Category Archives: EDUCATION

All About Particles ~Live lesson version~

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Konnichiwa!
こんばんは!

Today’s YT Live lesson topic was “All About Particles ~Live lesson version~”.
Particle is one of the most concerned topics amongst Japanese learners.

In this lesson, I introduced several Japanese particles for the beginners.
Let’s check out the particles with the example sentences!

First of all, what are the particles?

  • Japanese particles, joshi or “tenioha”(てにをは)in Japanese
  • Suffixes or short words in Japanese grammar that immediately follow the modified noun, verb, adjective, or sentence.
  • Their grammatical range can indicate various meanings and functions, such as speaker affect and assertiveness.

は: Topic Marker

– pronounces “wa” but written “ha: は”
– interpret “〜は”= “as for~”

  • わたし かずえです。 
    Watashi wa Kazue desu.
    I’m Kazue (As for I, Kazue)

  • さとうさん がくせいです。
    Sato-san wa gakusee desu.
    Sato-san is a student. (As for Sato-san, student.)

  • きょう はれです。
    Kyoo wa hare desu.
    Today is sunny. (As for today, it’s sunny.)

を: Object Marker

– pronounces “o” but written “wo: を”
– this particle を appears just after the objet

  • ステーキ たべます。
    Suteeki o tabemasu.
    I eat stake
  • 日本語 べんきょうします。
    Nihongo o benkyooshimasu.
    I study Japanese.

が (1): “but”

  • ビールは すきです、ワインは きらいです。
    biiru wa suki desu ga, wain wa kirai desu.
    I like beer but I don’t like wine.

が(2): Subject marker

– For certain phrases, ”ga” is used.
– below are the phrases where”ga” is used.

  • 〜が あります
    ~ ga arimasu.
    e.g. hon ga arimasu. (There is a book.) – for inanimate object
  • 〜が います
    ~ ga imasu.
    e.g. otokonoko ga imasu. (There is a boy.) – for animate object.
  • 〜が すきです
    ~ ga suki desu
    e.g. keeki ga suki desu. (I like cake.)
  • 〜がじょうずです
    ~ ga jyoozu desu. 【good at about someone’s (not oneself)】
    e.g. kanojo wa tenisu ga joozu desu. (She is good at tennis.)
  • 〜がとくいです
    ~ ga tokui desu. 【good at about oneself /someone】
    e.g. ryoori ga tokui desu. (I’m good at cooking.)
  • 〜が わかります
    ~ ga wakarimasu.
    e.g. Nihongo ga wakarimasu. (I understand Japanese.)
  • せが たかいです
    Se ga takai desu.
    e.g. Maria-san wa se ga takai desu. (Maria-san is tall. *literal translation: “height is tall”)
    【for physical …continue reading

        

Japanese professor launches crowdfunding project to recreate amazura, a lost Heian Era sweetener

Amazura was a popular sweetener among Heian aristocrats but its method of production was lost to time after the widespread diffusion of sugar.

With the proliferation of patisseries and baked goods in Japan today, it’s easy to forget that table sugar wasn’t always around. It’s believed to have been introduced to Japan in 754 via envoys from the Tang Dynasty in China but didn’t become widely used until the Edo period (1603-1868). Up until then, another plant-derived sweetener, called amazura, was enjoyed by aristocrats of the Heian period (794-1185). It was often noted in classical works of literature of the time, such as The Pillow Book, Konjaku Monogatarishu, and Uji Shui Monogatari, which detailed its use drizzled over shaved ice or boiled in a gruel with diced sweet potatoes for a dish known as imogayu that was served at aristocratic banquets.

▼ An excerpt from Sei Shonagon’s The Pillow Book (completed in 1002) references amazura at the top of the third line from the right.

Fast forward to the Reiwa period (2019-present). Ritsumeikan University Assistant Professor Yukihiro Komatsu, a member of the Ritsumeikan Global Innovation Research Organization, is now attempting to recreate amazura for the modern age. It may sound like a fun and fairly straightforward project, but here’s the catch: both the list of raw materials and production method used to make amazura all but disappeared from written records after sugar became more widely available in the Edo Period.

