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This is a topic that I have been thinking about a lot recently. I wasn’t sure how to explain it, but I hope you will be able to understand what I mean. The problem is not the words themselves, but rather the ideas and attitudes that lie behind them. As you know, I love Japan, and I now consider it my home. Like many of you, however, I worry about the future. In particular, I worry about how the country is being damaged for the next generation. Here are five words that I believe are causing the most problems.

難しい
Many years ago, I worked part-time at a high school in Sapporo. I asked one of the women in the office if it would be possible for me to get health insurance even though I was employed part-time. She said that she would check and get back to me. A week later, I went to ask her again, and she said: ちょっと難しいみたい. (It’s a bit difficult.) I said, “That’s very interesting, but I didn’t ask you whether it was easy or not; I asked you whether it is possible or not. Are you saying that it is impossible?” She looked shocked, and said that she would check again. A few days later, she came to find me to tell me that she had found out it was possible after all! I hate the word muzukashii because it is often used as an excuse by people who just can’t be bothered to do something. Unfortunately, Japanese people usually just accept this answer. This way of thinking needs to change, particularly in a country where so much is controlled by beaurocrats who spend their lives collecting large salaries for doing very little work. (I knew a girl once who got a six-month contract position working at Sapporo City Hall. She got told off by her boss after the first day for working too fast! He said, “If you finish all that, there will be nothing else for you to do, so please go more slowly.”)

検討
This is a word that I hear a lot in Japanese universities, but I suspect that it is just as common in Japanese society in general. Basically, it is just an excuse for inaction. By saying that you are doing kentou, you can disguise the fact that you are actually doing nothing. Of course, when you have finished doing 検討, if you still don’t want to do anything, you can then recommend 再検討! Unfortunately, I think that far too much 検討 goes on in Japan, and nowhere near enough action.


Although I realise that there are a lot of good aspects to the culture of “preserving harmony,” this way of thinking is the enemy of change. We have a saying in English that “you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs.” It basically means that you have to disrupt the status quo in order to make positive change. I think that Japanese society tends to put so much emphasis on preserving wa that it is almost impossible to change anything, because change inevitably disturbs harmony. I hope Japan will be able to find a way to make the changes that need to be made without abandoning this part of its culture.

原則(として)
This phrase basically makes anything that follows it completely meaningless. It means “this is the rule, but it’s not really a rule.” It is often the case in Japan that everyone sees the need to make a change, but that one group of people object to that change. The solution is usually to make a 原則として “rule.” This allows people to pretend that a change has been made without actually changing anything in reality.

天下り
We have talked about this before, and I think you all know how I feel about it. Amakudari is like a cancer in Japanese society, and until it is stopped, there is no chance that things will get better. It also costs lives, as we saw at the Fukushima Power Plant last year.

So, those are my top five. What do you think? Am I misunderstanding anything? Have I missed any? Can you add to the list? Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

59 Comments

  1. YU on Monday June 25th, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    Hi Tomo,

    もう前のエントリーにコメント出来なくなったのでこちらへ。

    > I heard that it comes from the sound of the heavy rain; it sounds as if cats and dogs were fighting.

    My friend always thought exactly the same as you mentioned because her junior high schools’ English teacher taught her so at the class.
    However, when she told the story to our English club’s teacher(He is an American), he just denied it and said, “It is believed so only in Japan, but no one in the West has ever heard the story.”.
    As the article(I showed) says, I suspect her junior high school’s English teacher and most Japanese people might mistake “raining cats and dogs” for another idiom “fight like cats and dogs”.
    混同しているだけなのかな!?と思ったりします。

    Reading the article, I was very surprised to know that the streets of 17th/18th in England used to be that much filthy and insanitary.

    And regarding “it” for “a baby”, I think it is wise of you to take that way!



  2. David Barker on Monday June 25th, 2012 at 01:34 PM

    Just by chance, I came across this article on the BBC today.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18550747



  3. YU on Monday June 25th, 2012 at 04:19 PM

    Hi David,

    Thank you for the interesting article.

    > Others also wait for a few years after retiring before taking up the job.

    !!!
    What a dirty trick they use!
    They must have saved a bunch of money with their former job and have more money than they can spend in the rest of their life, but they still want money??
    I think they receive a much, much larger sum of retirement money and pension than ordinary people do. I really wonder how greedy they are !!

    > On 8 June, he appeared in front of a parliamentary panel to testify about the handling of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. But apart from that, he has kept out of the public eye.

    Has he been recharging his batteries!?

    > Last year, there were calls for Mr Shimizu and other Tepco executives to be charged with a criminal offence.

    Why the calls have fell through?

    > There are 16 other board members and auditors who will leave Tepco at its shareholder meeting on 27 June.
    According to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, eight of them have already secured jobs.

    Oh, so, there’s nothing to worry about for them!
    They should give a lecture on “How to get a well-payed new job” to unemployed people coming to Hello Work offices every day!!

    > former chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata will join the Japan Atomic Power Company as an external board member

    How could a former chairman of the company caused a serious nuclear power plant disaster get a position at the “Atomic Power” Company again !?



  4. YU on Monday June 25th, 2012 at 04:23 PM

    > Why the calls have fell through?
    Why the calls fell through?



  5. David Barker on Monday June 25th, 2012 at 05:12 PM

    Hi YU,

    Welcome to the Japanese way of doing business!



