Monday, February 13, 2017

Eye Contact

When the husband said, "The Japanese do not make eye contact," the wife said, "Young people make eye contact when they are talking to each other."

In reality she did not intend to disagree with him but the way she spoke gave the impression that she did, which upset the husband.

Communication confusions between the Japanese people and English-speaking people will occur when the former refer to peripheral developments only, which gives the false impression that the underlining fact is no longer valid. 

If the wife spoke English she would say, "I know what you mean but I have seen young Japanese making eye contact when they talk to each other," which not only will report on her observation but also support her position that she beilves that eye contact is important.

Friday, September 16, 2016

A nice surprice

I have recently began teaching at a company with a worry: a nagging worry that my students would reject me because I am Japanese. To my nice surprise, it was the worry that I did not need. Yes, I faced questions like, "Where are you from?" in the class and I honestly said I was from Japan. Indeed, some students seemed to have been shocked to see a Japanese instructor in front of them, and even then they became comfortable with me when they realized I am capable of teaching the language. In fact, they all seem to have accepted me as a role model.
This experience has taught me that many students do not make a distinction between native and non-native speakers as long as the instructor is capable of teaching English. It is perhaps other segments that draw the line when they are more concerned about business success over anything else.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Job Interview

Interviewer:   So, you're teaching English for a long time.
Interviewee:  Yes. Since 1980's.
Interviewer:  That's longer than any of our teachers here.
Interviewee:  That's possible.
Interviewer:  Since, you have so much experience, maybe you could shed light on
                   the situations we have in our university.
Interviewee:  Oh, OK.
Interviewer:  You see, we have a situation that ...
Interviewee:  I understand the situation. If I were you I would ...
Interviewer:  That's right. We could try that here, too. One more thing...You
                   see, we have students who are...
Interviewee: If I were you, I would...
Interviewer: Wow! That will work, too. Thank you very much.
Interviewee: You're welcome.

In a few days later, the interviewee received a letter that says: Dear Mr. Sekino. Thank you very much for coming to our interview. Your teaching career and expertise are certainly impressive, but unfortunately the position has been given to someone else.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Gatekeeper

Gatekeeper:          Next, please!
Man:                     Err…I can’t speak English.
Gatekeeper:          Don’t worry about it. We all speak one language here.
Man:                     This is strange. He is a foreigner and I understand him.                                          Maybe my English skills are improved.
Gatekeeper:          What are you mumbling about? I said we all speak one                                         language here. In fact, you do not speak a language, but                                       you will feel it. You’ll see it. I’ll take it that you used to be                                      Japanese?
Man:                     Used to be?
Gatekeeper:          You were Japanese?
Man:                     Yes, I am.
Gatekeeper:          Your name was Koji Takarazuka?
Man:                     Was?
Gatekeeper:          Never mind. You were Koji Takarazuka?
Man:                     Yes, I am.
Gatekeeper:          Wait a minute. I think I have met you before. Oh, I                                                 remember you were the one who interviewed me and                             rejected me because I was Japanese.
Man:                     Yeah, you were the Japanese man who pretended to be a                                     native speaker of English.
Gatekeeper:          Now, your entry to the land has just been denied based on                                   the fact that you used to be Japanese.
Man:                     Wait a minute! That’s racial discrimination!
Gatekeeper:          Next, please!



Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Voice of an English & business instructor

I endorse the spirit of DQEE. It is because the English language business in Japan has greater discrimination than the former South African apartheid. 

First of all, most English language schools and English language teaching companies in Japan will not hire Asian-looking or Black or Southeast Asian or Afro-American instructors, although they may be native English speakers. However, they hire many blonde and blue-eyed Eastern European instructors who have thick accents and hardly speak English. 

On the other hand, normal Japanese companies do not hire any foreigners as managers or even employees, and they only hire Japanese nationals. There is also active discrimination against male instructors. 

I have often encountered cases where the Japanese company clients would request a young, female, blonde instructor, or during the course request a change to a young, female, Caucasian instructor. 

When this keep reoccurring, one wonders about the criteria of the Japanese companies that hold English lessons for their employees either compulsory or volunteer, and the reasons of the employees for taking English lessons. 

Other issues I have faced is the continued lay offs of English teachers by these schools and training companies, in order to keep their labor costs low. Many of these firms and organizations continue to terminate the one-year contracts with instructors after a few years, so that they do not have to raise salaries and wages, even though the salary and wages of English instructors is already low compared to all the salaries, benefits, multiple allowances, and status privileges that normal Japanese public and private school Japanese instructors get. 

Many times, it is the English language school head instructors who systematically make false excuses or falsify evaluations, in order to get rid of high performance capable instructors who threaten their jobs. 

In the Japanese public schools and private schools, they hire foreign English teachers as English Language Assistants (ELAs) to teach the students. 

The Japanese English language instructors often are masters of English grammar, but they cannot speak English conversationally, and their accent is all wrong and incomprehensible. For example, instead of saying, “This is a pen,” they say, “Jisu izu ah pin.” They make the ELAs create all the English language training materials, which they do much better, because of the creativity of foreign teachers. 

