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  • kimuchee 2:26 pm on December 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , different languages, , , language,   

    Lessons Learned 

    1) Communication is an amazing thing.

    Being in a country that speaks a language with absolutely no connection to yours except a couple of loan words can be quite a frustrating experience. I took understanding a person and having a person understand me for granted. It sounds silly but the fact that you can understand me now and the ideas that I am trying to portray is a beautiful thing. But when someone finally does understand me I get this ridiculous elation. It’s like my eyes have just been opened to the fact that the human species is amazing. That there are different languages and cultures is amazing. I wish I could find words that could express this enlightenment properly but unfortunately I wasn’t gifted with the power of eloquence.

    While on this trip I’ve also had a new-found respect for those people from non-English countries that attend our school, whether it be for a semester or four years. Talking about complicated concepts in a language that you were not born with is no joke!

    2) Distance makes the Heart grow fonder.

    This has proven to be true throughout my college experience in regards to my family and has proven to be even more true in Japan where I am away from my family and friends. I have resolved to go back and really make sure to treasure those bonds that I do have and to put effort into every relationship that I engage in.

    3) Try everything, even when it makes you queasy.

    My first adventure with queasy inducing food in japan has been with natto. Natto is essentially fermented beans with soy sauce. I had been warned about the dish and had been crazy to try it ever since. Of course it was everything  they said it would be. Stinky and Cheese link. I was told then that it is and acquired taste and most Japanese young people don’t like it. Needless to say I didn’t like the food but my host family found pleasure in my willingness to try out new foods. My second adventure was with a dish called Sukiyaki. This dish consists of meat (usually thinly sliced beef) which is slowly cooked or simmered at the table, alongside tofu, cabbage, mushrooms, and other miscellaneous delicious things. It doesn’t sound bad does it? Imagine my surprise when my host family proceeded to show me how to eat it. I  could feel my eyes getting nigger as they went on to scramble a raw egg in their bowl and dip the meat and vegetables in before eating them. That had to be one of my biggest adventures and I was well rewarded for my effort! It was absolutely delicious!!! I just couldn’t think too much about the fact that I was eating raw egg or I would start to feel queasy.

    4) Traveling is beautiful.

    There are of course difficult times that you experience when traveling but for all of those experiences there are three times as much wonderful experiences. After a while you even being to appreciate the tough times because they make the wonderful times stand out even more. You meet all kinds of people as well! I can’t ever see myself getting tired of the thrill that comes from traveling.

    5) Japanese is hard.

    Of course I knew this before my trip to Japan but studying Japanese and being fluent in Japanese are two completely different things, but on this trip I have come to realize that becoming fluent in Japanese is now a goal in my life. It is something that I wish to pursue no matter what career I ultimately end up choosing. The director of JCMU told us in our opening ceremony that the way you can tell if you have become fluent in a language is if you can understand their jokes. Not only do you understand the grammar, and vocabulary, but you understand the culture behind the joke as well. This is the measurement that I wish to abide by. Until I can understand jokes in Japanese I don’t want to stop learning it!

     
  • sallyintaiwan 4:14 am on December 12, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , language, , ,   

    Pleco 

    I call my itouch—specifically the Pleco App—最好的朋友 (best friend.) My Taiwanese friends think this is funny, but truly I don’t know what I would do with out this dictionary app where I can look up and translations in English, Chinese characters, or even using Pinyin, a phonetic guide to Chinese (and I can use traditional characters, the writing system used in Taiwan, instead of simplified which is used on the Mainland.) It’s useful in language exchange, almost all the homework I do, chatting with Taiwanese friends, or when I am alone and a word pops into my head I’d like to look up. It can sometimes be difficult to get correct translations from English to Chinese on certain apps or sites but Pleco, while it occasionally steers me wrong, usually gives me the most colloquial words, including noting which word are more appropriate in Taiwan, instead of Mainland China. I’ve actually been somewhat of a walking advertisement for the app as most of my friends, unless they already had the app, quickly added it upon seeing just how essential, not merely useful, it can be. Thank you Pleco! You’ve saved many a conversation.

     
  • kimuchee 1:12 pm on December 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , language,   

    Challenge 8! 

