Monday, February 25, 2008

Show 653 Monday 25 February

Watch today’s show at YouTube or BlipTV.

Hi I’m Sarah. Welcome to The Daily English Show.

Today’s guest is Dwayne. He is from North Carolina in the United States. (Durham)

In 1995 he came to Japan and spent two years in Iwate teaching English on the JET program. He didn’t speak Japanese before he came, but he started learning it when he got here. And he’s now back in Japan working on his Ph.D. He’s living in Tokyo and he visited Niseko for a couple of weeks to do a bit of snowboarding and he kindly agreed to be interviewed I asked him about studying Japanese, teaching English and about his Ph.D.

So I studied for three years, um, continuously in the United States, preparing to come to Japan to do my own research, my own field work. So, and ... after I finished three years I had a fellowship to actually do more Japanese language study. An intensive course at International Christian University in Tokyo. So I spent one year just doing that. And now I’m currently doing my research in Japan.


Kia Ora, in Stick News today, a fake Facebook prince has been sentenced to three years in jail.

The Kingdom of Morocco is a country in North Africa with a population of 33 million.
The King of Morocco is a 44-year-old guy called Mohammed.
Mohammed has a little brother.
On the 5th of February a 26-year-old Moroccan engineer was arrested in Casablanca for making a Facebook profile using the name of the Prince.
Two days ago he was sentenced to three years in jail.

And that was Stick News for Monday the 25th of February.
Kia Ora

conversations with

#398 How did you learn Japanese?

Step 1: Repeat Sarah’s lines.
Step 2: Read Sarah’s lines and talk to Dwayne.

Sarah Did you enjoy teaching on the JET program?

Dwayne It was great. I, I had never taught ah, formally before – at least not in a large classroom setting. And I’d never really worked with children before. Um, I’d done work in American prisons, working with adult education programs. And I had done one on one, like, Eikaiwa, like English conversation. But I’d never worked with young people. So it was the first time to be working with young people in a really, ah, continued context. And it was great. And I discovered that I really liked junior high school aged children. Most people find them really difficult to work with because they’re transitioning from childhood, or from elementary school into high school. But I really liked kids because – well that age, because they were in a sort of difficult period I guess, yeah, so it was really cool.

Sarah How did you learn Japanese?

Dwayne I mostly worked with a dictionary and I would ask people. So it was almost like I was teaching myself as if there were no textbooks available. I, I did have one, a textbook, but I didn’t find it very useful. So I would just ask people. Like, the teachers that I worked with, my, my colleagues at school. Like, what’s the verb form of to want, right, like how would you change I want to go from iku into what. And then they would tell me. And then like oh たい(tai), so the tai suffix - I was using English terms – so the suffix attaches and changes the verb root. And then ... that’s how I began learning or teaching myself. After I moved back to the United States and I entered a graduate program. Then I actually took formal Japanese courses. And I started at the very beginning, even though the, the sensei, the teaches wanted to put me in a slightly higher level. I wasn’t confident of my grammar because I had taught myself in such a strange, or informal way. I wanted to sort of go back through the basics and have a stronger foundation.

Sarah And you spent a year in Tokyo studying Japanese?

Dwayne Yeah, yeah. So I’d, I’d been studying Japanese along with all my other courses in graduate school. But because my energies were dissipated, or spread out, it was difficult to have a concentrated amount of time. I had done an intensive summer program, um, in Vermont, which specializes in foreign language education. So it was an intensive two month course. And it was good and it certainly boosted my level, but I really needed and I wanted more practice, ah, specially writing and reading, ah, more academic Japanese. So I applied for a fellowship, a special fellowship the American government gives and I, I received it. So I was able to come to Tokyo just to do that year of, of language training.

Sarah Did your Japanese improve a lot in that year?

Dwayne Um, I don’t know if it ... in one area it did. Um, I definitely noticed, of course my, my kanji recognition and my ability to read complicated texts improved. But, at the same time, I noticed a decline in my ability to speak. Because I was focusing so much on written Japanese and the emphasis was so much about a very specific kind of formal Japanese. That my ability to, sort of, use everyday Japanese got weaker, which was interesting. So I was learning all these new difficult vocabulary words and very complex grammar structures. But they were things you would almost never encounter in daily speech. So, because my energies shifted away from, ah, maybe a broader or more natural sort of Japanese, I found myself actually getting weaker in the area that I had been comfortable before. But it actually became harder and harder to talk because I was spending putting so much effort into the kanji and to the reading and writing part of the program.

Sarah Do you think your experience of Japan this time around is different now that you can speak Japanese?

Dwayne Oh, it’s certainly a much richer experience. Um, yeah, I regret, or I wish, you know, in retrospect that I’d been able to speak Japanese better when I lived in Iwate. Despite that I did develop really close friendships and good friendships with the local Japanese people living around me. Which is a testament to their willingness to, sort of, accommodate my lack of ability in Japanese. So we would communicate in a mixture of English and Japanese or all in English even, in some cases. Um, but now, being able to speak Japanese certainly my experience is far richer and there’s ... once people realize that I speak Japanese, it’s, there’s a sort of um, easiness, or comfortableness - it’s not true for everyone - but certainly I can have much richer conversations with people, or deeper conversations, of course, because I’m able to speak Japanese.

Sarah Do you have any advice for people who are studying English?

Dwayne I think listening to, um, of course native language programs. But finding issues and ideas that are really stimulating to them. It’s very easy to get trapped or circulated just within, sort of, everyday scenarios or ideas. So finding things that you’re deeply interested in, in any language and then finding sources in the target language, in English in this case. So that your mind is stimulated by the ideas that you’re encountering. Because then there seems to be more of a, a reason to learn new vocabulary, learn those grammar structures. I’ve found this to be true for me for language acquisition. So I think that’s something that often is overlooked, especially in lower level, um, language instruction. But finding things, you know, if you’re learning English, seeking out the things that really excite you and stimulate some creative thought. Right, so whether you’re interested in literature, or television production or politics, whatever the thing, the case may be, then researching that, because that will definitely allow you to hold onto what you’re learning, the English that you’re learning much better, because you’ve got a vested interest, right, you’re really connected to what you’re studying.


in retrospect = idiom = when looking back on a past event or situation; with hindsight

a vested interest = a personal reason for wanting sth to happen, especially because you get some advantage from it

fellowship = an award of money to a graduate student to allow them to continue their studies or to do research (a kind of scholarship)


today's news

today's STICK NEWS pictures


show start
artist: BrunoXe
album: aprendiendo desde 2004
track: Mandrake
from: Jerez, Spain
album at Jamendo
artist at Jamendo
artist site

the snow report start
artist: Olga Scotland
album: Scotland Yard
track: Absolute
from: Moscow, Russia
album at Jamendo
artist at Jamendo
artist site

cws start
artist: San Sebastian
track: Happy Sad
artist site

qa start
artist: ioeo
album: Groovetracks
tracks: groovetracks ending
from: Saint Raphael, France
album at Jamendo
artist at Jamendo
artist site

qa bgm
artist: NarNaoud
album: Green Vision
track: Dubbing Rules
from: Gironde, France
artist at Jamendo
album at Jamendo
artist site

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