The Japanese public school teachers do not have that much creativity, because they are brought up and educated in a rigid, militaristic, central government controlled Ministry of Education national textbook educational environment. 

The entire culture punished creativity; hence the famous Japanese saying, “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down,” and it becomes a mind made from manuals and methods and repetition of traditional ways of doing things. However, Japanese school teachers are treated as full-time lifetime employees with huge salaries and many allowances, while the foreign ELAs are only hired on a one-year contract with very low pay. 

This is the reason why all the established evaluation agencies of the world have rated Japan with very low “human rights” ratings globally due to all the open discrimination and prejudice and inhumane treatments of workers and violation of human rights. 

There is an overflow of English language teachers in Japan, because they hire all the college students who just want to come to Japan to play around and have fun, then go back to their countries after a year. 

Age is another area where “human rights” are violated. Normal Japanese companies will have on their recruitment ads and job descriptions an age limit of 30 or 35 years old. One has to work up the ranks, and after 30 years they can finally become managers. 

Even if you are a genius and a company executive in a foreign firm in Japan, if you apply to a Japanese company, they will start you off with a very low salary as a low-level employee. Many people who are laid off in their 40s and 50s have no companies that will accept them, even if they were senior managers and capable people in their former companies, so I have seen many of them working as taxi drivers or convenience store clerks. This is the reality of Japan and its labor market. 

This is why I respect cultures like the United States that hire people from any nation or ethnicity or age or gender (although there is a lot of discrimination against Christians now) for their management positions, and it is a nation that is based on performance and hard work and knowledge, instead of ethnicity or connections or lineage or age or race. This is what made the U.S. a superpower. 

Currently, Japan only hires Indian software programmers into their Japanese companies, but this has to change to accept people of all ethnicity, age, gender, religion, physical appearance, and race. This is why I respect what Nicky is doing by being a pioneer and leading the battlefront and undaunted advocate for the “human rights” of workers (especially foreigners) in Japan, and I thoroughly endorse his endeavors. It is a difficult upward battle, and may take centuries to change this medieval feudal system in Japan, but one has to start somewhere.

Anonymous English & Business Instructor in Japan for 25 years


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Japtown

This is my way of showing appreciations to Key and Peele


Deity:      Ah, so, sir, you are in Japtown.

Teacher:  Am I in what? Japtown? I don'wanna be in Japtown.
Deity:       Don’t you worry, ah, so, sir.
Teacher:   Stop saying, ‘ah so,’ man. Where did you learn that?
Deity:       What is wrong with it? I have learned the Japanese will say, “Ah so.”
Teacher:   Drop that crap, man! You don’t say no 'ah, so,' in Japan unless you're really an axx hxxx, he he he.
Deity:      I wish you are more subtle with the choice of your words. I just wanted to welcome you. From now on, I’ll call you what, Nicky, I guess.    
Teacher:  That’s better. So, I’m in Japtown? You mean I don’t have to lie that I’m an American any more and my students will accept me as a teacher of English even though they know I am Japanese?
Deity:       That is correct, sir, except for the fact that...
Teacher:   Don’t sir me. I'm not used to that.
Deity:        OK… Now, what?
Teacher:    So, you are saying I am now in a place where there is no racial discrimination?
Wife:         Wake up, honey! You’re scaring me.
Teacher:   Oh, I was just having a nightmare. I was in Japtown.
Wife:         Yes, you are.

Reference

[Comedy Central]. (2016, June 22). Key & Peele-Negro town-uncensored. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rg58d8opQKA





Sunday, June 19, 2016

Ichiro is humble about his achievements but eloquent about his inner thoughts

Ichiro, Miami Marlins outfielder, made 4,257 hits on June 15, 2016, surpassing the previous record made by Pete Rose. When The Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s daily paper, interviewed him, he was humble about his achievements but quite eloquent about his indignation that he has kept in him.

Asked about his thoughts on his new record, he said, “I've been itchy for the moment. The itchy feeling has always been in my system for three years when I am less than lucky,” referring to his limited appearances as a pinch-hitter and a fielder for the past three years. “This is why you want to surpass his record (to prove that you are good),” he said. Asked for comments on his moments of suffering, he said, “Who wants to say you are suffering if you are in the middle of it? I don’t. Nobody will.”

“I have always been laughed at all my life. When I won the leading hitter title in Japan, I said I wanted to win the same title in the Major League. Then, many people laughed at me,” he said.

Asked for comments on other great records in the baseball history, he said, “There are many good records in baseball but not all good records are made by players with good character. The reality is sometimes the opposite. Great records are great only when great players make them. I want to see great players break my record.

Discussion

1.      Is Ichiro happy when he broke the record?
2.      How do you describe his mood? stoic? pensive? restrained? angry? happy?
3.   If Ichiro were American, how would he answer the interview?

Reference

Touda, H. (2016, June 17).  Ichiro reaches all time high hits in Japan and the United States. [Ichiro nichi bei tsusan de saita anda] The Asahi Shimbun. p. 1.