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09

28

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QW 092712 “Alter ego”

Last night’s online English lesson was a bit different than usual. Or it could be usual considering what the tutor and I are always like during lessons. Recently, I often reserve a class with a female tutor who’s raising her son at home. She’s a busy but caring working mother, to whom I’d really like to pay my sincere respect. She’s a competent English tutor whose English proficiency is superb, as well as a good listener. Whenever I take her classes, it’s usually the case with me to digress dramatically from what I had planned to do with the tutor for a class.

Last night we talked about blogging and tweeting. I had already told her that I’ve been blogging and tweeting in English as part of my English learning, and she had read several of my blog posts. I was very flattered when she mentioned that my writing skills are as good as those of my speaking, saying that those who can speak fluently don’t necessarily have solid writing skills. Anyway, though, she typed this keyword for me for the record in the chat box on Skype; alter ego.

Alter ego is “a second self, or another aspect of one's self” according to Dictionary.com The keyword rang my bell as soon as it popped out of her mouth. Oh yes, whenever I tweet or Quick Write in English, it’s technically “me” who writes those postings, but it’s just not exactly what I am. It feels like I’m being someone else, “alter ego” so to speak, and the “someone” directs me to write something. Have you ever had such a feeling? I think you have.

Anything I write or read in the blogosphere or twitterverse must be elaborate or random products of those alter egos. I could be lying if I said I have no interest in knowing what lies beneath all those alter egos of the people I know online. At the same time, though, I’m trying to be convinced that I’m already super-fortunate to be able to get to know my favorite people online through their alter egos. I would cherish them as if I were looking at beautiful indigenous wild flowers, knowing full well that I’d definitely spoil them and lose them forever if I did otherwise.

(40 minutes / 381 words)

I've read the article for the first time a long while. It's a good read.
http://www.themillions.com/2011/07/embracing-the-other-i-am-or-how-walt-whitman-saved-my-life.html

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09

21

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QW 092112 “Small progress”

I’m writing this QW piece while playing back this morning’s Skype lesson recorded. During the lesson, I realized that I was taking a fairly good control of my intonation and speech rate that I’ve been working on for a month, and the audio file that I’m listening gives me almost the same impression, which is nice.

One factor that was conducive to controlling the speech rate is, I guess, conversation fillers like “You know what I mean?” or “Do you know what I’m saying?”, which I recently imported from several second language speakers of English. Those inserted fixed phrases will give a speaker as well as a listener the time to reorganize what they’ve been talking, and allow time for the speaker to come up with what to say next.

In terms of intonation, there were a couple of times when I was tempted to have a rising intonation instead of a hanging intonation or falling intonation at the end of clauses. I realized what I was going to do, however, and hold it back. Come to think of it, what makes me want to have an unnatural rising intonation is that I’m not confident or sure of what I’m trying to say, and that rising intonations serves as a quasi-question as a way to hide my uncertainty.

If you’re working on brushing up on your speaking, with the focus of intonation and speech rate for instance, you might want to try inserting more conversation fillers and hold back rising intonations. It will make you sound much more natural.

(30 minutes / 256 words)

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09

16

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QW 091612 “Apex of your aspirations”

There has been a change in the tutors’ cancellation ratio system of the online English school I’ve been enrolled since last December. As a tutor who let me know about the news told me, I thought this change could’ve made my former pronunciation teacher consider resuming teaching at the school, so I contacted him to ask if he already knew about this new regulation. He responded to me a couple of hours later, and said he has no intention to go back to the school anytime soon. I kind of knew he was going to say so. Probably I just wanted to make sure he’d never come back to school. It could be like deep down I may have wished he wouldn’t come back although I cannot explain what made me think so.

In his e-mail he goes; Having taught you for that short time span convinces me that you already have what it takes to reach the apex of your aspirations when it comes to the English language. It's just a matter of honing what you have now.

Besides noticing the phrase “reach the apex of your aspirations” was new and sounded cool to me, I realized, once again after all those years, that I’m The One who teaches me, and someone else cannot be The One. I won’t negate the fact that I felt a bit like as if I were left alone, unattended, and deserted (hyperbole), being told by the former teacher that I’d need to brush up on what I have now on my own. It was obvious that his words should be taken as the acknowledgement for I have achieved and as the encouragement for my further learning. But it leaves me a sense of wistfulness. I guess most of you are no stranger to such sentiment.