    The one application that I know I could not live with out at this point is MIDORI.

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    Midori is a Japanese-English library application. It costs $9.99. Why should you buy this particular $10 application you ask? It is the best out there so far that I have tried out. Not only does this application let you search for a word in English and Japanese (hiragana, kanji, and romaji) this application allows you to draw the kanji in order to find out its meaning!!!

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    I literally can’t even begin to describe how 便利 (convenient) and life saving this application is! It has saved me countless times when I was talking with my host family and friends or simply trying to order something at a restaurant. (It’s all in kanji I can’t read!) It is a MUST for every student studying Japanese. Seriously.

    And on top of all of this it also gives you the stroke order of the kanji, flash cards to test your kanji with AND the conjugation of verbs. As a student of Japanese conjugation is one part of the grammar that I have a lot of trouble with so it was very reassuring to know that I could just go on my i-pod real quick to check that I conjugated the verb correctly. I can’t even begin to describe how excited I was to find out that there was even such an app that existed! I did none of my homework without it and had my i-pod on me at all times.

    Another really cool aspect of this app is that it also provides example sentences in which the word you are searching for appears.

    And last but not least it: this app requires no internet connection! I know your minds are absolutely blown right?! Don’t worry I understand. Mine was too.

    For anyone going abroad to Japan next year:  Before buying a suitcase, before getting a plane ticket, BUY THIS APP!!! I could go on and on about how awesome this app is, but please, rather than listening to me babble, go get it!

     

     
  • at5203 4:17 pm on December 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , language, ,   

    Challenge eight 

    Before coming to Vietnam I tried to find videos on youtube that could help me say basic phrases.  At first it took me an hour just to say simple things like, “thank you, no problem, your welcome, and where is the bathroom”. However, once I came to Vietnam I realized that there are at least three different Vietnamese dialects, the northern, southern, and central accents. I was watching a youtuber named “Learn Vietnamese” and she does a great job in pronouncing words, slowly.  She teaches her subscribers the Northern dialect which is considered “the original” accent and it was also the dialect that I learned in class.

    An app that I found useful was “Vietnamese dictionary box- Tu Dien“.  This particular application is great because it has pictures and clear definitions.  In addition, Vietnamese is a tonal language that has 6 different tones that are extremely hard to type in your ipod.  There are many words that are spelled the same but have different accents that change the definition.  For example, ban can mean friend, table, busy, or dirty depending on your pronunciation.  This app does a good job incorporating the different tones without confusing the reader.  Once, this app helped me communicate with a lady across the street my guesthouse and I managed to have a decent conversation about her kids and husband.

     
    • Judy 11:34 am on December 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      TAylor I have enjoyed reading your posts. This particular entry is beautiful. It made me smile. Judy.

  • DougReilly 6:21 pm on December 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , language,   

    Challenge Eight: Favorite App 

    What’s your favorite iTouch App, and how did it help you this semester?

    One of the primary goals of the Asiapod initiative is to explore the usefulness (or not!) of mobile technologies to facilitate language learning while students are on the move.

    Asiapod bloggers: your challenge this week is to share one application or “app” that you have found particularly helpful in the five months(can you believe it?) that you’ve carried the iTouch. A particular dictionary? Virtual flashcards? Videos via Youtube? The summer period is specifically included, as we are equally interested in stories of travel preparations as navigations of your new environs. Imagine your potential readership as students planning to follow in your footsteps next semester; a few sentences summarizing the app’s functionality and value will do the trick.

    Has the iTouch been irrelevant? If so, any particular reason? These stories are important as well.

     
  • globalkiwi 8:51 am on November 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , language   

    Challenge #2: Signs! 

    A sign in the Foreign Language Institute (FLI)

    I have seen this sign in the building building that I have 2 classes, lunch and sometimes dinner in. While I can understand what is says, I didn’t understand why it needed to be said, until now. It is in the administrative building of the Foreign Language Institute. They encourage (or require)  non-native English speakers to speak English as well as non-native ones. It is immensely valuable in Korea to be able to speak English especially at the university level.