▼ Komatsu introduces amazura and his research goals in this short video.

In order to accomplish his goal, Komatsu has appealed for the public’s support on Bluebacks Outreach, a unique crowdfunding website which aims to bridge scientific inquiries with …continue reading

    

Japan’s legal age of adulthood dropping by two years, but do teens understand what that means?

Survey sees if high school students know what they can and can’t do under the accelerated end of childhood.

Earlier this month, Japan celebrated Coming of Age Day, holding congratulatory ceremonies for people who recently or will soon be turning 20, the age of legal adulthood. However, that numerical turning point is going to be changing next year.

In 2018, the Japanese government approved an amendment to the country’s civil code which will drop the age of legal adulthood by two years, to 18, on April 1, 2022. However, it’s not a blanket change, as even after the changeover some of the rights and privileges currently denied to minors will remain unavailable to people under the age of 20.

With the transition coming in just over a year, Line Research surveyed Japanese high school students to see how they felt about it, and also how well they understand it.

To start with, girls were pretty divided in opinion about whether or not they agree with the age of adulthood being lowered, with the 32 percent agreeing with the idea of legal adulthood starting at 18 being just slightly higher than the 27 percent opposed to it.

Boys, on the other hand, were much more enthusiastic about reaching the manhood threshold sooner, with 48 percent in favor and only 15 percent opposed (responses from 393 girls and 406 boys).

▼ Results for girls (top) and boys (bottom), with color gradation from left to right showing numbers strongly in favor, in favor, indifferent, opposed, strongly opposed, and undecided.

The survey then asked if teens knew about the specific ways 18-year-olds’ rights will change (with responses from 514 girls and 498 boys). The one most were aware of is that the age at which women are …continue reading

    

Tweet of the Week #115: Standardized University Entrance Exam Kanji Trap

Source: Gaijin Pot

Last weekend, about 550,000 aspiring students took the standardized university entrance exam (大学入学共通(だいがくにゅうがくきょうつう)テスト) in the middle of the pandemic. Despite COVID-19, hopeful students had to show-up or miss their one chance to move on to higher education.

For many students, the test is the culmination of years of studying in cram schools or and preparatory schools, or 塾(じゅく and 予備校(よびこう) in Japanese.

Failing can mean an additional year of cramming as a 過年度生(かねんどせい), also familiarly known as ronin (浪人(ろうにん)).

After exams, newspapers and TV programs share test questions with the public and go over all the tricky parts. The Japanese language QCM portion of the exam is where trick questions hurt the most. For Japanese language learners, it’s also an excellent opportunity to better understand how important knowing kanji is to read and write Japanese.

Tricky kanji QCM

共通テスト国語の1問目から林先生になった。
ラスト3分で気づいた。 pic.twitter.com/0BfhwhHihf

— しりーず (@Series3220) January 16, 2021

共通(きょうつう)テスト国語(こくご)の1問目(いちもんめ)から林先生(はやしせんせい)になった。 ラスト3分(さんぷん)で気(き)づいた。

“I became Professor Hayashi* for the first question of the Japanese language portion of the standardized test. I noticed (the right answer) in during remaining three minutes.”

Professor Hayashi, a well-known preparatory school teacher and public figure on national television, should feel proud!

The exercise shared in the picture measures test-takers’ knowledge of vocabulary and Japanese kanji reading. As you may know, the Japanese language has many homonyms and kanji, which are logograms (often inaccurately called ideograms) that come in to help distinguish words.

The first question gives ぞく, from the word みんぞく, as a reference point with no context to understand its meaning. Test-takers must first guess what could be the correct kanji for ぞく.

Learn the trick

Each of the four sentences below the reference point also has a word written in hiragana with “ぞく” in it.

