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

Japanese Skill Blog #2

This week was quite interesting in regards to my chosen skill. After a long time running, I am getting closer to my overarching goals of teaching English in Japan.

Early on in the week, I practiced my Japanese by using my old Rosetta Stone subscription I got before I even came to university! I haven’t been on it in a long time so it was interesting to return to it. I relearned words I had forgotten long ago, such as colour words, food words and occupational words.

I have the hiragana spelling on the left, the “romaji” translation (how it sounds when read in English characters) and then the translation.

くろ (kuro) = black

しろ (shiro) = white

あか (aka) = red

あお (ao) = blue

きいろ (kiiro) = yellow

みどり (midori) = green

たまご (tamago) = egg

りんご (ringo) = apple

いしゃ (isha) = doctor or physician

けいさつかん (keisatsukan) = policeman

While I remembered a lot of these words very quickly, it helps to go back to the basics and relearn the fundamentals. Here is what Rosetta Stone looks like when it is teaching you:

rosetta stone picture

This is only one example of the many different ways it will teach you. In this one, it is showing several pictures and it asks you to match up the words. The word at the top says “kuro”, or “black”. Therefore I would have to click on the black square and it would tell me I got it correct. If I selected the wrong square, it would tell me I got it wrong.

On a different note, another Japanese related thing I did this week was drive up to Calgary to get interviewed at the Consulate-General of Japan! I applied to work for the Japanese government under the “JET Programme”, which stands for “Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme”. It is an exchange program that would put me somewhere in Japan to become an assistant language instructor, where I would help out the resident English teacher. I would basically be a consultant to make sure he/she is teaching English correctly, and eventually teach lessons myself.

I won’t find out how my interview went for another couple months, but even if I do not get selected, it was a really cool experience and I am thankful to the program for even asking me to come for the interview in the first place!

Thanks for reading this week.

  • Garrett J. Bates


Feedly Is Neat!

Today I signed up with a website called “Feedly”. Feedly is an RSS reader that I will use to follow multiple education websites, such as “Education Week” and “NYT Education”. This is useful because it allows me to keep track of different opinions and articles on the education topic. It is a one-stop shop for all my daily educational news. It is quite neat!

The process of me choosing my blogs/websites is quite simple, I just typed in “education” in the search bar and chose blogs/websites that I had heard about before. Doing it in this fashion is nice because when you choose a blog/website, Feedly suggests some other blogs/websites to follow as well. Therefore I chose the ones I had heard about and followed some of the ones it suggested.

The blog I like the best is the one I mentioned earlier: “Education Week”. They post about 90 articles per week and cover a wide range of topics. They talk about current education news, such as recent developments or tragedies, as well as suggesting showing new studies in relation to education. I find this helpful because I am never in the same mood to read about one topic. Anytime I sit down on my computer, I am always interested in reading different topics! For example:

feedly news feed picture

You can see on just the posts from today for “Education Week”, they cover a wide range of topics. From talking about child abuse hotline posters, to American senators backing new laws in relation to recent tragedies, they talk about a lot! Not only does this help me keep up to date on the news, but also informs me of things I would never of learned otherwise!

I’m still pretty new to Feedly so I imagine I will find more blogs/websites to help me in my development, but I’m finding it pretty awesome so far!

  • Garrett J. Bates

Japanese Skill Blog #1

For my chosen skill in EDTC 300, I have chosen to learn Japanese. I have spent many years on and off with my Japanese education. I have taken two university level courses and had two private tutors throughout my learning process. However, this was over the course of five years, therefore my abilities are still at a beginner level. I would like to have spent more time learning, but due to school, work and other responsibilities, my learning has been difficult to upkeep.

Where I am right now is a bit tricky to explain without giving a brief lesson in how the Japanese language works. In Japanese there are three written forms: Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. Hiragana is the most basic form, comprising of 46 characters. Hiragana is used in conjunction with Kanji to spell out words, and is hardly usable for long writing projects. Katakana also has 46 characters, which all sound the same but are drawn differently. Katakana is used for words that did not originate in Japanese, such as words like bus and hamburger. They are translated phonetically and are pronounced “basu” and “hanbaga” respectively. Kanji by far the most complex and is comprised of over 50 000 different words! Each symbol makes up a word, therefore it is extremely difficult to learn. Kanji looks exactly like Chinese symbols but are pronounced differently.

