QW 073112 “Everything in its place”

Last Friday was supposed to be the day when I could’ve ecstatically celebrated the completion of the spring semester of the university where I’m teaching. It turned out, however, to be the day during which I was trying hard to ignore uneasy, wistful feelings deep down. The night before, my pronunciation project was on the verge of collapse. Well, that’s a little bit of exaggeration, but it was true that I had to confront the situation in which there’d need to be a drastic change in my pronunciation training. Okay, no more cliff-hanger here. In a nutshell, my respected and beloved pronunciation teacher was going to quit the job. When he told me about his intention, literally out of the blue, I tried hard to convince myself that nothing lasts forever and I shouldn’t take anything for granted. I was subconsciously aware that he was not going to keep the job very long, so I’ve tried taking as many classes as possible while he’s available on the teacher slot for the past few months. I thought I was ready for the Day, but it came so abruptly.

Fortunately, his intention hasn’t become reality yet. There was an awkward moment between us when we talked last night right after the serious conversation was exchanged between us last Thursday. As the time went by, however, everything got back in its place. I noticed there’s a slight but noticeable change in his attitude of teaching. I’m not 100% sure, but I have a sense that he’s now determined to be a completely professional teacher there. I can say that teaching is not always fun and interesting just like so many other jobs. He is a great private pronunciation teacher for me, but I have different philosophy and attitudes as a teacher than the ones he has. His decision that he’d keep up the job for a while was something that I’d as absolutely agree with as an English teacher, as well as something that I’d heartily appreciate as an English learner who’s learning the language from this talented teacher.

(40 minutes / 346 words)

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My summer vacation starts in just TWO days.




QW 072512 “The Writer’s Diet Test”

The author of the NY Times article “Zombie Nouns” recommends trying The Writer’s Diet Test.

This website tests whether your writing is flabby or fit only by entering a writing sample of 100 to 1000 words and click “Run the test”. More specifically, it assesses your propensity for nominalization dependence. Getting curious enough to give it a try, I entered my QW 071712 “Smart Station Staff” to see what it’d have to say. Do you have any idea on what it revealed? This “smart” gear says it’s “fit and trim”. Is this working properly?

For comparison, I entered the aforementioned “Zombie Nouns”: It says “needs toning”… Are you really sure? How come a QW piece scribbled by a Japanese L2er of English wrote as part of her English learning practice is diagnosed as “healthy” while a NY Times article written by a well-educated native speaker of English contributed on NY Times is not. It’s kind of ironical that the author of “Zombie Nouns” criticizing people’s dependence on nominalization herself recommends The Writer’s Diet Test, and the test assesses her writing as “needs toning”.

FIY, today’s Daily News Article on Rarejob http://rarejobdailynewsarticle.blogspot.jp/ is rated as “Flabby”.

(40 minutes / 197 words)

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QW 072212 “Getting Sexier?”

It’s been a long, long absence from QWing. It’s actually my longest absence since Quick Write Forum was launched in June 2011. Well, I make no excuses here. Instead, I’d like to share the truly unexpected compliment I got from my pronunciation teacher days ago. Oh, you don’t need it? You want to read something more educational, informative or inspiring? Then come back in three days! I’m just kidding.

“You know what? As your intonation and you accent improve, the way you deliver the article is sexier now as well… When I say ‘sexy’, it means that, you know, people from the opposite sex can be enticed to listen more. The passive listening becomes more active… It’s part of our, you know, I think, instinct. The opposite sex gets attracted not only with the way someone in the opposite sex looks, but also the way he or she sounds. There’s the psychology that on radio before there were more female listeners in our country. That’s why most of the disk jockeys were men because female listeners tend to listen more to male disk jockeys… So there,… Actually the first thing that I noticed about you the first time that I talked to you… The first time that I talked to you, that was my first impression; I thought ‘Goodness, this girl’s got the potential. She’s got this sexy voice that needs to be developed somehow.’

See? My pronunciation teacher is very skilled in learners’ “motivation” control too.

(40 minutes / 247 words)

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My recent pronunciation model is she; Erica Hill.




QW 071712 “Smart Station Staff”

Soon after I bought a ticket for the 19:02 express train, the announcement was made on the platform, saying “The 1902 super express train will be 15 minutes late.” Oh my goodness! If I had heard about the delay a minute earlier, I wouldn’t have bought a ticket. I was spacing out for a second not knowing what to do. Then, a young station worker astutely noticed this poor lady with a might-not-have-been bought ticket in her right hand, and started approaching her. He was once stopped by a passenger asking which train would go to Shinjuku the fastest, replied nicely, and started talking to me. He said, “Are you going to take a Tokkai (special rapid service train), instead?” with a smile. I asked him whether the 1902 super express train would really be 15 minutes late and the Tokkai would be on time, and he affirmed. Then I said to him, “Thanks, then I’ll take the Tokkai and change trains at Ochanomizu.” He nodded and started talking to his colleague on a microphone attached to his shirt, saying “A customer needs to have the 1902 super express train refunded, so can you come down to a platform with a 500 coin ASAP?” The way he directed his co-worker to help his work was very, very professional. After my ticket was refunded, he told me apologetically that a regular express train that had gone a minute ago would go to Shinjuku the fastest. I was so impressed by his kindness and professionalism that I told him it wouldn’t be a problem at all because I was going to much beyond Shinjyuku and wouldn’t make much difference time-wise anyway. When I was about to get on the Tokkai, I once again bowed to him to appreciate his kindness. He just gave me a big smile and went back to his work. He kept impressing me with his smartness to the end.

(40 minutes / 321 words)

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QW 071612 “To-be-discussed questions 0716”

Today’s discussion article: Youth Lacks Social Skills Needed for First Job

Discussion A
1) How can the government help young people like Neets get the necessary skills for work?
One instant idea is that the government offers training for those young people to acquire job-related skills, but I think such training program won’t be successful unless there’d be career opportunities promised for those who finished the program. Besides, the skills needed for getting an entry-level job, according to the article, cannot necessarily be taught in any kind of trainings. Another way would be that the government sets regulations for companies to hire a certain number of youths and assure them a job for at least three years, but it may almost be impossible. Unskilled workers among such young people could impair companies’ productivity and profits, so companies hate to follow such regulations.

2) Do schools in your country prepare students enough for their careers? Why or why not?
To be honest, career education or support isn’t enough provided to students in Japan as I see it. Why I say so is that schools in Japan, generally speaking, are eager only to enroll students and secure enough entrants to sustain their school, and do not very much care about the future of their graduates. Some of the schools have established supportive alumni connections to offer job opportunities to graduates, though.

Discussion B
1) In your opinion, how can we reduce the number of unemployed young people?
First, more jobs need to be created. In order to do so, the economy should be revitalized. Also, young people need to have clear perspectives on future career from their early age. Lastly, parents and guardians should be good role models for young people to follow, career-wise.

2) Do young people in your country also experience the same problem? How is it affecting your country?
Young people in Japan have started suffering the same problem. The situation hits hard especially on those who quit their entry-level jobs in a couple of years after they got one. It’s not easy for those people to get another job with the same level of payment and benefits. The thing is, the more young people remain jobless, the more unstable our society gets, I’m afraid.

(40 minutes / 377 words)

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