  • しょぞく(costume)
  • かいぞく (pirate)
  • りょうぞく (good morals)
  • けいぞく (continuation)

The sentence helps find the meaning of each word and consequently, with which kanji they are …continue reading

    

Teen kicked out of Japan’s national college entrance exam for improper mask-wearing technique

If you can’t handle wearing a mask properly, you’re probably not ready for higher education.

It might mentally feel like we’ve been living under the pandemic for an eternity, but the reality is that it’s been less than a year since Japan started seeing significant coronavirus infection numbers. Because of that there are still annual events that are occurring for their first time under coronavirus concerns, and this month it’s been university entrance exams’ turn.

While some schools have their own tests, there’s also a semi-standardized one called the National Center Test for University Admissions, also known as the “Center Test,” that multiple universities use (it’s essentially Japan’s equivalent to the U.S. SAT). The exam, which was held nationwide last weekend, tests students on a variety of subjects, but for one Tokyo teenager it wasn’t the questions that tripped them up, but the requirement to wear a mask.

The exam organizers had informed all students sitting for the exam that they would be required to wear masks while taking the test, and the teen, who we’ll call A-san, did at least show up wearing one. During the test, though, A-san slipped the mask down below their nose. An administrator cautioned the teen several times during the test’s geography and history sections, instructing them to raise the mask up and cover their nose, only for the teen to later lower it again. During a break between sections, A-san was again told to keep their mask over their nose, their sixth warning up to that point, and told that one more failure to comply would result in disqualification.

▼ If kids can figure out masks, surely someone who’s gone through 12 years of schooling should be able to handle them

Sure enough, though, during the …continue reading

    

Tokyo’s latest plan to boost birth rate: Pay people 100,000 yen per baby they give birth to

Critics are already calling the idea shortsighted.


Japan’s birth rate has been in decline for a long time, and the coronavirus didn’t make the situation any better in 2020. It’s hard to decide to take your relationship to the “let’s get married and start a family together” level during social distancing, and while couples cohabiting ostensibly had more time to spend together as they shifted to stay-home lifestyles, the pandemic was a major contributor to another reason couples in Japan often delay, or choose not to, have children.

While gender expectations are a much discussed factor in Japan’s low birth rate, another key concept is Japan’s strong cultural sense of familial responsibility. Japanese couples tend to be very cautious about starting a family unless they’re completely certain they can provide financially for their expanding family. With the pandemic having a negative impact on job and income security, Tokyo’s birth rate fell even lower in 2020. Only about 60,000 pregnancies were reported between April and October, roughly a 10-percent drop compared to that period the previous year.

But there’s a new plan to boost births in the capital: start paying people in Tokyo to have kids. A new proposal would award couples who give birth to a baby in Tokyo with 100,000 yen (US$966) per newborn child.

▼ “I earned this milk.”

If approved, the initiative would run for two years, allowing households with multiple pregnancies carried to term within the period to receive the award more than once. Parents wouldn’t be handed a stack of cash at the hospital though. Instead, the program would award them with credit to be redeemed, via a website, for childcare items and services. The 100,000-yen amount was chosen …continue reading

    

Life in Japan as a MEXT Scholarship student – what to expect

The MEXT Scholarship is one of the most coveted opportunities for foreign students interested in Japan. It’s named after the ministry that’s behind the scholarship, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology — or MEXT, for short.

The scholarship gives students a chance to study at a higher education institute in Japan with fully covered tuition fees and a monthly stipend. It attracts thousands of applicants every year, so while the opportunities are prestigious, the competition is equally rigorous.

With the scholarship offering a life-changing opportunity, it goes without saying that this comes with a lot of things that applicants need to be aware of and prepare for. In this article, we’ll talk about thoughts, expectations, and advice from someone who was granted and was able to complete the scholarship.

Should you apply for the MEXT Scholarship?

While the rewards of the scholarship might seem alluring, it’s very important to ask yourself if Japan is the best place to pursue higher education in the field you want to study.

Japan has strengths in certain fields but weaknesses in others — will Japan be able to provide the education you need better than your home country or any other country? In addition, will a degree from a Japanese institution help further your goal and open the right doors for you in the future? Will you be able to adjust to life in a country with a different language and culture from where you grew up in?

