Monday, September 18, 2006

We are the Leaders of the Class

Another Engrish Photo

Do you tell your doctor how to do her job? Do you tell your lawyer how to do his?
Why is it that some Japanese adults feel they can tell their English teacher how to do his job?

Leave it to the pros I say. We know how to teach. We don`t need naive people trying to tell us how to teach English. What is it with some people? Any ideas?
Really it is quite surprising, especially when I think of the above examples.

I do ask my students what they like to do or what they want to learn. But that is different. That is me asking.

I feel I am the pro. I am the boss of the class. I am the teacher. I decide what
we do. They are paying for my expertise afterall.

Often though you get some student who feels he or she knows better. Or they are just plain selfish. Probably the latter.

I have been teaching English for over 18 years now. I feel if you have been doing it for 6 months, that is six months longer than any of your students. So you are the pro.

We need to lead the class. If we want to we can ask our students what they like or what they want to learn. But we must lead. We need to remind the silly students who want to tell us how to teach, what their place is. They are the student and we are the teacher.

by Kevin Burns

Monday, September 11, 2006

On Abe, Japan`s Next Prime Minister

Today`s Japan Living is sponsored by Hatori

by Kevin Burns

I shudder at Abe being the next PM. He is a nationalist and frankly I think there is too much under the table nationalism here. Just go to any sports game featuring Japan and you can see what I mean.

Japanese people are great, but the feeling of uniqueness and superiority over other Asians doesn`t need anymore tweaking. As reported in the local press, Abe wants to revive nationalism and the armed forces.

The latter you may be suprised, I don`t mind so much. Japan is already very, very strong militarily. No one wants to face that fact either,
but you can easily check to see if I am right or wrong. But I am confident you will find, as I have found that Japan consistently spends a lot of money on her military (in the top five in the world always). Being strong militarily in the face of China and North
Korea is a good thing, but reviving nationalism in a country that
feels she and her people are unique is not.

I would love to see a Prime Minister like former PM Hosokawa. He
was not highly regarded by Japanese unfortunately, but he is a good man and tried to apologize sincerely for the war. His apology was
straight-forward and not the mumbo jumbo, things were very unfortunate, that you usually get from Japanese prime ministers.
Of course he was shouted down for that. As well, I think Hosokawa
was an internationalist as opposed to Abe who is a nationalist.

I think more nationalism in Japan is a Leap in the wrong direction.

I wish the country were gearing itself for multiculturalism, another
fact that in usual Japanese style is creeping up on everyone. You
routinely hear"Gaijin ga ippai," literally, "We are full of foreigners."
The populace is clearly uncomfortable with multiculturalism, yet Canada and
other countries that are multicultural are very successful. The government
should be pointing that out. The government would be the first to admit that
Japan needs new ideas. Who better to get it from than the people of the world.

The government should be doing more to promote
biculturalism and multiculturalism because whether they want to
face it or not, it is slowly becoming a reality here.

Better face it sooner rather than later, and have to deal with race
riots and things like that. A good friend of mine taught at a
North Korean school in Saitama. He was often saddened at how he
heard the students were treated outside of the school by Japanese.
These were children. If Japanese can treat children so badly,
something needs to be done, and more nationalism is not the answer.
Understanding and promoting tolerance of other cultures is.

Would love to hear yours and others thoughts on Abe, who will most
likely be our next prime minister.


How to be a Japan Apologist

The 100th Japan Apologist to read this article recieves the fabulous gift below!

by Kevin Burns

You`re asking hey, Kev, how do I become a Japan Apologist too? I really wanna know!

Well guys, adopt the attitude that you are guests in Japan and you are halfway there.

This is not your earth. The whole world is not your oyster. Even though you pay
taxes, and devote your sweat providing services for Japanese people, be it teaching

English, translation or other work, you are a guest here. Adopt this attitude
and you start to feel like you have no rights. Get the picture?

Yah I guess so.

Next, anytime anyone criticizes Japan, no matter how valid, you do your best to refute it. If you have no basis to refute it, the best strategy is to bring up
another country that is doing something or has done something naughty too.
The old try to distract them with new information bit.

Got it. Like someone says, "natto tastes like dog vomit." I say, now natto
is a nutritious snack and good for the whole family.

Yes indeedy, you are on your way to being a Japan apologist. Good.
Let`s say someone says, hey Japan doesn`t acknowledge her wartime history and attempts to whitewash it. You can`t ignore it.
You are a Japan Apologist afterall, you have to refute it. But you know you can`t because it is true. So what do you do?

You bring up China or another country that has done rotten things too?

That`s right! You talk about how China has invaded Tibet
and doesn`t even treat her own people very well. You lull the Japan attacker into a state of Sinobabble. This often works. Then the topic becomes China. Until someone calls you on it and says, hey, what about Japan man? If they bring up negatives about
Japan again, you start talking about how you love the cherry blossoms in the springtime, and isn`t Kittychan so cute. Things like that. It is tough to criticize
a cherry blossom or Kittychan. So this can stop them in their tracks.

Let`s say someone says, "Hey Kev, Japanese won`t let me rent an apartment man."
You say, maybe you stink.
Or would you rent an apartment to a guy who can`t speak English?

"But Kev my girlfriend speaks Japanese and she can speak for me."

But the landlord may not want the hastle.

"True Kev but it is racism."

No it isn`t racism or no more so than in Canada. Why do you always see
the negative? What about China man?

"But Kev the UN has declared Japan racist."

UN spew N, who the hell are they. Even George Bush thinks they are irrelevant.

I didn`t think Bush even knew who the UN was? But okay I`m getting it. Do your best to argue, then distract. Act like you don`t belong -- you are a guest. Japan is perfect. You are not. You have no right to criticize. I think I understand.

Congratulations, you are the 100th Japan Apologist. You get our fabulous prize
above, courtesy of Glory a Japanese company.

Thank you, this is a real honour.

The honour is mine.