My confused brain: On Sundays

 

I wake up as I do every morning at 5:00 a.m. without alarms.

I think I am an early bird because I am neither tired or grumpy.

I am fully awake.

But today is Sunday, and although my heart is ready to write, my brain has decided not to oblige today.

“It is Sunday” it says “ I want to have fun, I want to watch TV, laugh at silly jokes, and enjoy” it demands.

“Only 5 minutes” I reply, and I start preparing my morning tea.

“We’ll see about it” it threatens me.

“Time to work” I say once I finished preparing my tea.

“But we work everyday. It is Sunday” it says almost crying.

“We gotta get on with it” I say trying to make it understand

“It is Sunday. I want to watch TV, laugh at silly jokes, and enjoy. I won’t work today” It repeats again.

So I turn on the tv, and here we are still discussing when it is a good time to start writing. Sometimes my brain doesn’t want to understand that writing is having fun, enjoying and laugh at silly things, even when those silly things are our own lack of concentration and skill.

Did the world end yet? 😫

 

I have heard so many times the world is ending that it is getting exhausting. Seriously..! Don’t you maniacs have anything better to do than scare us all?
And to make things worse, I have been so busy that I haven’t even had time to freak out properly, you know?

That’s how busy I am.

In Japan, we have North Korea trying to nuke us, and then we have these “experts” in numerology and Bible that have finally cracked the exact date of the “end of the world”.

Let me put this out there

If the Maya didn’t get it right, neither will you, ok? So stop the nonsense.

So, pick up the pieces of your life, clean yourself and gather strength because we have to keep facing the same things we have to face everyday.

The world still spinning, we still here, we gotta give it our all with hope and courage.

Latinoamérica: La camaradería

 

Mi vida fuera de mi amada Latinoamérica me ha forzada siempre ha escribir en otros idiomas. Asi que hoy quise rendirle un merecido homenaje a mi tierra linda, a mi gente. Y sobretodo refugiarme en el cálido idioma nuestro.

La vida fuera de Latinoamérica puede ser estimulante intelectualmente y profesionalmente, pero la calidéz de la gente, es algo que no se encuentra fácilmente fuera del territorio Latinoaméricano. Se encuentra amabilidad, gente educada, gente de la que puedes aprender mucho. Pero no hay esa conexión de la que disfrutamos.

Y una de las cosas que más se extraña de la tierra bendita nuestra son los saludos, por simple que parezca, el mágico hola que se da a diestra y siniestra, es unas de las características más propias de nuestra cultura. Y por supuesto tiene algunas reglas implícitas. Ya que el “hola” siempre debe de ir acompañada de una hermosa sonrisa, porque sino no es un hola de corazón. Y si un hola no es dado de corazón entonces no es válido, o peor aún, no bien visto.

Fuera de Latinomámerica, no habrán nunca un “chino de la esquina” o un “gordo de la cuadra”. Ni escucharemos nunca el famoso “habla chato” cuando saludamos a los amigos. Todos esas saludos llenan la atmósfera de alegría y camaradería. E incluso la manera que tenemos de hablar. Sí, nosotros los latinoaméricanos tenemos una manera de hablar que puede hasta parecer ruidoso y hasta escandalosa para personas de otros culturas. Pero para nosotros el hablar con voz alta, significa alegría. El abrazar y besar al saludarnos, es una manera de dar la bienvenida a amigos, amigos que son como familia y a desconocidos que ya son amigos. 

La riqueza de la cultura Latinoaméricana empieza con un hola al dar la bienvenida. Y no sabe nunca decir adiós. Sino que se queda calada en alma de aquellos que tienen la dicha y la suerte de entender sus enigmas.

Bendita cultura Latinoaméricana.

original post: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/latinoamérica-y-la-camarader%C3%ADa-yoneko-shiraishi-

Lunch with myself: Learning to live in the present

 

For a hyper person such as myself, who always wakes up with a to-do list every morning living in the moment is a challenge..!! 

Oh boy..!! And to make things worse, I have a great memory..! So if you ever told me the story of your life, I will probably remember it the rest of my days. 

So ask to my brain to live in the present is a challenge, almost a mission impossible. 

But I am slowly learning to trick myself into living the present. Mwahahaha..! (This is my evil laugh 😝)

And how am I accomplishing this great conquest? 
Well, I am starting for taking myself out for lunch. For no reason, or whatsoever. And believe it or not, as silly as it sounds, those moments with myself make me slow down, appreciate my time and somehow find inspiration. 

You probably should know that I like talking to strangers.

That’s right..! I randomly talk to strangers 

So now that you are here, tell me: How are you? Everything ok? 😉

The dark shadow

 

Today I woke up and to be absolutely honest, I felt angry and miserable as if a dark shadow were dragging the life out of me. I do everything I could to escape this shadow that clings my soul from time to time. 

 

Sometimes, I feel I’ve scared it for good, but it (the dark shadow) always comes back. And I want to hide, but if I hide, it stays because then I become the prey. And I see it (the dark shadow) growing bigger, stronger and scarier. 

 

It (the dark shadow) becomes so big, I fear it might swallow me. 

And it is in those moments that I have to fake strength to face it, so at least I manage to keep at a safe distance, so it doesn’t hurt me or others. 

Sometimes, I feel like I live a lie. Pretending to be “normal”.