  6. YU on Monday June 25th, 2012 at 07:16 PM

    Hi David and everyone,

    難しい
    > I hate the word muzukashii because it is often used as an excuse by people who just can’t be bothered to do something.

    When you ask someone to do something for you in Japan, you’ll often hear a negative answer with unclear explanation at first. And only when you point out the inconsistencies in their explanation, they’ll work further for you and often bring you a completely different(often positive) answer from the first time. (I always feel like telling them, “Why didn’t you work hard from the beginning?”.)
    I have a feeling that this tendency is more conspicuous in government offices.

    検討
    As you mentioned, 検討(します) is a very tricky Japanese word. I hear that “前向きに検討します” is different from “検討します”. And the meanings of “検討します” differ depending on the situation and the speaker. Which “検討します” means what is beyond me. I’m also wondering why Japanese people like to test each other’s feeling. I don’t think we will get any benefit from that, though…


    > I hope Japan will be able to find a way to make the changes that need to be made without abandoning this part of its culture

    I’m not really sure if I understood you correctly.
    日本が和の精神を放棄せず(損なわずに)変われる方法を見つけられるといいのだが、みたいな意味でしょうか?

    原則(として)
    I think “原則”(basic rules) and “慣例”(customs) are alike in many ways. Japanese society tends to exclude those who violate “原則” or “慣例”. So, “原則(として)” might be a useful measure to find out “heretics” and to average them.

    天下り
    Because I’ve made a comment in previous post, I’ll leave out the further comments here. I’m looking forward to hearing other members’ thoughts.

    See you !



  7. David Barker on Tuesday June 26th, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    Hi YU,

    Your translation is correct. I don’t think that preserving “wa” is a bad thing in itself, but it is not a good way of thinking when big change is needed. Actually, I read an article in the Japan Times yesterday saying that high school entrance interviews are going to include group discussions. That will be a very big step in the right direction. Now we just have to do something about the ridiculous English education!



  8. I Love Nutella on Tuesday June 26th, 2012 at 02:08 PM

    Hi David and everyone

    It’s been ages since I last posted my comment here.

    Reading a comment about 検討 reminds me of a problem which GM at my mom’s office faced. As you may know I’m from Osaka, and my mom lives in Osaka. In Osaka, a word 検討 is sometimes used to reject people’s offer, so if you hear this word, you should know you are turned down, and you have to think about the way to get things forward. I heard, however, people from other place of Japan take it literally.

    The GM told a client “検討しときまっさ” to mean “he wasn’t interested in his client’s offer”. But his client came back to him later and asked if he considered about it. The GM had no idea what his client said, because he thought he had already said “no” by saying “検討しときまっさ”, so he’d completely forgot it. Then he realized his client was not from Kansai, so he should have shown his uninterest more clearly. At the same time, he felt uncomfortable to work with the client. Even though the GM knows cultural difference caused this problem, he couldn’t help feeling that the client was a bit too pushy. Because the GM thought if the client read the situation, he should have known what the GM meant to say.

    The word “検討” is quite troublesome. Sometimes you can take it literlly according to a situation. Even native speakers of Japanese are often not sure how you can expect. I think you should follow up if you are told “検討します” so that you will be sure what people think about your request or offer later on.

    Cheers,



  9. rinko on Tuesday June 26th, 2012 at 04:12 PM

    Hi David and everyone.

    Some of the words David hates are often used together in Japan.
    When I was a university student I had a part-time job at departmentstore and there was going to be a show for children.We decided to distribute the leaflets of the show to kindergartens in the area to let many mothers and childen know it.We made a call to kindergartens in advance to know if they would accept that and we got lots of the same replies like “It’s difficult to accept this as a rule,but we’ll think about it”(原則としてチラシを置くのは難しいのですが・・とりあえず検討してみます I think David dislike the word”とりあえず” as well.)
    I wanted them to answer just Yes or No.Because it’s hassle to call them again a few days later to confirm that.Actually we got lots of answers”NO” from them after all.

    As I Love Nutella mentioned, some of the words of this week’s topic are quite tricky and sometimes troublesome for people who are from another countries.I actually use the word”それは難しいです”to refuse something especially to people who are elder and superior to me.Because the word to refuse”それはできません”could sound a bit too strong for me to use in some cases.But I’ve never used this word as an excuse not to be botherd like the woman in David’s story!!

    There are many ambiguous words like that in Japan.
    So it must be confusing for people who have just come to Japan from foreign countries.

    I hate “天下り”,too!
    I totally agree with you that it’s a cancer in Japanese society.

    Have a nice day everyone!

    rinko



  10. David Barker on Tuesday June 26th, 2012 at 06:05 PM

    Hi rinko,

    Thanks for your comment.

    I think the problem is that these words do not have a clear meaning for either Japanese or foreigners. It is very important for Japanese people to realise this. The old explanation of “it’s difficult for foreigners to understand our Japanese culture” can be quite misleading and untrue in many cases, and it removes any pressure to change things that really need to be changed.

    The issue with 難しい is that it is sometimes a polite way of saying that something can’t be done, and sometimes just an excuse to be used when someone does not want to do something. There is often no way for anyone (regardless of their nationality) to know which is which, as the comments above (including yours) show.

    By the way, I don’t think the woman in my story was at fault. She was quite a low-level worker, so I think she had probably asked her boss and he had said “ちょっと難しい.” She seemed genuinely surprised when she went back to ask again and got a different answer!



