Introducing yourself: In Rome do as Romans do

A sunny day of spring, I bravely made my way to the closest Japanese school and tried to make one of my most precious dreams come true: Stop speaking Japanese like a barbarian.


When I got to the class, there were all younger than me, as I had expected. And all Asians. Most of them Chinese. And as I don’t speak Chinese I was feeling rather left out.

I tried to smile in a rather sad attempt to connect with them. But it was all dead silent. I was cursing myself already for being an idiot. At my 30’s something, I should have known better. I was already thinking to call my boss to apologize and ask him to give me my job back. I am sure he will believe I was “temporarily insane.” When suddenly a young teacher entered the room. Stopping my thoughts at once

He looked at us, smiled and introduced himself as our tutor. When he finished, he asked us to do the same. And if as someone had switched a lamp, the whole room became alive. The youth woke up, and the dead whispers became an animated chorus of singing cicadas in summer. It was a magical moment.

When we all finished introducing ourselves, the veil that had covered the room in the gloom was simply lifted.

And I am sure this was inadvertently for them, but for me, I had just witnessed the power of self-introduction in Asia. I have all these years thought, stupidly, that it was mainly a Japanese cultural characteristic but I was wrong, it is an Asian cultural characteristic.

In Asia, you need to introduce yourself. You must introduce yourself. As if giving the person you meet a rope to not fall off a cliff. And for me realizing this was like a car crash because I do not like introducing myself. But in Rome do as Romans do.

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Vegan weekend – day 2

On a weekend nothing better than a burger, but is there really a good vegan burger out there? I mean a burger than can hypnotize you and make you forget all the harsh memories of the week you’ve just survived. And luckily, there is a such in burger in Tokyo.

At “ripple” the vegan restaurant, where I discovered you do not need meat to actually enjoy a burger , you can find a variety of burgers, toppings and delicious muffins. And incredibly friendly staff, who would treat you as family. They will smile at you while happily serve you a crispy “chicken” burger.

We decide to experiment a little and order a falafel “burger” Oh boy..!!! it melted in my mouth

And as it was an especially hot day, we received a little carton of milk to keep us hydrated. How sweet.!! ❤️

I will definitely will visiting my friends from the “ripple” very soon again burger 🍔 very soon.

Una noche solitaria

Henos aquí en otra noche de luna lunera cascabelera, en donde a mi cerebro se le ocurren ideas, llama recuerdos, e inventa historias que nunca acaban de empezar pero que mueren al alba.

Y aunque quisiera dármelas de poeta torturada, yo diría más bien que es todo lo contrario. Diría que vivo en el espejismo de mis delirios, donde creo ser la heroína de mi historia, una especie de cenicienta, con melena encanecida, y armadura de plástico.

Sentada en este sofá, a merced de grillos, mosquitos y cigarras nocturnas que tienen a bien hacernos compañía, trato de tejer historias, pero las ninfas que inundas mis noches, se niegan a hablarme, y las letras caen una a una como gotas de lluvia.

Simplemente nada desea quedarse en el papel, las letras han decidido hacer una huelga y se descuelgan una a una del papel. La “h” le ha pedido perdón a la “j” y se abrazan como hermanas, la “y” y su eterna rival la “i” se van de la mano. Al menos esta parece ser una noche de reconciliación entre ellas, aunque a mí no me quieran dar ni las buenas noches.

Sólo la pequeña “o” parece mirarme con cariño, pero ha venido su mamá, la “O”, y se la lleva de la mano. Es esta, en verdad, una noche solitaria.

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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