Teaching Journal

教師になれば?

最近、俺の夢を前よりたくさん考えはじめた。もちろん、俺はいつも夢のことを考えている人なので、これは別に不思議な行動ではないけれど、今までの夢は「日本語を学ぶ」だったら、今は「日本語を使って、何をしたい?」という疑問が浮けべられている。

先週末は友達と随分会っていて、なぜか分からないけれど、二人以上はいきなり「エリオット、卒業したら何をしたい?」と聞かれました。それは軽く考えたことがあるんだが、いつも深く考えているのは「とりあえずペラペラになろう!」とか「留学しなきゃならない!」だけだった。ペラペラになったら、次の一歩はなんだろうか。

「もう日本語なら話せるよ!」と言われた。

しかし、もう夢を叶った気になれないよ。もっと大きな夢を見たい、もっと素晴らしい未来が欲しいです。確かに友達と日本語は話せるけれど、尊敬語や謙譲語はまだ利用できない。常用漢字はまだ全部覚えていない。朝日新聞はまだ楽に読めない。小説は完璧に分析できない。今よりずっとペラペラになれるはずだよ。

「どこまでペラペラになりたいの?」と聞かれた。

普通の日本人より上手くなりたいかな。あり得るでしょうか。

日曜日、ある友達が「英語助けてくれ」と頼まれた。言葉順番のことを教えようとしていて、シェフの彼に「文は難しいパズルじゃなくて、和食のレシピだ」と言った。

「パズルは普通に四角だから、北、南、東、西のことなどを集中しながら解決するんだけど、文はそんなに複雑じゃない。文はレシピのように、始めから終わりまで、予算された順番に沿って作る物だ。例えば、ラーメンを作ってるでしょう?ラーメンは、醤油を入れるけど、正しい時に入れなきゃならないでしょう?味噌汁を作った後とか、水を沸いた後とか、豚肉を焼く前とかね。文は同じだ。例えば『I like to eat ramen』という文が『I like to ramen eat』に変わると、意味は一気になくなるよね。だから、『Eat』の順番は『To』を入れる後、『ラーメン』の前だ。醤油と同じように。理由は分からないけど、お前も醤油の順番は化学的に分からないだろう?ただ、これは順番だと分かってるね」話を続いた。色々な話題を含めた。

終わったとたんに気づいたのは、聞いた方が三人増えてきた。皆がすごく笑ってくれて、「素晴らしく分かりやすい」も言ってくれた。

「何でエリオットのような教師はうちの高校にいなかったんだろう。エリオット、教師になれ!教師にならなきゃもったいないよ!」と友達も言ってくれた。昔は空手教師だったから、子供の育児とかはちょっと慣れているし、子供も好きだし、教えるのは楽しいと思う。今でも日本語の家庭教師として務めているので、自然に教師の仕事に向いているかもしれない。何のトピックでも、誰かに教えられたら、その誰かが何かを分かるようになられたら、俺は本当に嬉しいです。

じゃあ卒業したら、日本語を使ってどうしようかな、、、教師になれば?

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Study Like a Champion

I mentioned a while back that I’m a private Japanese language tutor, and some of my students are in high school. Well, seeing as it’s now the middle of January, they’re getting ready for final exams. A couple of them are freshmen, so this will be their first time ever experiencing a final exam. Needless to say, they’re anxious.

Japanese is hard at the beginner level, I think everyone would agree. Final exams are also scary for a high school freshmen; a test on five chapters seems like an awful lot of material. Those of us who are in college or beyond are already familiar with it and it no longer seems like that big a deal, but to a high school student, it can be overwhelming.  One of my students actually looked at me before the speaking / listening portion of their final exam and said “I’m pretty sure I’m going to fail this.” Well, if you know me at all by now, I don’t like it when people show me low self-esteem (especially my students, be it in karate or Japanese), and I don’t like it when people give up before they start. It’s time for a pep talk.

“Well buddy, you’re right, with that attitude you’re definitely going to fail, you might as well not even try.”

“Ok, then what are we here for?”

“You think I meant that? Look kid, here’s a little wisdom I picked up in Karate over the years: whether you think you’re going to win, or you think you’re going to lose, you’re right.”

“What do you mean?”

“Let’s put it this way. If you say ‘I’m definitely going to fail this test, I shouldn’t waste my time studying’, then what happens? You don’t study, you won’t know anything as a result, and you’ll fail. No doubt.”

“Oh…”

“But if you say ‘I’m definitely going to pass!’, then what happens? You put in way more time studying than you even need to because you take the steps necessary to make your statement a reality. If you don’t put the time or effort in, you don’t stand a fighting chance, but if you fight for what you want like it’s already yours, then you do!”

“Ok, I think I can pass”

“That’s not good enough. It’s too wishy-washy. You’re diluting your spirit! You have to attack this test like your defending your treasure from an onslaught of enemy warriors! You have to approach it with supreme and unshakable confidence that you’re going to pass, no matter what! If you don’t, you’ll only approach it half-hearted, and if half hearted is 50% of your spirit, then it’s also a 50% on your test. You’ll still get an F”

“I see…”

“So what’s the word?”

“I’m going to pass this test”

“That’s better! Look, I don’t care about all your grades leading up to this test or how little you know right now. If you put in the appropriate effort, time, and energy, I promise you, you’ll do great.”

“But how do I know if I’m ready?”

“That’s, believe it or not, the easiest part. Don’t close the text book tonight until you know everything. Simple as that. Just know every word, on every page. If you don’t know something, don’t stop studying until you know it.”

“That sounds hard.”

“It is hard in that it takes time, energy and determination. But when you think about it, the concept isn’t that hard, is it? So many people out there walk into a test without knowing everything, and they hope that they will magically know it when the test is in front of them, or that they’ll get lucky and the stuff they don’t know won’t be on test. Well, that’s a B-student’s way of studying. If you want an A, make sure you never walk into a test without knowing everything.”

“I guess that makes sense”

“Darn right it does. Pound it.”

We pounded fists, drilled Japanese for an hour, and he kept on studying till midnight after I left. He thought he got a B. He got an A.

We never really know how we’ll do on something until the moment to perform comes, but if you want to give yourself the opportunity to achieve what you set out for, you need to settle your stomach, heart and mind. Approach it like you’ve already won. That doesn’t mean don’t try hard because it’s a shoe-in. The greatest athletes on earth, even those who know they’re going to win, approach every game like it’s going to be a dying battle. That’s why they always win.

There’s not that big a difference between preparing for a fight, or a basketball game, or a tennis match and preparing for a Japanese test. Train hard, rest well, and fight for your life.

Success begins and ends with your attitude.

Do you have what it takes?