  11. YU on Tuesday June 26th, 2012 at 06:26 PM

    Hi David, I Love Nutella and rinko,

    I was a bit surprised to know that people from Kansai frequently use the expression “検討(します)”. I thought they don’t like to use an ambigous expression like that.

    I’ve heard that there are some books (for foreigners) explaining “How to take what Japanese people say”(日本人の言うことをどう受け取るか).
    For example, “検討します” often means “I’m not interested in your offer” or “ちょっと難しい(厳しい)ですね” doesn’t mean “It’s a bit difficult”, but “We can’t meet your requirements”.

    Actually, I handed out the copies of this week’s entry to the English language club memebers and discussed with them. Sorry David, I report this to you afterwards…
    One of them said, “難しいですね or 検討します” are no more than euphemistic expressions for refusal”. She added, “Expressions like 出来ません or 無理です are too sharp” as rinko mentioned.

    However, people from other countries seem to prefer to be refused clearly. It doesn’t matter much to them if “It sounds soft or sharp”, but rather they are only interested in if “It’s possible or not” or “You do or not”.

    I think this is again a cultural difference, but Japan eventually(maybe urgently) needs to abandon those ideas of rules or unspoken agreements accepted only within Japan to improve global competitiveness.

    Hi David,

    > Actually, I read an article in the Japan Times yesterday saying that high school entrance interviews are going to include group discussions.That will be a very big step in the right direction.

    There is “a (public) model school” which was found just a few years ago in my city. It is an integrated junior and high school(中高一貫校) having only one entrance exam. Actually, daughter of my friend from English language club is a member of the first graduating class of the school(第一期生). Apparently, there was an entrance interview including a group discussion apart from an ordinary entrance exam(paper tests). I assume more and more school are going to introduce the ways of entrance exam like that in the near future.

    See you !



  12. YU on Tuesday June 26th, 2012 at 06:38 PM

    >I assume more and more school are
    I assume more and more “schools” are….



  13. David Barker on Tuesday June 26th, 2012 at 06:53 PM

    Hi YU,

    My point is that this way of thinking causes problems within Japan for Japanese people, and the question of whether foreigners can understand it or not is really irrelevant. In Japanese universities, for example, “kentou shimasu” is often a way of avoiding action that desperately needs to be taken. Often, the top person is terrified of making the change, so he (it is usually a man) uses the idea of “kentou shimasu” to avoid doing something that might cause problems, and everyone accepts this. As long as this way of thinking continues, it will be impossible for Japan to take the decisions that need to be taken and get back on course to a prosperous future.



  14. YU on Tuesday June 26th, 2012 at 07:32 PM

    Hi David,

    Now I got your point…
    No one in my English club got what you actually meant, including a member who passed 英検1級!!
    It seems like most of them took your article as complaints from a foreigner.

    >In Japanese universities, for example, “kentou shimasu” is often a way of avoiding action that desperately needs to be taken. Often, the top person is terrified of making the change, so he (it is usually a man) uses the idea of “kentou shimasu” to avoid doing something that might cause problems, and everyone accepts this.

    Hummmm…I’m sorry, but I’m not familiar with what goes on inside of Japanese universities. So, could you give me more general examples?
    I see politicians using the word “検討/再検討” quite often. And as you say, most of them never do “検討/再検討” in reality, maybe that’s why Japan always stays the same.



  15. Yukako on Tuesday June 26th, 2012 at 09:26 PM

    Hello David and everyone,

    I think there is another expression similar to “kentou”. It is “善処”. The original meaning of this word is handling matters properly. But in Japanese society it is often used as an excuse for inaction.

    We should have the courage to say to people that like using the word “zensyosuru”, “Please explain your idea concretely!”

    See you!



  16. Fumie on Tuesday June 26th, 2012 at 11:02 PM

    Hi David and everyone,

    Let me share my views when these words are used.

    1)難しい

    When I am told “難しい”after I asked someone to do something, I take it literally: It seems like a difficult task but if I asked her/him strongly, she/he might do that for me. So I won’t give up easily when I am told 難しい, especially when my request is something that gives me benefit like health insurance.

    2)検討
    To tell you the truth, I didn’t know that this word is used as an excuse word to turn down something because I’m not familiar with business situations.
    I use similar word “考えさせてください。”For example,
    when I buy something expensive or send my children to 習い事schools. When I use 考えさせてください, I mean my response will be positive and negative; I might buy that or might not.

    3)和

    Preserving harmony is one of the virtues in Japanese culture.

    4)原則として

    There are some cases that some rules are not good or not suitable for current situation but people have to follow those rules. “Old habbits die hard.” People should be strongly oppose to those old, bad rules to make a change for the better ones even if that might disturb harmony 和を乱してでも.

    5)天下り

    > Amakudari is like a cancer in Japanese society. I can’t agree with you more. Amakudari-system should be banned immediately!

    If I may add to the list, I don’t like the words “どっちでもいい”or ”普通” and ”空気を読む”. (I’m not sure if those words are relevant to the topic or not.) When I ask my sons “which do you want to eat, A or B?” They often answer me “Either is fine.” “Do you like something?” people often say “普通”。We are not raised to tell our opinions clearly, so we are not good at making decisions and not get used that.
    空気を読む means grasp what other people expect us to do or act without being told what to do. I think there is the concept of this in the West too. For example, a wife might expects her husband to do something not saying that to him. I think ther are too many cases we have to 空気を読む in Japanse society.