     
  • appelsina7 6:51 am on November 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , identity, language, , , ,   

    New 

    Getting places in a new city is always an adventure. Especially when you don’t speak the native language very well. Usually, in the beginning it involves writing addresses down on napkins and other scraps of paper, so that you can give it to the taxi driver without having to communicate very much. After being here for almost two months, I have become more confident of my ability to communicate an address to a taxi driver or negotiate a price with a “xe om” driver (man you pay to give you a ride on his motorbike). Getting to my internship meeting for the first time was more eventful that I would have liked, especially on an early Monday morning. I have started to enjoy trying out my broken Vietnamese with taxi drivers and on this morning in particular, my driver asked the typical initial questions like “where are you from?” but then skipped a few and went right to “Do you have a boyfriend?” I was happy that I picked up the words but surprised by the forwardness of his question. I replied that I did have a boyfriend and he asked his nationality, either Vietnamese or American. Not sure where the conversation was going at this point, I answered that he is American and the taxi driver wanted to know why he did not come with me to Vietnam? It was an unusual exchange and one that ended up sticking with me, especially after my taxi driver admitted to not knowing the way. So I led him to the street, paid and got out of the cab thinking that it would be easy to find my way. I ended up not being able to find it and I asked a well-dressed elderly man who did not know the way but asked around and taking my arm led me to the address. He was very sweet and I was excited to discover that he spoke French (he was the first Vietnamese man of the older generation who I encountered speaking French). He led me carefully through the early morning traffic, giving my arm little tugs when he thought I was going to walk in front of a moving vehicle, in my eagerness to be on the sidewalk again.

    Even at home I enjoy trying new foods and being in Vietnam has made me much more adventurous. Just the other day I tried snake and on another occasion, my roommate came home very excited about some wedding cake that her friend gave her. Curious, I watched as she unpacked two plastic bags of this sticky looking green and brow gelatin looking substance. She explained that it was wedding cake made of rice from the hai phong province; the cake is called banh phu the banh com. She ate it by pulling the dark green layer from the tan layer or the whitish layer (there were two different types of the cake). So I tried some and it tasted like mildly sweet rice jelly goo. I am not a fan and happily let my roommate devour the bags of cake.

    Themes have started to present themselves now that I have been here for two months. One of these is the problems that are created by the Vietnamese attempting to straddle their traditional culture and their desire to be modern. Stemming from their traditional belief that, “we are all one,” the Vietnamese continue to live by this idea. When Vietnam was still organized in Villages, people could not exist outside of their community. Not belonging to a village meant being homeless, not connected to any place or to any one. As a result, people in their villages demonstrated and follow the unique cultural expressions of their village. People, outside of their village, were identified by it but within their community they were recognized as individuals. People ask you where you are from so they can discover who you are, defined by the village you belong to, their communal traditions and beliefs, to whom you are attached. Today this idea causes problems. Location is still very important to the Vietnamese. One of the first things I am asked when meeting a new Vietnamese is always “where are you from?” This though, because I am a foreigner and not from a village, is not a sufficient question to be able to figure out who I am. They need more information, just like I can’t ask a Vietnamese person “where are you from?” and have Vietnam be an adequate answer to begin figuring out who they are. Just like I would not recognize the specific village/town/city they come from, unless it is one of the few I have heard of or visited, they usually do not know where Massachusetts is and never know where Hadley is. As a result, they generalize about Americans, as though we are all the same. Even if they did have an understanding of the town I come from, my town and the majority of the towns in he US are not made up of people belonging to the same political, economic or religious groups. My town does effect who I am, like my preference of rural areas rather than urban ones. I have found that Vietnamese youth, like my buddy from Ho Chi Minh City and my roommate in Hanoi, try to put me in this box labeled “American” and I do not fit with many of the qualifiers that they previously thought were characteristics of Americans. Their example comes from what they watch on MTV and gain from other internet shown, movies and the internet. I am frugal, do not enjoy going to loud and smoke filled nightclubs, or wearing minuscule clothing. I do not smoke or do drugs, and I like to enjoy my drinks instead of just drinking to get wasted. I am trying to show them a more real, diverse side of the “American” that the have created from the media. Just like they are all unique, so am I and location cannot be the only identifier one uses to figure out who someone is.

     
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