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QW 101612 “Arrogance”

When people say, “You need to be more considerate to others.” or “You should put your feet in someone else’s shoes.” or even “You’re lacking the ability to understand and respect what others are doing.”, they’d basically be hoping you to agree with what they’re doing, or they’d even be wishing you to act just the way they’d like you to behave. Well, I think it’s very selfish, silly, and arrogant to accuse anyone of lacking the ability to understand anything. Is he or she really lacking the ability to understand what they believe is right or reasonable? Is it really the matter of “ability”? I don’t think so.

I love this quote of Oscar Wilde’s: Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.

It's your arrogance that makes you think you understand who someone you think you know really is.

(15 minutes / 153 words)

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QW 101412 “Incentive and Reward”

I’ll start this QW piece by clarifying how these two words are defined in dictionaries.

incentive: a thing that motivates or encourages someone to do something (OED), something that incites or has a tendency to incite to determination or action (m-w. com) cf. incite: encourage, stir up

reward: a thing given in recognition of service, effort, or achievement (OED), something that is given in return for good or evil done or received or that is offered or given for some service or attainment (m-w. com)

Dr. Kenichiro Mogi tweeted about the reward of learning yesterday morning, saying in the world of economics betting paid may be the foremost incentive for working, but when “the act of working” itself has become the reward to be given for a person who works, he or she will achieve something truly great. He insisted that the same thing applies to learning, which means, in my understanding, passing exams or getting certain scores shouldn’t be the reward of learning, but “the act of learning” itself should be regarded as the reward to be given instead. Then you may say, “Come on! Dr. Mogi is a renowned scholar as well as a popular TV talent. He probably has earned decent of amount of money already. We, lay people, need to earn money from whatever we’ve done as a job. We need to obtain specific and “tangible” results from whatever we’ve learned sacrificing our precious time, effort, and energy.” Yeah, it could be a legitimate, and “honest”, comment that any of us can make, but is it truly okay for us to disregard what Dr. Mogi said about the incentive and reward of learning? Is passing exams, English proficiency tests like STEP Eiken, or getting certain points on TOEIC or TOEFL the foremost incentive and/or reward for learning English?

For me, learning English and teaching English are literally intertwined. I learn English by teaching it, and I teach English by learning it. Both acts are equally rewarding; rewarding in a sense that both acts make me feel very rewarded and happy. I’m not such a saint to say I can teach anybody anytime without getting paid or I’m always willing to provide a free English lesson, whether online or offline, to whoever wants it. What I want to say here is that I’m fully rewarded by teaching and learning English. Imagine that what you’ve learned while sacrificing your time, effort, and energy would be of use to somebody who’s learning what you’ve learned and could lead that person in any better direction. “Somebody” doesn’t have to be a student in classroom. It could be anybody. So, any learner can be a teacher to another learner. The incentive that we, English learners, need is the passion to be a better English speaker. The reward that we, English learners, will receive is the joy of learning something new that makes us a better English speaker.

(50 minutes / 486 words)

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QW 1009 “Taking trains”

No offence, but I see no point taking trains for no purpose. I mean, I would never enjoy taking a train, passing all the stations along the line, reach the terminal station, and just go back the exact same way. Some may say they’ve “completed” or even “conquered” the train, but I’d never understand what makes them so thrilled to say such a thing, seriously. What are they trying to achieve? Why do they need such a sense of “accomplishment”? Are there any other “productive” ways for them to invest their time, effort, and energy? I think I understand a saying “Process is more important outcome”, but is it applicable to it, really?

When I take a train, I always have a specific purpose. I have a specific destination to reach, and for any other purposes, I wouldn’t take any train. Once I’m on train, though, I’d try making myself as comfortable, amused, and happy as possible. Knowing that I need to spend some time for some reason in that confined space anyway, I’d enjoy the train ride to the fullest, rather than being frustrated or unhappy. Still, it’d never be my main dish to savor because I know full well what the “real” dish would taste like.

There seem to be such language learners that love taking trains, enjoying the ride, taking pictures of the trains, talking about anything regarding trains with their train-loving buddies for hours and hours. They just love it. That’s perfectly okay. It’s just beautiful that you have something in your life that amuses you, entertains you, and makes you feel less bored.

Meanwhile, I’m walking under the sun, looking up to a sky, singing a song, talking to a super-vigilant street cat, tripping on a pebble, being embarrassed, smiling awkwardly to passers-by, and following my path, with a hope that I can see you somewhere, someday.

(40 minutes / 312 words)

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QW 1006 “SII SR-E10000”

When I tried typing “c” on my SII e-dictionary in vain, I knew the time had come. The e-dictionary that I carry around is the one I was given on a Golden Week holiday in 2005 (I’m using a newer SII model at home). It was my first e-dictionary. I really wanted to use one, but was hesitant to do so, knowing such devise was never cheap.

That was when I was trying to pass the STEP-1st grade test. By then I had been teaching English conversation (“teaching conversation” sounds weird to me now) for about four years, and trying to improve my English skills as much as possible while working there. One of the incentive programs that the school offered was to encourage teachers to pass the STEP-1st grade test. Those who’ve either passed the STEP 1st grade test or achieved 900 or more on TOEIC would have 100 yen (100 yen!!!) increase in their hourly pay. If teachers have achieved the other of two requirements, meaning they’ve both passed the STEP-1st grade test and achieved 900 or more on TOEIC, they would receive 150 yen raise in total. Being motivated to receive another 50 yen increase in my hourly pay, I was trying to pass the STEP 1st grade test. It took me three trials to pass its written test because I was terrible at the vocabulary section. My vocabulary is still small for sure, but it used to be so much smaller back then.

The then-highest end model of the SII e-dictionary, SR-E100000, raised my self-esteem. It may sound weird but true. It gave me a sense of pride that I was learning English “seriously”. It sounds really, really shallow to me now, but the 7 year ago-me was silly and shallow enough to conceive so. I’d no longer need such pride-inducing device to learn English because I’m firmly determined to live with English for the rest of life. If you’re learning English to pass any kinds of English proficiency tests or achieve certain points on any tests for whatever reasons, go ahead. Study like hell and get out of there as soon as possible. Then you start learning English for your own cause.

(50 minutes / 367 words)

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QW 1004 “Ice cream success”

For some reason I quit eating ice cream. By then, I had been eating a small cup of Häagen Dazs almost every day. In fact I didn’t imagine being able to quitting one of my favorite foods so easily. Of course I was aware, consciously and subconsciously, consuming so much ice cream wouldn’t do me good except easing my uncontrollable thirst. And I would often feel guilty when seething the thirst without trying to control it. Simultaneously I enjoy having a sense of guilty and corruption. It’s funny but real.

Is it possible that what you’ve long considered is indispensable to your life and yourself turns out not to be so? For instance, you had long thought smoking was never dispensable to you and you had never imagine living without it, but after you tried getting rid of that habit, yes “habit”, and succeeded far more easily than expected , you are no longer able to remember what smoking meant to you.

I’m been thinking of getting rid of another bad habit that I developed rather seriously. I’m full aware I have to do something to it. I’m just procrastinating, which I really hate about myself. This habit looks really, really formidable. It must take time, effort, and discipline, yes “self-discipline”, to break it. I can only hope my ice cream success will help me become convinced that I can pull this off too.

(40 minutes /234 words)

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Aya

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