    Japan has a long history of telling our thoughts, facts vaguely but I think we should change to voice our opinions clearly because our society will become more global.

    Fumie



  17. Fumie on Tuesday June 26th, 2012 at 11:12 PM

    Hi David,

    >Now we just have to do something about the ridiculous English education!

    I want to know what you think the ridiculous English education in Japan.( I’m very much interested to know what Dr in English education think about Japanses English education.)Please tell me about that when you have time, maybe in another week. 今週でなくていつでもいいので。  

    Fumie



  18. David Barker on Tuesday June 26th, 2012 at 11:12 PM

    Hi Fumie,

    >Preserving harmony is one of the virtues in Japanese culture.
    I agree, but it is also holding Japan back because people are so scared of disturbing the harmony that they are unwilling to make changes. Another way of saying “harmony” is “the current state of affairs.” I hope Japanese people can see that “preserving the current state of affairs” will lead to disaster for this country.

    >There are some cases that some rules are not good or not suitable for current situation but people have to follow those rules. “Old habbits die hard.” People should be strongly oppose to those old, bad rules to make a change for the better ones even if that might disturb harmony 和を乱してでも.

    My point is not that there are bad rules and good rules, but that rules that begin with the phrase 原則として are meaningless, so you might as well not waste time making them in the first place. For me, something is either a rule or it is not. I think that 原則として is dangerous because some people end up following the rule, and some don’t.



  19. David Barker on Tuesday June 26th, 2012 at 11:21 PM

    Hi again,

    That is a very broad topic, but basically, Japanese schools need to stop teaching and testing difficult and unimportant points of complicated grammar and focus more on real language. Although this may be a bit of a generalization, the stuff that kids learn in junior high school is mostly useful, but the things they do in high school for university entrance exams are a complete waste of time. A few months ago, Tomo asked me about something that her son was trying to learn in high school. The question was so difficult that I had to go and look up the answer myself! If a native speaker with a PhD in language education doesn’t know the answer, I would suggest that teaching it to a Japanese high-school boy is probably not a good idea.

    Of course, everyone involved in education in Japan knows about this problem, but it is incredibly difficult to change anything, partly because of the need for “consensus” and “harmony.” Which kind of comes back to my original points…



  20. David Barker on Tuesday June 26th, 2012 at 11:22 PM

    Hi Yukako,

    Thanks for your comment. I have never heard that word before!



  21. ocha on Wednesday June 27th, 2012 at 01:53 AM

    Hi! This is Wakana.
    I can watch your blog.
    Thank you.

    I worry Japanese future,too.
    I think Japan doesn’t want to change.

    I can’t find curious Japanese words.
    So I will be carefull words every day.

    Thank you.



  22. Fumie on Wednesday June 27th, 2012 at 06:14 AM

    Hi David,

    Thank you for the explanation of 原則として. I think that rules that begin with the phrase 原則として are meaningless too.

    As a mother of a third-grade student in high school, I was totally shocked to know the problem of high school English education. Even you, a native speaker with a PhD in language education had to look up the answer. That’s ridiculous! I feel sorry for all those high shool students including my own son. I am thinking what can I do as a parent to make it a better education. Maybe nowadays we, parents can tell our opinions to schools on papers like report cards for school. On this paper, there are many questions, like “Does your child enjoy the school life?” “Do you think teachers teach students well?” and we can say anything we want to tell to school too. 学校に対してご意見のある方はご記入ください。1つの学校にだけ英語教育の改善を求めても、教育委員会や文科省などに訴えなければ何も変わらないかもしれませんが、ただ悪い教育を子供たちが受け続けることに黙っているのは嫌です。

    Fumie



  23. ashmoleanmuse on Wednesday June 27th, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    Hi David and everyone,

    Nice new blog, David!

    From the last entry:

    Tomo said,

    > I guess “it” can be used for a baby too, but I would use “she” if I’m not sure about the sex, because I think it’s safer than mistaking a girl for a boy.

    I’m not sure whether it’s appropriate to call a baby ‘it’ when we can’t tell if the baby is a boy or girl but I don’t feel comfortable to call someone’s baby ‘it’. I avoid the word ‘it’ and call the baby just ‘baby’. I bet Stephen King devoted fans would agree with me.

    Ash



  24. YU on Wednesday June 27th, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    Hi ocha(Wakana),

    Nice to have you with us !! 🙂

    Hi everyone,

    >“Old habbits die hard.”

    I totally agree with you, Fumie.
    We know we need to change somehow, but the point is “how”?
    We can’t think of concrete methods to change.
    For example, you can oppose to your boss today, but I don’t think that would solve every problem around us. Of course, it’s better than doing nothing, though.

    I think it finally comes back to problems in Japanese education systems. Those who does “天下り” without any sign of compunction or alway says “検討します” or 原則として” are all “children”(申し子) of problematic Japanese education systems.

    My generation and a bit older generations were taught to be obedient at school.(Of course, there must have been some exceptions such as 熱血教師, though…) As a result, most of us believe that “to adopt a neutral attitude”(当たり障りのない態度をとる) and “to give a neutral answer”(当たり障りのない返事をしておく) are the essence of getting along in Japanese society.
    These kind of ideas sank deep into our minds, and it will be no easy task to wipe them away and inculate a completely new idea in us.
    I don’t mean that we should give up to change, though.

