japanese naive means sensitive in English.  Also, there are many mistakes that Japanese people learning English make.  For example, the usage of particles (a, an, the), the usage of almost, and verb tense problems.  Sarcasm is also not commonly used in Japan, so it often goes over the head of many Japanese.

When I read, grammar or spelling errors pop out to me.  The rare mistake is fine. But if they’re happening on every page I read, I find it difficult to read and take the book seriously.  Problems with to and too, confusing your and you’re, and mistakes with their, there, and they’re irritate me.  I also easily spot problems with quotation marks and commas when using dialogue and dialogue tags.  And the incorrect use of apostrophes aggravates me.  Maybe I could be a proofreader.  Or maybe I should stick with writing and blogging.

Do you have any difficulties with grammar or spelling?  It’s embarrassing to say this, but I often forgot if it’s embarrassing or embarassing. I don’t have that problem now.

12 thoughts on “My Job and Writing”

  1. It does irk me a little when I see a lot of simple mistakes in books, as it’s easy to get somebody to read it over and point them out.

    But yeah, sometimes I do hate my overuse of commas! 😀

  2. I love to write, but some grammar rules and spelling do not come easy. “Proper” grammar tends to be easier than what I call “novel” grammar. I’ve had certain rules drilled into me that I am constantly changing dialogue to make them more readable or “real”. Oh, I hate commas!

    1. I did a lot of scientific writing in university, which is really dry stuff. Not exactly enjoyable to write. And many scientists seem to love incredibly long run-on sentences with many technical terms.

  3. I edit technical documents as part of my job. I’ve learned over time to distinguish between acceptable writing (the meaning is clear, and is good enough for internal project documentation) and polished writing (for documents that will be published to clients). The biggest challenge that most of my colleagues face is proper placement of apostrophes. Mine is commas. Knowing the rules does not prevent me from making mistakes. The main reason I started my own blog was to try and make these topics easier to learn by using stories. I think grammar can be very intimidating when it’s presented the wrong way, which is a shame.

    1. That’s true. For some people, grammar is their worst enemy. As an ESL teacher, most of my students dread grammar. They also don’t like listening.

      As I have a scientific degree, I can understand technical documents can be incredibly dry. Also, scientists and engineers are often guilty of run-on sentences, as I’ve noticed in many papers I’ve read.

  4. I was going for teaching English in Japan as well. Alas, the fact that I’m a non-native English speaking male was an unavoidable block in my way.
    Good on you though, and hopefully you are happy where you are

      1. I’m from Egypt, meaning I can’t even remotely pass off as an English speaker…
        There are exceptions to every rule like your French friend, and I have also heard about a Mexican guy getting lucky, but it is extremely high risk for me to even try with the CELTA pathway and simply hope I can get lucky as well…
        Thanks for asking ^_^

        1. Oh really? I had no idea it was so difficult. There are several Japanese teachers of English here, and they are certainly not native.

          Anyway, good luck to you!

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