Japanese Skill Blog #4

This last week was a crazy one in regards to assignments, therefore it has been a bit harder to fit in time to actually sit down and study. Luckily I have found a few Japanese related YouTube channels that I really like, therefore I shall talk about those!

The first one is called “PuniPuniJapan” and is an animated language helper. It’s super cute too! Definitely check it out! I really like how the videos start, it always gets me in that learning mood!

Another one that is not language related, but I find interesting nonetheless, is one called “Abroad In Japan“. I think it’s really fascinating because it is just a guy telling you some of the stories he has about living in Japan. He’s a British dude who dropped everything and moved to Japan on a whim. I think he said in an early video that his girlfriend unexpectedly broke up with him, so he moved to get away from anything that reminded him of her. Now he’s been in Japan for a few years and seems to be really successful. It’s just cool to see how people react to different cultures and what not.

This one is super random but gives you a pretty good rundown about the history of Japan in 9 minutes! It’s a really popular video by a guy named Bill Wurtz, so you may have seen or heard about it. Here’s the video I am talking about: “History of Japan“. It is very funny.

(P.S. if you want to see another really good video by Bill Wurtz, watch his video called “Outside“. It has nothing to do with Japan but I find that it’s a song that gets stuck in my head all the time! It also puts me in a good mood.)

Probably one of the more famous and popular Japanese learning programs comes from the website “JapanesePod101”. They have a YouTube channel where they upload a lot of their videos, but if you want to get the full experience, you have to sign up for a subscription. I’ve read on a lot of forums that people consider it the “best” and most easily accessible of all the mainstream online Japanese language programs. Here’s a link to one of their videos on particles (which we do not have in English): “JapanesePod101“.

Here’s one more channel that I highly recommend in regards to actually learning Japanese. It is called: “JapaneseSocietyNYC“. I find this one really good for the same reason as the others, just that it is explained really well.

I think the best approach when learning Japanese from YouTube or any other online source, is to have many different channels at your disposal. Try to mix it up not only to hear different people pronouncing words, but also to hear different perspectives and different ways of remembering.

In Language news, I’ve been working on particles lately, which are basically like sounds that indicate the tense/subject of the sentence (as well as other things). They are often written between words. For example:

わたしゲレットです。= I am Garrett.

If we separate it down into chunks we can identify the particle.

I start off by saying

わたし (watashi) = Me referencing myself, or in English, the word “I”

Then I use the particle (wa) which indicates that I am the subject of the sentence. It connects me saying watashi (I) to my name in Japanese ゲレット (Geretto).

I then end the sentence by saying です (desu) = finish statement.

So in total I say aloud “watashi wa Geretto desu”. Which means:
“I am        Garrett.”

Thanks for reading.

  • Garrett

“An Anthropological Introduction To YouTube” Thoughts

Wesch’s video titled “An Anthropological Introduction To YouTube” is a good, but very outdated video. I should clarify that I only watched the first fifteen minutes of his video, but from what was shown, a lot of the good will surrounding YouTube is forever gone.

YouTube was a great website for many reasons, and continues to be good, but it has lost the good will that supported for years. After YouTube was bought by Google, a lot of things changed and now it runs on an agenda rather than on the community. The trending section often does not reflect what is actually trending on YouTube, especially if the video is not advertiser friendly. For that reason alone, I recognize that YouTube is a company, and not a tool for humanity. Censorship and false-copyright-flagging has become a serious issue, to the point I no longer trust the website myself.

In regards to the questions asked by Professor Hildebrandt, I have mixed feelings. The questions are as follows:

  1. Reflect on our changed world and the new culture of participation as described in lecture and by Wesch.
  2. What does this mean for your future classroom?
  3. What does it mean for schools in general?
  4. How might we rethink the idea of schooling and education in our networked, participatory, and digital world?

My answers are as follows:

1. Our world has certainly changed, where at least in North America, it is actually more strange to NOT be on social media than it is to be on it. I am among those affected as I personally hate social media. I didn’t realize this class had a Twitter component, and I am a vehemently against it. Social media is bad for people who suffer from depression or anxiety or any other self-esteem issue. I am not saying that I am one of those people, but I can tell you that I gain no joy from Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter. The only social media I will participate in willingly is Reddit, and mainly because it is anonymous. I hate having the fear of missing out when using more mainstream (not that Reddit isn’t mainstream) social media platforms. YouTube propagates this fear, that if you are not looking at this website every day, then you may not know what people are talking about tomorrow. I hate it. I hate that I will end up on YouTube without even thinking about it and then waste an hour. However, YouTube IS a great addition to the world, I just don’t like how it has become a corporate feeding ground. I suppose anything successful is doomed to that destiny. I think the culture of participation that it has created is hilarious, but I’ve never been a part of it so I have troubles commenting on it.

2. I hope this lecture means nothing for the future of our classrooms. I do know that many classes use Google Classroom now though, so I guess it has already changed us. However, I do not think this has anything to do with the culture of participation, I just think some teachers appreciate being paperless and being able to access theirs or their student’s work at any time.