    > I hope Japan will be able to find a way to make the changes that need to be made without abandoning this part of its culture

    What do you think about the Mayer of Osaka Mr. Hashimoto?
    I’m not asking you if you like him or not.
    (I personally don’t like his ways of doing business, by the way)

    Back to the topic, I don’t know he is a nice person or not, but I think he is a new type of Japanese people.
    He tries to change old, bad customs aroud us one after another, at veeerrrry high speed. He doesn’t mind to produce victims through his drastic reforms. He’s prepared to confront those who opposes to his ideas at any time.
    I don’t think what he does is wrong, but I can’t agree with his ways of doing business.
    I know some of Osaka citizens are fascinated by his strong leadership, though.

    How about CEO of Softbank group, Masayoshi Son?
    He’s trying to recruit the next executives of his company among all employees. Apparently, any worker can enter the “contest” regardless of age or career, as long as they submit his/her original visions of the company. When I heard this, I thought he was very smart. By holding such a “contest”, he can motive his employees, let them say their opinions frankly, create a fresh atmosphere in the company(風通しのいい会社を作る), and what’s more, he can find “capable workers” for the future of his company.
    I think his ways of leading people are much more suitable for Japaese people who make a deal of preserving 和(harmony). And I think he is one of the best leaders in Japan.



  25. David Barker on Wednesday June 27th, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    Hi YU,

    I agree 100% with your views on the education system. The problem is that Japan as it is now works very well for a small group of powerful, rich, old men, and of course, they do not want it to change. Unfortunately, these are the same old men who control the education system, so it is in their interest to educate people in this way so that nothing ever changes. It’s a very difficult problem.

    I don’t know much about the mayor of Osaka, but he put me off with that business about forcing teachers to sing the national anthem. I think that Japanese nationalism is one of the of the biggest dangers facing this country at the moment, especially now that China is so rich and powerful. I cannot understand these politicians who think it is a good idea to go out of their way to annoy the Chinese. It would be like me walking up to Mike Tyson and calling him names!

    As for Masayoshi Son, from what I know about him, he appears to be a real visionary. I hadn’t heard about his plan for recruiting executives, but it sounds like pure genius to me. Japanese companies miss out on so much talent because of this ridiculous custom of recruiting only from the “best” universities. As we all know, being good at passing exams is no guarantee at all that you will be any use in the workplace. They also miss out on huge amounts of talent because of their prejudice against women. The sooner Japan can get more women into positions of real authority, the better.



  26. YU on Wednesday June 27th, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    Hi David,

    > the stuff that kids learn in junior high school is mostly useful, but the things they do in high school for university entrance exams are a complete waste of time

    I agree with you.
    I think abolishing entrance exams(for high school/university) is one of the effective ways to reform Japanese English education.

    South Korea’s “entrance exam hell” is well known.
    And I know their English level is not so different from ours. So, I think the education stressing “memorization”(詰め込み教育) for entrance exams is one of the biggest ploblems in English education too.

    Hi Fumie,

    > 学校に対してご意見のある方はご記入ください。1つの学校にだけ英語教育の改善を求めても、教育委員会や文科省などに訴えなければ何も変わらないかもしれませんが、ただ悪い教育を子供たちが受け続けることに黙っているのは嫌です

    Though my son is still 3, I’m already anxious about his future. I hear from many of my mama tomo that children can’t pass entrance exams for a high school or university, unless they go to cramming schools these days. And of course, the expense weighs heavily on a family budget. I think it is very strange phenomenon. Why don’t schools draw up the curriculum teaching students enough to pass an average-level school? I always thought that junior high schools are compulsory education given by the government, and parents work hard and pay a lot of tax. But, why we have to pay double(tax and cram school)? I think if the government(schools) doesn’t provide our children the sufficient curriculum to enter an “average high school”, then they should refund a part of our tax.

    息子はまだ3歳ですが教育費のことを考えるすでに頭痛が。。。
    もう少し大きな子を持つママ友たちは口をそろえて『塾に行かないと普通の高校に行くのも難しいよ』、と言います。中には進路相談の時担任の先生に『どこの高校に入れそうですか』と聞いたら『塾は行ってますか?え、行ってない?塾へ行くと自分のレベルがわかって志望校を絞れるので塾へ行ってください』と言われたママもいました。実話?フィクション?耳を疑いました。自分達の時代より
    かなり深刻な事態に陥っていると思います。
    そもそも中学校までは義務教育のはず。そこでごく普通レベルの高校を受験できる教育も受けさせてもらえないなら税金の一部を返して欲しい。
    橋下大阪市長が以前『塾へ通わせる助成金を出す』みたいなアイディアを出してました。そもそも義務教育の時点でそんなに親の収入で教育格差が出ること自体まったくおかしな話で、塾の助成金なんてトンチンカンもいいところだと思います。あなたがやるべきことは教育格差をなくすことなんじゃないの?と言いたいです。私は大阪市民じゃないけど。



  27. Jyoji on Wednesday June 27th, 2012 at 01:02 PM

    Hi everyone,

    I just post new translation of the blog to my blog.
    So please let me know if you read my tranlation and notice my mistakes.