How many more times should I realize that I have to be “the” teacher for myself? How can it be possible for me to become “the” good/better/best teacher for myself? What is this “honing what you have now” anyway? What do I have to begin with? What is the apex of my aspirations in terms of English learning like? Well, those questions are the ones I’ll keep pondering on and asking to myself as long as my English learning life goes on. Yeah, my English learning life goes on and on and on.

(50 minutes / 395 words)

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09

13

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QW 091312 “Such people”

There are such people who’re always willing to be of use for people around them. There are such people who’re never hesitant to be of service whenever needed. Those people do things for nothing in return. They just do what they can do for others. It’s so wonderful that I’m surrounded by such people. It’s so uncertain that I’m one of such people.

In terms of English learning, I’ve been making myself busy, caring for my own learning, to be honest. As an English teacher, I’m always willing to share everything I know with the learners around me and never hesitant to be of service to them. There’s no doubt about it. As an English learner, though, I’m so focused on my learner-self that I’m greedy and voracious in learning from anything in sight and lose sight of other learners. My teacher-self remains silent when I’m being a learner getting at what she’d after. Or my learner-self makes my teacher-self null.

These days, however, there’s this conflict within me. Do I need to have two separate selves; the teacher-self and the learner-self? I thought it would make things easier to have two selves with regards to anything related to English learning and teaching, and I believe it has. This scheme doesn’t seem to be working any longer. As I want to be a teacher who always knows what she’d be doing, I quit talking about English learning in Japanese on my blog or any online venues a while ago. I’ll never know who reads my messages and who those people are. I thought I cannot say anything effective, meaningful, and trustworthy unless I know who I’m talking to. I still think so. These days, however, I often think that there could be things that I could do “otherwise”.

There are such people who’re always willing to be of use for people around them. There are such people who’re never hesitant to be of service whenever needed. Those people do things for nothing in return. I couldn’t be grateful more for such people making me aware of how small and trapped I’ve been.

(40 minutes / 352 words)

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09

08

コメント

QW 090812 “Speak like singing”

The 0802 QW piece that I wrote was titled “A new orientation”, in which I talked about the new focus on my pronunciation project: “I’ll be focusing on my intonation, rhythm, melody, and ‘the vibe’ to realize ‘naturalness’ I’m pursuing.” That was almost a month ago, but I wasn’t fully determined to go into the next phrase of the project, or I haven’t actually seen where and how I should be headed.

Recently, I realized that I have a problem with stress, to be more specific, “sentence stress”. As you may know, the English language has word stress and sentence stress. Word stress no longer seems to bother me, but sentence stress does in some cases. Sentence stress is part of supra-segmentals, more global features of pronunciation than how to pronounce each word correctly. To nail proper sentence stress, you need to fully understand what the sentence means, weigh the importance of each word in the sentence, and render the appropriate stress on appropriate words or phrases.

Besides improper location improper sentence stress, I tend to have an unnatural rising intonation within a sentence. It’s perfectly okay or even advisable to have hanging intonations at the end of clauses. One of my problems may be this quasi-questioning rising intonation. Another problem of mine is that I tend to have unnatural, meaningless, or random sentence stress when both speaking spontaneously and reading texts aloud. I might have focused too much on how to pronounce each word correctly and pay far less attention to more global stuff, sentence stress.

A slogan for the Pronunciation Project Phrase 2 is “Speak like singing”. I like singing. I’m not a bad singer, actually. In order to sing a song well, you need to understand so many things about the song; meanings of the whole lyrics, transition of scales, when, where and how to raise and lower tones, proper choices of voice quality and volume etc, etc. When speaking English, don’t you think we need to do pretty much the same things? We need to understand meanings of the sentences, paragraph, and passages we’re about to read aloud, or what we’re trying to say. We need to nail transition of tones, raising and lowering intonations on the right spots. We need to know the proper choices of voice quality and volume that suit what we’re speaking. Yes, it’s pretty much “Speak like singing”.

Speak like singing. Talk like singing. Sing to someone who's willing to listen to you.

(40 minutes / 412 words)

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Aya

Author:Aya
English learner

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