3. For schools in general, it means a lot of the beauty and problems that come with the online component. On one hand, it is awesome when a whole school is participating in a viral phenomenon. Everyone gets involved and everyone has fun. On the flip side, cyber-bullying is a serious issue that will not go away as long as the culture of participation exists. Everything good has an equal dark side. I suppose that is only fair, as having all the worlds knowledge at our finger tips basically makes us God’s in comparison to people even 100 years ago.

Now that is an idea I would like to expand upon. THAT is the real change within our classrooms. Where our ancestors (like my parents) would have to go search a library for any fact they did not know, we can find out in less than 30 seconds by Googling it on our smartphones. Imagine going back in time and telling people that a little glass machine can tell me any fact I want to know in seconds. Anything goes. Any fact, no matter how small. They wouldn’t believe you. And if they did, they would think you came from thousands of years in the future. I struggle to comprehend how it will ultimately affect classrooms when people my age are the oldest generation of teachers in schools. We effectively grew up with the internet always being there. How will that change schools in 40-50 years? How about 100 years? That is the stuff I love thinking about.

4. I wouldn’t want my classroom to be participating with the rest of the world. Sure, another classroom of similarly aged students I can get behind, but I wouldn’t want the students sharing about themselves willy-nilly in the classroom. Teenagers have enough to worry about without adding potential online embarrassment to the mix. Perhaps that is a cynical view, but I believe the negatives outweigh the positives in this regard. If students on their own, on their own time, want to participate in a social media like classroom, then by all means let them. But for my classroom, I don’t want to be associated with it at all.

Ending thoughts:

Let me end this by saying that I love technology and I love the internet. I love what the internet has done to the world (the only world I’ve ever known) and I love what the internet can do for individuals. Some of my best memories are playing online games with complete strangers. I remember when I used to play “Habbo Hotel” with a dedicated group of people I met on the internet. I would talk to them and play with them every day of the week for months.

However, I think that social media and the culture of participation, belong at home. Nowhere near the classroom. School? Sure. Classroom? Nope.

Thanks for reading.

  • Garrett J. Bates


Japanese Skill Blog #3

This week I was extremely busy with university classes so I did not get as much time to work on my skill as I would have liked. I am continuing on with Rosetta Stone and still learning new words. Here are some that I learned this week:

じてんしゃ (jitensha) = bike

くるま (kuruma) = car

つき (tsuki) = moon

はな (hana) = flower

りょうり (ryouri) = cousine

けいて (kaite) = to write

I always find it extremely interesting when words sound the exact same as things we say in English. For example, a common name in North America is Hannah, which sounds exactly like the Japanese word for flower.

Another word I really like because it sounds super cool when you say it in a low voice is “わかりました” (wakarimashita). It means “understood”. If you want to sound like a tough military guy, this is the right word to say to your superiors when given orders. The final letters of the word “mashita” is the past tense of a verb. Therefore, if I were to say the present tense “わかります” (wakarimasu), it would end with the masu. This translates to “understand”. If I wanted to say “don’t understand”, I would use the negative masen, which would look like this: “わかりません”, or “wakarimasen”.

To reiterate:

Masu = present tense verb

mashita = past tense verb

masen = negative verb

わかります (wakarimasu) = understand

わかりました (wakarimashita) = understood

わかりません (wakarimasen) = don’t understand

These simple phrases can help a lot because one word can confirm or deny whether you understand what is being stated.

However, to connect to my previous statement of sounding like a cool military guy, there are actually two different ways to say the Japanese equivalent of “yes sir”. There is the badass “wakarimashita”, but there is the more somber and quiet “りょかい” (ryokai). Ryokai translates to “comprehension”. So it is just a toss up of saying understood or comprehension. To my knowledge, neither is preferable over the other, but I could be wrong!

Just as a side note, “wakarimashita” is often translated to “I understand”, ignoring that it is a past tense verb. To my knowledge, it is translated like this to avoid confusion because in English we don’t confirm orders by saying “I understood” because that implies you no longer understand. You understood once, but now you do not. This is a classic case of translating it to make it easier, but as a by-product making it all the more confusing. Again though, I could be wrong about this, it is just my understanding of the situation!

  • Garrett J. Bates

Twitter Chat Experience

This week we were tasked with participating in a Twitter chat! I have never attempted to participate in one before this class, as I did not know they existed! I was, and in some regards still am, confused about how they worked. On February 4th I put a question into the #engchat (which is an English teachers chat), which was “How do you get students invested in books?” I didn’t expect an answer because it seemed as though no one was participating, but instead I got a really good answer:

“Read to them. High interest, higher than their level books. Relate the characters to their lives. Put them in the story, “What would you do?” Leave them hanging in critical situations, change the story and add suspense. Let them love a story without doing the work themselves.”

I think his suggestions are really strong, as relating stories to peoples real lives is absolutely critical when teaching a novel. His idea of “What would you do?” being the most important of them all. When we can engage students and get them to relate stories to their own lives, a sort of bond is created with the novel without them having to force themselves into liking the book. I subscribe to the belief that people generally want to talk about themselves, so when a novel study can be a gateway to that, it will turn out really well!

Twitter chat is extremely interesting and can be a great avenue for teachers to connect to other teachers! Thanks for reading my blog once again.

  • Garrett J. Bates