    Here is my blog link.
    「デビッド・バーカー氏のブログを訳してみる」

    Hi David,
    >Jyoji, would you prefer people to post their suggestions on your blog, or on this one? Either way is fine by me.

    I prefer people to post comments on the blog, because it will be more active to discuss about new topic.

    Hi Tomo,

    > …So, can I do it now? I think you said, “If you found…” because we say “もし~したら”(the past form) in Japanese, but in English, they use the present form in this case, so I think it should be “If you find mistakes…” Actually, this is explained in the book “A-Z”(one of David’s books).

    Thank you for your suggestion. It was just my careless mistake!!

    >I highly recommend 英辞郎 on ALC

    Ok, I will use it!

    bye for now,
    Jyoji



  28. rinko on Wednesday June 27th, 2012 at 01:25 PM

    Hi David.
    Thank you for your comment yesterday.
    I noticed I’d carelessly focused on only words you took up themselves not on the problems of Japan.

    >The old explanation of “it’s difficult for foreigners to understand our Japanese culture” can be quite misleading and untrue in many cases, and it removes any pressure to change things that really need to be changed.

    I agree with you. I also think we should not take “problem of Japan” for “culture of Japan”.
    These are completely different.

    Hi YU

    >『塾は行ってますか?え、行ってない?塾へ行くと自分のレベルがわかって志望校を絞れるので塾へ行ってください』と言われたママもいました。実話?フィクション?耳を疑いました。自分達の時代よりかなり深刻な事態に陥っていると思います。

    I can’t believe this!
    I think the teacher should be blamed for walking off the job.
    ここまでくると、”日本の教育”の問題以前の、深刻な状態ですね

    Have a nice day everyone!

    rinko



  29. YU on Wednesday June 27th, 2012 at 02:20 PM

    Hi Jyoji,

    >I prefer people to post comments on the blog, because it will be more active to discuss about new topic.

    So, you mean here? On David’s blog?

    I must take my son to swimming school now, but I’ll have a look at your translation after that!

    See you !



  30. Tomo on Wednesday June 27th, 2012 at 02:59 PM

    Hi David and everyone,

    Your sarcastic remark to the woman made me smile.(I mean “That’s very interesting, but I didn’t ask you whether it was easy or not…”) Like you said, Japanese people usually just accept the answer, and I’m one of them. I’m glad you didn’t accept it and stood up for yourself. I have to learn this.

    >She got told off by her boss after the first day for working too fast! He said, “If you finish all that, there will be nothing else for you to do, so please go more slowly.

    They should reduce the number of people working there and stop wasting our money!

    難しい sounds okay to me because it is often used to turn down someone’s request in a polite way, but I don’t like the word 検討. It depends on how you say it, but if someone says 検討します, I would think, “Are you really going to think about it??”

    I didn’t know the saying “you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs.” That’s very true, and I also hope Japan will be able to find a way to make the changes that need to be made without abandoning this part of its culture. I prefer 和 to fighting or being selfish.

    I think 原則 means “This is the basic rule, but there are some exceptions”, so I don’t have any negative feelings for this word.

    >Amakudari is like a cancer in Japanese society,

    I agree with you 100%, but I don’t know how to stop it. Like you said, this is for those old rich men, and they don’t want it to change. They are supposed to decide things for us, but they do it just for themselves. I wonder why they are chosen again and again.

    I’d like to add 派閥 to the list. There are always factional struggles not just in the political world but also in many other organizations in Japan. You see factional struggles in universities, don’t you? I’m fed up with those ridiculous, ugly fights.

    Hi YU and rinko,
    My son didn’t go to a juku, but he passed entrance exams for high school(one public and two private schools). In my son’s high school, most students are going to university, and he is going to take exams for university next year, but he doesn’t go to a cram school. Some of his friends started to go to a cram school this year, so I told him that he could go there with them if he wanted, but he decided to take some courses(夏季講座)at his high school instead. There are some benefits of going to a juku or a cram school, but I think they are places for those who cannot study by themselves. I think the important thing is not whether you go to a juku or not, but whether you study or not.

    自分から机に向かえない子や、一人でやっても全然分からない子は塾が便利かもしれませんが、私は基本は学校の授業だと思っています(難関の有名私立を目指すなら学校の授業だけでは足りないと思いますが)。 中学生にもなると、部活動で毎日忙しくなるし、やる子とやらない子の差がはっきりしてくるんですよね。 授業参観のときでも寝ていたり、授業を全く聞いていない子もいるので…。 毎日6時間も学校で机に向かわなくちゃならないのだから、その時間を有効に使ってほしいと思いますね~。

    >先生に『どこの高校に入れそうですか』と聞いたら『塾は行ってますか?え、行ってない?塾へ行くと自分のレベルがわかって志望校を絞れるので塾へ行ってください』と言われたママもいました。実話?フィクション?耳を疑いました。自分達の時代より

    塾に行かなくても偏差値や合格判定をしてくれるテストを受ければ志望校を決める時の参考になると思いますよ。塾に行くとそういうテストの申し込みがそこでできるのが利点でしょうか。塾に行っていなくても書店で普通に申し込めます。昔は学校でそういうテストを一斉に受けたと思いますが、今は個人で受けないといけないので。昔は中学生の進路は先生任せの感じがありましたが、今は親と子どもで決めるので、学校説明会に参加したり、インターネットで情報収集したり、受験に向けて色々とやらなきゃいけないことがありましたねぇ…。正直言って、最初は私の方が不安でした(笑)

    Tomo



  31. Tomo on Wednesday June 27th, 2012 at 03:21 PM

    Hi Wakana,
    Welcome to the blog! 🙂

    Hi Ash,
    Nice to hear from you!