If you’ve done the research and reflected that your answer to these questions is yes, then the MEXT Scholarship is the perfect opportunity to help you pursue studies in Japan.

Applying for the MEXT Scholarship

The first thing to know is that there are two main methods of applying. Aspiring scholars do not directly send their applications …continue reading

    

Those Pesky Particles!

As a non-native English speaker, my biggest foe is the article (冠詞 kanshi). Yes, those “a” and “the” devils. When you ask native English speakers, they always say – if you refer to an item the first time, use “a” and after that “the”. Well, life is not that simple especially in English that is full of exceptions (例外reigai). I did learn about the articles in middle school (中学 chugaku)– there were many uses, but real life is more complicated (ややっこしい、複雑な yayakkoshii, fukuzauna).

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

And I learned that we, the Japanese, have the equivalent to (〜に相当する〜ni sotosuru) these pesky (厄介な yakkaina) articles. Allow me to introduce PARTICLES (助詞 joshi)! We, the native speakers, have no trouble but we have trouble explaining them. That is because we learn them in everyday life as we grow up and not by rules and formulas. Yes, we do learn them at school, but we perfect them outside the school without trying.

So what are the particles?They are short words that indicate relations of words within a sentence. Thanks to particles, Japanese sentence structures can be very flexible (自由に変えられる、フレキシブル、jiyu ni kaerareru). Look at the sentences below for an example. Particles are shown in RED.

Sunny and Paige watched a movie together in Shibuya on Sunday.

サニーさんペイジさん 日曜日 渋谷 映画 見ました。

(Sunny-san to Paige-san wa nichiyoubini Shibuyade eigawo mimashita)

日曜日に サニーさんとペイジさんは 映画を 渋谷で 見ました。

渋谷で 日曜日に 映画を サニーさんとペイジさんは 見ました。

映画を 日曜日に 渋谷で サニーさんとペイジさんは 見ました。

サニーさんとペイジさんは 渋谷で 映画を 日曜日に 見ました。

日曜日に サニーさんとペイジさんは 映画を 渋谷で 見ました。

As you can see, an order of the words does not matter in Japanese as long as appropriate particles are used (of course, some word orders are more natural than others.) Thus, learning the particles is extremely important.

In any culture or country, comedians use stereotypes (ステレオタイプ). Non-Japanese comedians often use our inability to distinguish R and L sounds, and the nervous mysterious laughs to mimic …continue reading

    

School for Sale – Beat Eikaiwa in Osaka

Beat Eikaiwa was the brainchild of Peter Carter and Taeko Kashiwagi and was established in November 2007. It opened its doors for its first students on January 4th, 2008 and has continued to grow. Designed as an English school for all ages and language proficiency levels, Beat Eikaiwa has shown its strengths and has seen steady, continued growth in student numbers and revenue since its inception. Its strengths were its involvement in the local community and its caring for its students. Through this effort Beat Eikaiwa has continued to attract students to its classes and student retention has never been a problem.

School Population

In 2019 Beat Eikaiwa had 130-140 concurrent students. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic currently it currently has approximately 100 students attending classes.

Location

One key aspect to Beat Eikaiwa’s continued growth has been its location. Based in Hyotanyama-cho, Higashi Osaka, Beat Eikaiwa occupies a self standing building (3-classrooms), 1-minute from Hyotanyama Station which in itself is one of the busiest stops on the Kintetsu Line from Namba to Nara. It is perfectly located, opposite the Hyotanyama local government bicycle parking which houses over 1,200 bicycles and scooters. Foot traffic is also large as it is on the main access road to the Hyotanyama shotengai which houses all the major banking and service industries. See the location here.

Future Goals and Milestones

Beat Eikaiwa has unlimited potential for growth. Student numbers continue to grow and the chance for expansion is really up to the imagination and hard work from the owners and staff.

Currently beat Eikaiwa has 3 teachers with varied roles and number of hours.

With one full time employee (native English speaker), one part time native English speaking position for …continue reading