A Naruhodo! Moment


Some of my co-workers complain that after listening to mistakes all the time, the start to get confused themselves as to what is "correct" or "natural" English. Those who have been here for a really long time may even get to the point where they aren't even sure what is English, what is Japanese, and what is Japanese-English.
I saw a prime example of this last week.

A representative from an educational publishing company had come to our school to explain how wonderful the new textbooks they had co-developed with us were. Some way through his spiel, he exhorted us with the comment: "You have to give your students that Naruhodo! moment!"

Wait a minute, I thought. Why did he just throw in a Japanese word? Having flipped through one of neurologist Kenichiro Mogi's books the previous day at Maruzen, I knew that the appropriate English word for such a moment would be an '"Aha!" moment'. Although I kept my expression completely implacable, I was shouting "Don't you mean that we have to give our students an 'Aha!' moment?" in my head.

Added to this was the fact that I found his attitude unbearably condescending. Of course we give our students "Aha!" moments. I 'm not really happy unless I see lightbulbs going off above their heads at least three times in a lesson. And no, contrary to what he preached, I never "dumb down" my English for my students; I have too much respect for them to do that. I think this was the point at which I let myself tune out completely.

I'm sure that guy had no idea that he'd inadvertently slipped in a Japanese word, which makes it doubly scary. Thankfully, none of my co-workers were so far gone as to let that go unheeded; some did not even know the word "naruhodo" and were offended at his presumption that we did.
(Of course, I'm sure he didn't presume anything; he was probably completely unaware of the fact that he'd used a Japanese word.)

But slip-ups like that are not that uncommon. Once, after a New Zealander friend used the phrase "sex friend", I shot him a look and pointed out the fact that he'd just used Japanese English. Not one to be abashed, he said airily: "Oh, yes, I'm perfectly aware of that. I was just testing you."

Until now, I've been relatively immune to this kind of mix-up, perhaps because I associated different languages with different physical locations (English at school; Japanese at home) as a child and learned to use separate parts of my brain for each language.

But today, I found myself slipping an English word into a conversation with my parents by mistake. Although they didn't seem to notice (it was the word "airport", for the record), I'll take that as a warning that I have to be careful, too.
"Aha!" moment: 今人気の脳科学者、茂木健一郎氏はこのような瞬間を「アハ!体験」という言葉で語っています。

"lightbulbs going off": 英語でのこの表現は、直訳すれば「電球がパッとつく」つまり、明かりがパッと点くような感じでひらめく、という意味です。

"dumb down": あまり良い表現ではないかもしれませんが、分かりやすいようにレベルを落とすことを指すときに、よくこのような表現が使われます。

"tune out": ラジオのチューナ(tuner)を調整して、コマーシャルや雑音が聞こえなくするのと同じように、関心をもてなくなった話を聞くのをやめてしまう時に使われます。

posted by EnglishMaster at 22:20| Comment(3) | TrackBack(0) | English | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする


Posted by ニコ at 2007年02月19日 23:56
i'm definitely opposed to 'dumbing down 'students'. you are right not to do so. now how can i pull that off w/o people thinking i'm 'kowai', ooppss threw in a japanese word (^_^).

though i'm not sure that most(50.1%) individuals that attend eikawia would qualify to be called students, admittedly i'm using an american yardstick. but this has been confirmed by japanese people who have studied in america and stated that the average 'student' at an eikaiwa would have difficulty in america and wouldn't qualify to be called a student.

also bear in mind the usual requirement of instructors by eikaiwa is the ability to be entertaining. though entertainment and 'dumbing down' aren't equal it often comes to that because many individuals aren't interested in learning in any 'real' heartfelt sense. generally there is some degree of stress involved in the learning process many customers(students?) can't handle it(again using an american yardstick), thus instructors entertain the bored housewife, the tired salaryman, and the lonely ol.

no! i'm not saying this is the right thing to do, and i don't do it. but a very large segment of the eikaiwa customer base prefers to be entertained and leave 'feeling good' having had a good time. learning anything is definitely on the far backburner.

this entertainment attitude is even fostered in the japanese high schools. a japanese high school teacher said, "the japanese board of education doesn't expect the students to really learn anything, but they want the public to 'feel' like they're doing something. so if the students go home and say they had fun the parents are happy."

and in the eikaiwa business the focus is on entertaining customers. customers often tell of the good times they had in the eikaiwa, but in situations where commuincation skills were needed they just couldn't perform. but the customer had a good time and the eikaiwa made money, end of story?
Posted by listen2speak at 2007年03月11日 23:58
You`re all so horribly wrong.

If you only knew the true power of the dark side... But I`m getting ahead of myself.

The true purpose of interacting with others is to annihilate time.

We naively assume that time has something to do with clocks. However, the real purpose of the clock, its utility in coordinating efforts occurring in disconnected locations notwithstanding, is to show us just how elastic time actually is.

Time is not even close to being a constant.

Of course, if you sell your soul down the river, then you will think that it is you who is squirrelly and inconstant, and not the clock.

This is poppycock.

We all have the same basic magical routine human superpower to slow down or speed up time at our whim.

Now, to be realistic, it does take some practice before one can command whimsical control over the innate ability to warp time.

And this, folks, is what is really going on in all of these so-called eikaiwa schools.

We are led to believe, by the Japanese, that they wish to learn our language. But this is all just a clever ruse. They all know that their computers will be fluent in over six million forms of communication (including Bacci, the binary language of moisture vaporators) within the decade.

They are just using us to practice their time-warping skills.

Clocks, computers, machines, chemicals, and anything else that obeys only physical laws- these things completely exist inside of time, with no possibility of either speeding up, or slowing down the demonic march of minutes.

Only other humans can challenge the skills of a well-practiced time-warping initiate.

Pretending to pretend to want to learn a foreign language is a perfect cover for them to use as they hone their time-bending skills to a keen edge.

Those last five minutes of the class that seem to last twenty minutes? That`s right, folks. It`s not an illusion. Time is slowing down.

Now, this does not mean that they are doing this intentionally. It simply means that they have yet to achieve full mastery of their ability.

We are not called upon, therefore, either to entertain or to teach, but to join with our students in a united project of time destruction. For when two minds gather as one against the wall of time, then it cannot long stand the onslaught.

What can, therefore, appear to an outside observer to be a completely ordinary 40 minute English class, to the participants of that class, there might only pass two heartbeats between one bell and the next.

Any question, once again, of learning or entertainment is entirely beside the point.

Achieving the power to obliterate, or create, time, at will, is what is really at stake.

Do not be unwary of this, either, for it is a most formidable power in the hands of the unscrupulous.

There are dark conjurors who roam the land, able, with no more than the merest flicker of their attention, to create vast wastelands of time for others, whilst they themselves wallow in the joy of ataraxic timelessness forever.

May the Force be with you!
Posted by andy at 2007年03月12日 23:19
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