    >I bet Stephen King devoted fans would agree with me.

    Sorry, but I don’t understand what you mean.

    Hi Jyoji,
    >Thank you for your suggestion. It was just my careless mistake!!

    I’m so sorry!!

    See you soon,

    Tomo



  32. Jyoji on Wednesday June 27th, 2012 at 04:26 PM

    Hi YU,

    >So, you mean here? On David’s blog?

    Sorry, I mean on David’s blog.

    Thanks,

    Jyoji



  33. YU on Wednesday June 27th, 2012 at 06:24 PM

    Hi Tomo,

    I heard something different from my mama tomo.
    They told me that cram schools give children something higher-level which they can not learn in normal school carriculum, and they are often set questions in entrance exams for “quite normal” public high schools these days.

    I guess your son is very smart. According to your story, he must go to a very high-level high school in your region. I think those schools offer students higer-level education than other average-level schools for the first place, because they are able to understand it. And that is why they can pass entrance exams for universities without any trouble.
    To tell the truth, the high school I went was just like your son’s, and I didn’t go to a cram school too.

    There are 出来る子 and 出来ない子 in any generation.
    And I often hear that the diffrences between 出来る子 and 出来ない子 are born from not only “whether they study or not”, but much more from “the earning difference of their parents” nowadays. Unfortunately, it is shown clearly in recent governmental statistics. You must have heard of it.

    This is a very serious problem.
    That is one of the reasons why I think Japan should abolish entrance exams from public schools and introduce different evaluating systems for the school entrance. One example for it is the systems in Germany. Students can choose schools depending on their school records and interviews there. I think this kind of entrance system is much more fair and reasonable.



  34. YU on Wednesday June 27th, 2012 at 07:06 PM

    Hi Jyoji,

    > Sorry, I mean on David’s blog.

    I got it!

    By the way, there was a swimming skill check test today. And my son passed the test and moved up to the next class unexpectedly. I was very surprised and asked his coach, “Do you really think he can keep up with other students in the next class?”.
    She answered, “Don’t worry about it, I’ll be the teacher of his next class too, so I’ll teach him energetically!”(ビシバシ指導しますから、お母さん、心配しないで下さい!)
    On the way home, I bought a クリームパン, which is my son’s favorite as a reward.

    Thank you for reading my プチ自慢 till the end !!



  35. YU on Wednesday June 27th, 2012 at 07:23 PM

    Hi David,

    >I don’t know much about the mayor of Osaka, but he put me off with that business about forcing teachers to sing the national anthem.

    To be honest, I sometimes wonder if he is a nationalist.
    Some people call him “ハシスト”, which is a compound word of “ハシモト” and “fascist” with irony.



  36. YU on Wednesday June 27th, 2012 at 09:22 PM

    Hi jyoji,

    和訳見てみました。
    自分なりに訳してみたので参考にしてください。

    >Like many of you, however, I worry about the future. In particular, I worry about how the country is being damaged for the next generation.
    >しかし皆さんのおおくがそうであるように、私は未来について心配しています。特にどれぐらいこの国が次の世代へ禍根を残し続けているかということについてです。

    …….私は日本の未来が心配です。特に次世代この国はどんな風に(どこまで)ダメージを受けているのだろう(ダメになっているのだろう)と心配しています。

    > but I didn’t ask you whether it was easy or not; I asked you whether it is possible or not.
    > 私は簡単なのかどうかをあなたに聞いているのではありませんよ、私はそれが可能かどうか聞いているのです。

    過去形にした方が良いと思います!

    私は簡単かどうかを聞いたんじゃありませんよ、可能かどうか聞いたんです。

    > A few days later, she came to find me to tell me that she had found out it was possible after all!
    >2,3日後、彼女は私を見つけてやってきて、とにかくそれ(健康保険に入ること)が可能であることが分かった、と言いました。

    after allには『結局』という意味もあるのでここの場合はそっちの方がしっくりくると思います。

    2、3日経って彼女が私のもとにやって来て『結局できるってわかりました』と言いました。

    > This way of thinking needs to change, particularly in a country where so much is controlled by beaurocrats who spend their lives collecting large salaries for doing very little work.
    >この考え方は変える必要があります。特にあまり働いていないのに多くの給料をもらって生活している官僚たちに大きく管理されている国では。

    特に、ろくに仕事もせずがっぽり給料をもらう事だけに生涯を費やしている官僚達に本当に様々なことを支配されている(日本のような)国では、このような考え方は改める必要があります。

    > This is a word that I hear a lot in Japanese universities, but I suspect that it is just as common in Japanese society in general.
    >この言葉は日本の大学で良く聞きました。しかしこれは日本社会では日常的(な言葉)として在ることに気付いていました。

    suspectは『~だと思う』じゃないでしょうか?

