Tag Archives: understanding

Dear Teacher

It’s that time of year. The kids go back to school. I thought I’d share a post made by Eric, aka stomperdad. He’s a parent who understands what teachers go through.

All In A Dad's Work

Dear Teacher,

Today is your first day of school, again. Though, I know today really isn’t your first day. You have been at inservices enhancing your teaching methods. Those inservices, which use up your precious classroom time. A time you use to get your classrooms in order. Figure out your desk arrangement and where to sit your new, eager learners even though you nothing about them. A time you use to decorate your walls, bulletin boards and chalk boards. This, I know, is no easy feat. But you’re creative, you’ll have no trouble. Your walls and boards will be adorned with bright colors and all things educational. Regardless of the all meetings and inservices, your classroom will be open, ready, and eager for new learners.

Those inservices that use up your precious planning time. You get very little of it in a normal day. So little, in fact, that you…

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A Japanese Language Barrier Just Shattered

Something just happened a few minutes ago that has me quite surprised. But I’ll get to that in a moment.  First, a little background.

I started studying Japanese when I was in university in Victoria way back in 1997. I took just one class, and I thrived. I learned hiragana and katakana in just two weeks and could read and write fairly well within a month. I seemed to have a knack for it. I also had a very good teacher who supported us extremely well. By the end of the term, I could give someone a tour of a house. I was tremendously pleased with how quickly I learned. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take the second class because of schedule conflicts.

Fast forward to 2005. I arrived in Japan and was like anyone who’s traveled to a foreign country for the first time, completely enamoured by the sights and sounds of Japan. I was happy to notice that I could still read hiragana and katakana and recognised some of the kanji, too.  I bought textbooks, and I intended to study and start speaking with people.  What happened was different. I spoke English all day at work. I spoke English with my friends. It seemed I only spoke Japanese with shop staff when I was shopping, and that was very limited.

In 2007, I challenged the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) level 3, which is survival Japanese.  I studied hard for 3 months before the test, but it wasn’t enough.  I failed, but just barely.  A year later, I studied furiously for 3 months and passed the test with a huge improvement in listening.  Why exactly was my listening so good while everything else was just mediocre? TV. I watched a lot of TV, and that helped my Japanese comprehension a lot.  At that point, I could understand the topics people were talking about, but not the details.

After that, my Japanese studying stagnated.  I still used English all the time at work. There weren’t many opportunities for me to really use Japanese.  When I met my wife in 2010, I still spoke English. When I met her family in 2011, I tried my best to speak with them in Japanese, and still do to this day. However, I felt like my Japanese never improved, and that was because I just wasn’t trying to use it as much as I should have. I couldn’t really at work, because it’s an English language environment.  And with my daughter around at home, I only use English because I’m the only source of fluent English for her to hear.

Everywhere I go, I still hear Japanese. My wife speaks Japanese with my daughter and quite often with me. And I’m always telling myself that I need to study. I need to try.

But something happened tonight that amazed me. I was watching a video where someone was interviewing people on the street about what is great and not so great about Japan, and I suddenly found myself understanding. Not just the 10 or 20% that I’d been understanding of people around me.  But it was more like 75% understanding! I was listening to them speaking and I knew what they were saying! It just suddenly came naturally. Such a strange, yet wonderful feeling.

I’m hoping this feeling happens more often. It’s given me a bigger push to work on my Japanese. I hope by the end of this year, I can have decent conversations with people, especially my wife’s family.

今から一生懸命勉強しますよ!

Introvert Problem Checklist

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll probably know I’m an introvert.  Pulptastic recently posted a list of problems that only introverts would understand.  Well, let’s see if I understand them.

1. Practicing conversations with people you’ll never talk to.

Guilty.  I’ve done this, though I can’t tell you who I had conversations with.  They’re not real.  I guess this is kind of a way of practicing what I would say in different situations if they ever arose.

2. When you want to cut all ties to civilization but still be on the internet.

Several years ago, yes.  These days, no.  I actually like going out.  I don’t do this anymore, but I used to.

3. When your friend wants to invite more people over, and you don’t want to sound like a bad person by saying no.

Yeah.  I preferred to avoid large groups, but I found it hard to say no.  Not such a problem now.

4. When spending a heavenly weekend alone means that you’re missing out on time with friends.

Yeah, well, I enjoyed my time alone.

5. And you fear that by doing so, you are nearing ‘hermit’ status.

I was a hermit for a while in university.  I didn’t go out except for class.

6. When your ride at a party doesn’t want to leave early, and no one seems to understand your distress.

Hasn’t happened to me before, since I tended to avoid parties.  But I guess there were times when I simply didn’t go to parties to avoid being around people I barely knew.

