Things you take for granted are not given at all.

I have always noticed the differences in learning environment between the Tokyo metropolitan area and the rural, countryside (where I was born and raised). When I was in high school, it was impossible to buy a foreign book in one day. I was lucky, because in those days, I couldn’t have enjoyed foreign books. But as a university student, I had a hard time ordering foreign books.

First off, I had to take a bus to get to the nearest train station, where I took a train to the terminal. Then I took a ferry (boat) to finally reach the mainland of Japan. Then I could finally get to the destination by train. It took a half day to get there. In the bookshop, I couldn’t find the book I was looking for.  So I ended up going to the counter to fill out the order form.

Still, I was lucky. The book would be sent to my address in a couple of weeks…or months.

Now I sometimes talk to some of my clients who live in a less developed country. They say it is very hard to get a prep book for the TOEFL. When it comes to those books in Japanese, you should forget about it once and for all. You will end up waiting forever in vain. I made one of my clients a promise to give materials he needs in an electronic form. Now he is lucky. He couldn’t get the material himself, but he was able to reach someone who can give it to him. That was another (regional) gap to be filled.


Effective vs Affective

I knew I was sick.

So it was in a sense a ferfect timing when my daughter had a cold and suddenly started coughing. I took her to the doctor’s office, where two of us were both patients.

I had developed throat irritation.

“Your throat is terribly reddish. I will prescribe a very strong medicine for you.”

Now I am feeling drowsy. I am sure this one seems to be working.
When we left the office, my daughter asked me one strange question.

“Why do women like men?”

“Why? Well, genders don’t matter. Some women like men while other women like women, but basically we like those whom we like, no matter which gender. But why?”

“Cus I love you, daddy.”

Sorry, Doc. But these five words are more effective than the best medicine you can think of.

Merry Christmas!

The Inch-High Samurai

I attended a long meeting at work, where I was asked to cooperate in the making of the textbooks. They need revising all the time of course, and this time, again, I will be working on the revision. That’s good, though. No matter how many times I had proofread before the completion of the first edition, it was not complete until it was actually used in class. Now that it was used, it is time to make it better by including the feedback from teachers.

OK, that was another addition to my schedule for this winter break.

By the way, my son practiced writing Japanese cursive letters (hiragana) by copying いっすんぼうし(Issun-Bohshi – The Inch-High Samurai). It is an old Japanese folktale in which a boy who never grew more than “Issun” (just about an inch) went to fight against a villain and won, after which a princess swung the gavel left with her by the villain, making the boy into a grown man to whom she got married. Son was still clumsy and was very careful in writing one letter. His writing IS very cursive 🙂 but that’s what everyone will go through. Very cute letters.

If you have nothing else to talk about, create one.

I just posted my latest You Tube video on the importance of making a contrast.

In responding to Q2 of 6 questions of the Speaking Section of the TOEFL, you will end up using this technique. After all, you are asked to compare the two in this question. However, even when responding to Q1, this technique should be utilized to its fullest.

You say,”I would choose to drive to school.” And in 10 seconds, you will give up, saying, “I have nothing to talk about any more! I just drive to school. That’s it! That’s the end of the story! What else do you want?!”

Now, I would like to contend that if you have nothing to talk about, create something to talk about.

That’s when making a contrast works.

As opposed to using public transportation, driving a car is easier. First of all, if you take a bus, you are never sure when the next bus will arrive at the bus stop. …

Nobody asks you to discuss public transportation, but you can, if that’s how you can display your ability to speak.

In the speaking section, you have to display how much you can speak. Otherwise there will be no evaluating your ability. But you have nothing to show your ability with. Now, if you have nothing, you can create something else.