I have near mastery over hiragana, but again, that still places me at a beginner level. Over the course of the semester, I hope to learn the majority of Katakana. If I learn Katakana, I will have effectively doubled my understanding of the language. This will be especially useful in doing simple tasks such as writing my name. As my name does not originate from Japan, it would be written in Katakana.

To learn Katakana I am going to use online tutorials, create videos of myself saying the characters while holding up pictures of the characters, and using my copy of Rosetta Stone. I hope to learn between 5-10 Katakana characters a week, which would leave me plenty of time to learn the entire alphabet. I also hope to learn simple introductions and expressions.

On a side note, I have signed up to teach English in Japan with the JET Programme. This is a program that is run by the Japanese government that asks people all over the world to come teach English in Japan. I am still in the application process, but by learning more Japanese, I can be all the more effective in my career.

Thank you for reading, stay tuned for my next update!

  • Garrett J. Bates

Educational Tech Blog Post #1

Hello, my name is Garrett James Bates and this is my first blog post for EDTC 300! I am from Nova Scotia and moved to Regina for my university career. I am in my fourth year with an English major with a Social Studies minor.

I have thought long and hard about the place for technology in the classroom. On one hand, it is very fitting and only enhances much of the learning process. On the other hand, it is the most easily exploitable aspect of the classroom. Whenever students are on computers, the irresistible urge to play games or to goof around becomes almost too hard to resist. I know this because of my experiences in internship, but also because I was high school student only 4 years ago! If I, a person who wants to become a teacher, can hardly resist the urge to exploit computers, then I can hardly expect a student to be any different.

However, that is not to say that computers are the only technology available. In fact, I think computers (specifically computer labs) are the only technology that I am at odds with. I use plenty of slideshows, videos, and other such materials to enhance my lessons. One thing not often mentioned when it comes to things like videos, or Kahoot, or anything of the sort, is that it breaks up the pace of the class. There is nothing like sitting through a thirty minute lecture, only to be greeted with a Kahoot at the end. Students will often forgive your lengthy lecture to get the opportunity to prove themselves in a Kahoot! Many studies also promote Kahoot as a great way to increase student motivation, such as this one: Case study on the gamification approach.


Photo Credit: Luigi Mengato Flickr via Compfight cc

On a different note, we were asked to give our opinion on blogging as an activity. I think it is for some people and not for others. I tend to lean into the position of it being a chore. However, I always enjoy the opportunity to rant and give opinions, therefore it isn’t all bad. Honestly, I’d rather be writing creatively than about myself. One of my favorite hobbies is to compose story ideas and create these elaborate worlds with many factions vying for control over something. Perhaps one day I’ll be asked to write a blog on that! As is, blogging is just alright my book.

Thank you for reading.

  • Garrett J. Bates

ECS 210: Colonialist Mathematics

1. At the beginning of the reading, Leroy Little Bear (2000) states that colonialism “tries to maintain a singular social order by means of force and law, suppressing the diversity of human worldviews. … Typically, this proposition creates oppression and discrimination” (p. 77). Think back on your experiences of the teaching and learning of mathematics — were there aspects of it that were oppressive and/or discriminating for you or other students?

Honestly, I think math is pretty clear cut in what it is attempting to do. It makes you learn numbers and equations, which I am not sure particularly leads to oppressive teaching. I have never considered math oppressive or discriminatory in anyway, besides the fact that I do not like math, therefore it discriminates against what sort of activities I like to associate myself with!

The only way I can perceive math being discriminatory is if the scenario in which the math problem is being told, is oppressive. However, I do not think that schools are so tone deaf as to write scenarios in which people are being put down on the basis of their race, nationality, sexuality identity, etc… If there are any math scenarios like that, then I can see it being oppressive.

2. After reading Poirier’s article: Teaching mathematics and the Inuit Community, identify at least three ways in which Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about the purposes mathematics and the way we learn it.

One way that Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas is that they use the Inuit language counting system. As in, they do not use one, two, three, etc, they use the numbers from their own language. Another way they challenge is that they use a different measuring system, primarily made up of measurements in relation to body parts. As in, the length of an arm versus the complicated way that English has many measuring units. Lastly, Inuit education is mainly comprised from observing and listening rather than studying from a textbook, which is the norm in the Eurocentric style.