People around me do not realize for a moment my truth. They see a young, jovial man, who seems to have it all. If they only knew my dark secret, if they only knew how much energy it takes to get out of bed, push myself out of the flat, to get in the tube, to see people, and to talk to people. 

 

If they only knew I am trapped. 

 

If they only knew I am trapped and lonely.

Just say it: Don’t worry about your accent

 

I always think that worrying about our accents when we are learning languages, it is indeed a waste of time, which will only extend and delay our learning process unnecessarily.
At the beginning, we just need to practice, talk to yourself in front of the mirror, talk to yourself while you are jogging. In other words, talk as there was no tomorrow.

I remember preparing for my first cultural exchange in the States, in the very same way, I would go for a run and start asking questions to myself and answer them as best as I could. I am very inquisitive, you know? 🤓

I know there are many books out there that advise the opposite of what I am saying here, that’s why you might probably be doubting this little post. Fair enough.

But, I am sure you have seen parents teaching their cute little  babies to talk. Do they focus on the babies’ accents? Or do they focus on making the baby talk?

As you could see in that little example, to learn a language, the first thing we have to do is to produce language. As our brains assimilate the new language, we will naturally go into the second stage, which is brushing and polishing not only our pronunciation but also vocabulary.

So in other words, Just say it 😁

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Misunderstanding Katakana

The Japanese language is a beautiful, even poetic, and yet enigmatic language. An ancient language composed of three alphabets: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Although some people might say that the Japanese language has evolved, therefore, now, we have four alphabets: Hiragana, Katakana, Kanji and the (English) alphabet.

I want to explain traditional things here 🙂 so we will only focus just on the three alphabets: Hiragana, which is a phonetic alphabet, made of beautiful strokes that resemble the curves of a woman. Kanji, which comes from China and has suffered alterations to fit our needs. And katakana, which is the alphabet that introduces, or adapts, if you’d prefer, words from other languages into Japanese. For example:

Chocolate = チョコレート(chokore-to)pablo-5.png

Towel = タオル (taoru)

Katana is a resourceful and creative alphabet. Because it helps us understand other languages, and somehow make them familiar. While helping the Japanese language to overcome its lack of “L” sound

As you read it, in case you haven’t noticed in the examples above, the Japanese language doesn’t have “L” sound. And that’s why we replace it with the “R” sound, which we think is the closest to “L” so words with “L” suffered a few itsy-bitsy (very small) modifications:

Light = ライト(raito)

Lemon = レモン (remon)

Although we have found a creative way to overcome our shortage of “L” sound replacing it with the “R” sound, I’d be bold to say that that’s also the reason why we have some problems differentiating words such as:

Play (プレイpurei) Pray(プレイ purei)

And as most Japanese speakers will keep using the katakana pronunciation when speaking English because, as aforementioned, Katana is the alphabet that helps us understand sounds we are not familiar with, we rely on it. Therefore, some people, as it is logical, trust that the sound katana is providing us, it is the sound in the original language, which is, unfortunately, not always true.

And even countries’ names also suffer certain modifications

Brazil = ブラジル (Burajiru)

Russia = ロシア (Rosia)

Mexico = メキシコ (Mekishiko)

I have come across countless students, who become speechless once I correct the pronunciation of the countries’ names. Believe it or not, it is an eye opener.

But the real problem comes when we borrow words from other languages into Japanese language and then change their meanings. As you read it, we modify the meaning of the words we borrow.

As someone who loves languages, I have always found fascinating the interaction among them. But borrowing words and changing their meaning, it’s in my humble opinion, not good. Because aside from disrespecting the original meaning and richness of the language we are borrowing words from. We are consequently, damaging our learning process and our understanding of what a language means.

I will give you some examples to illustrate what I am trying to say. For example:

Complementary service = サービス (sa-bisu) we only take “service” which in English on its own doesn’t mean complementary service.

Transit = トランジット (toranjitto) which we use to refer to the places where we change planes while traveling.

Claim = クレーム (kure-mu) which we have decided means complaint.

It is not only Japanese language that has borrowed words from other languages. English has as well borrowed many words from French:

Croissant 🥐 = the rich buttery bread I could eat every single day 🙂

Bureaucracy = administrative system

As you can see, all languages borrow words from one another. Therefore, it is more than OK to borrow words from other languages. Especially in this time of technology, where finding the equivalents in our languages to all those new words is an enormous (very big)task. But fortunately, in Japanese, we have katakana to help us. But let’s not change the meaning of words, because we will be confusing ourselves creating a sort of Japanese- English mix that only works in Japan for Japanese speakers.

And as a result of all that, we will be unnecessarily complicating and delaying our learning process and, at the end, misunderstanding katakana.

Let’s keep learning together ❤️

英語を習うのためのプラス思考

I know is not Tuesday, but I would like to humbly introduce to my very first book “英語を習うのためのプラス思考” (Positive thinking to learn English”  In this book I reflect my ideas about teaching and ESL,  bringing them to live through Taro, which is the name of the little character that illustrates the book, which drew all myself as well.

I have enjoyed the experience so much that I have already threatened my editor Nick West with new literary adventures 🙂

Thank you-thank you VERY- much for all your likes, comments, shares and love. Your support does mean a lot to me. It really does. And I know you all already help me lots, but I would like to ask you to share the link of my book, please. m(_ _)m