7. Trying to be extra outgoing when you flirt so your crush doesn’t think you hate them.

Flirt?  What’s that?  I didn’t flirt.  I was too embarrassed to do that.

8. That feeling of dread that washes over you when the phone rings and you’re not mentally prepared to chat.

This wasn’t a problem, to be honest…until after I worked at a call centre.  Working at a call centre made me hate talking on the phone, and I am always reluctant to answer if it’s an unknown number.

9. When you have an awesome night out, but have to deal with feeling exhausted for days after the fact.

Hasn’t happened.  I avoided big nights out.

10. People saying “Just be more social.”

This is annoying.  I don’t have that problem these days, having learned how to be more outgoing.

11. When you’re able to enjoy parties and meetings, but after a short amount of time wish you were home in your pajamas.

Yeah, this has happened. I’ve enjoyed early parts of parties, then kept watching the clock to see when it was time to go home.  This was much more common when I was a kid, and at a party my parents dragged me to.  I just wanted to leave.

12. Staying up late every night because it’s the only time that you can actually be alone.

Yes! And it seems like some people just don’t understand this.  Like my daughter.  She just won’t go to bed.

13. People making you feel weird for wanting to do things by yourself.

Yeah.  Seeing movies, eating in restaurants, things like that.  I did that alone, and I felt awkward when people looked at me.

14. Having more conversations in your head than you do in real life.

I do have a lot of conversations in my head.  Isn’t that normal?  I get lost in my own thoughts a lot, but I tend to figure out a lot of things that way, especially with my writing.

15. The need to recharge after social situations.

Absolutely.  They drain me.

16. People calling you out for day dreaming too much.

Not really.  I’ve always been quite alert and aware of everything going on around me.  I’ve never been a daydreaming introvert.  I’m an observational introvert.

17. Carrying a book to a public place so no one will bug you, but other people take that as a conversation starter.

It happened!  I was reading an astronomy magazine when I was in university, and a woman came up to me to tell me how beautiful the universe is and that God was so wonderful.  I felt awkward and excused myself.

18. People interrupting your thoughts, and you get irrationally angry.

Not really.  I cope with that well.

19. Having to say “I kind of want to spend some time by myself” when you have to deal with that friend that always wants to hang out.

I haven’t really had a friend like that, to be honest.  But I did sometimes turn down invitations because I had “plans.”

20. When you’re asked to do a group project, and know that you’re going to hate every minute of it.

This is the story of every science experiment in junior high and high school I’ve done.  I was the top science student in my grade, and I really detested it when mediocre and scientifically impaired classmates tried to tell me how the experiments are really done.  They were ignoring the instructions.  I made sure to let the teacher know that they were doing it wrong, but here’s the interpretation of the data we gathered.  I always got top marks despite my partners’ mistakes.

21. When you hear the question “Wanna hang out?”, and your palms start to sweat with anxiety.

Not really.

22. When you hear, “Are you OK?” or “Why are you so quiet?” for the umpteenth time.

I got this so much.  It was incredibly irritating.  Yes, I am OK.  I’m quiet because that’s just how I am.  I’m a listener, not a speaker.

23. Having visitors stay with you is a nightmare, because it means you have to be on at ALL TIMES.

Not a problem when it’s family.  Maybe I just get along with my family.

24. When people stop inviting you places because you’re the one that keeps canceling plans.

I don’t cancel.

25. Being horrified of small talk, but enjoying deep discussions.

I’m not horrified of small talk, I just find it awkward.  Deep discussions are amazing, though.  Love them.

26. When you need to take breaks and recharge after socializing for too long.

Yup.  I tended to withdraw at social gatherings and just listen from time to time.  But it wasn’t all the time.  I regained some energy and socialised again.

27. The requirement to think introspectively rather than go to someone else with your problems.

Yeah, I usually figured out any problem I had by myself.  Maybe this had more to do with pride, as I was always figuring out everything by myself in school.  That is, except when I had a bully.  I went for help then.

28. Not wanting to be alone, just wanting to be left alone. And people not understanding that.

I don’t really like being alone.  I hated it when I was single.  However, I have always needed time to be left alone.  This does not mean I’m being antisocial, it means I’m recharging.  And I need time alone to get lost in thought about various topics.

29. When people mistake your thoughtful look for being shy, or worse, moody.

This has happened.  But when I was a kid, I really was shy.  These days, people think I’m always very calm and quiet.  I’m usually deep in thought at those times.

30. That people need to know that you aren’t mad, depressed or anti-social. You just need to not talk to anyone for a while. And that’s okay.

Absolutely.  It is not being antisocial.  Being alone for a while means I’m getting my very important recharge time.  Being an introvert, I gain energy while I’m alone.

While some of these don’t apply to me, I can understand them all.  For those of you who are introverts, what do you think?  And for those of you who are extroverts, can you understand?