    これは私が日本の大学内部でよく耳にする言葉ですが、多分(大学内だけでなく)日本の一般社会でも同じようによく耳にする言葉なのではないか、と思っています。

    > By saying that you are doing kentou, you can disguise the fact that you are actually doing nothing.
    disguise :偽装する
    by :~によって
    > あなたが検討するということを言うことは、実はあなたが何もしていない、と言う事実を隠蔽することができるのです

    by saying はJyojiが辞書で調べたように『~によって』のニュアンスだと思います。

    『検討します』と言うことによって『実は何にもしていない』ということをカモフラージュできるんです。

    > Unfortunately, I think that far too much 検討 goes on in Japan, and nowhere near enough action.
    > 不幸なことに、私は日本において「検討」とは果てしの無いことだと思うのです。そしてどこにも近くの十分な行動(実効性の伴った行動)などありません。

    残念なことに、私は(この)『検討』が日本には溢れ返り過ぎていて、そのほとんどが満足に実行されていない、と思うのです。

    > We have a saying in English that “you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs.”
    私たちには英語で「あなたは壊れた卵なしにオムレツを作ることができない」ということわざがあります。

    英語のことわざに、『卵を割らずにオムレツは作れない』というのがあります。

    >I hope Japan will be able to find a way to make the changes that need to be made without abandoning this part of its culture.
    >私は日本はその文化の一部を放棄することなしに作られる必要がある(作り出すことが出来る)変化なるものを創造する方法を見つけることが出来ることを期待しています。

    この文の解釈に関してDavidに質問したら『あっているよ』という返事だったのでこちらをご参照ください。

    日本が和の精神を損なわずに(放棄せずに)変われる方法を見つけられるといいのですが。

    >This phrase basically makes anything that follows it completely meaningless.
    >この言い回しは基本的にそれ(原則)に完全に意味なく従う(原則という言葉以外はまったく意味の無いものとして)何でもできてしまいます。

    基本的にこのフレーズはそれに続く(言葉を)何でも全く意味の無いものにして(変えて)しまいます。

    > It is often the case in Japan that everyone sees the need to make a change, but that one group of people object to that change.
    > それは時々日本ではみんなが変化させる必要があるように見えますが、しかしあるグループの人たちがそういった変化に反対するのです。

    see は 『見る』じゃなく、『わかる』ではないでしょうか?

    日本ではみんな『変えなきゃいけない』、と分かっているのに一部の人たちがそれに反対するケースがよくあります。

    > The solution is usually to make a 原則として “rule.” This allows people to pretend that a change has been made without actually changing anything in reality.
    >その解決法はいつも「原則としての」ルールを作ることです。これは人々に対して現実的な何らかの変化を実際にすることなしに、変化させるふりを可能にするのです。

    (そういう時、その一部の人たちは)”原則(ルール)”を作って片付けてしまおうとするのです。そうすると実は何も変えていないのに変わったように見せることができます。

    >It also costs lives, as we saw at the Fukushima Power Plant last year.
    >私たちは去年の福島原発のことでも分かったように、生活することにも費用もかかります。

    去年の福島原発のことでわかったように(時に)それは人命を奪うこともあります。

    これ、自信ありません。もしかして官僚政治のツケがあの福島原発事故であり、結果多くの人命が犠牲になった、とDavidは言いたかったのかな、と想像しました。

    > Have I missed any?
    何か間違っていることはありますか?

    何かリストに入れ忘れてませんか?

    That’s all !

    ではまた!



  37. Yukako on Wednesday June 27th, 2012 at 09:57 PM

    Hello David,

    In Japanese politics, “善処する” is often used in order to reject suggestions. I think this word will also damage Japan’s future.

    > We have a saying in English that “you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs.”

    We have a similar saying that “虎穴に入らずんば、虎児を得ず” (” Nothing venture, nothing gain.”) Instead of saying that we can’t do it, we should give it a try. The mind is necessary for Japan.

    See you.



  38. Tomo on Wednesday June 27th, 2012 at 11:22 PM

    Hi YU,

    My son went to a public junior high school, and he goes to a public high school now. He is doing nothing but club activities at the moment, so I don’t think he can pass entrance exams for universities without any trouble. I think they can pass exams because they study hard at school, a cram school, or at home. What I wanted to say is that going to a cram school is not enough, and it depends on how students use their time there. I don’t like the idea of parents(most are mothers) spending so much money on their children’s education, and I don’t like the idea of children doing nothing but studying for exams either. It’s okay with me if my son doesn’t go to university and starts working after finishing high school, if that’s really what he wants to do.

    I also think Japan should change the education system, and I think universities should change their entrance exams first. I agree with David that testing difficult and unimportant points of complicated grammar is meaningless, but high schools cannot change their ways unless universities change their entrance exams.

    >Students can choose schools depending on their school records and interviews there. I think this kind of entrance system is much more fair and reasonable.

    That’s a nice system! And I think school expenses(especially the ones of universities) should be more reasonable. They are too expensive!

    Good night,

    Tomo



  39. Tomo on Wednesday June 27th, 2012 at 11:35 PM

    Oh, I forgot to say this!

    YU, I’m happy for your son and you! 🙂



  40. amo on Thursday June 28th, 2012 at 12:32 AM

    Hi YU,

    > looked it up on David’s book.(A-Z P257 past simple tense)
    I guess your first idea is right. (before he returned)

    Sorry for my late reply. Actually, I did check his book, before I posted my questions. I had read the pages you mentioned and that’s the reason I asked the question. In his book, if your story is in the past, it is normal in English to use all verbs with past tenses. As you know, there are always exception, but I couldn’t find a good reason that it should be present tense. So if there was anything I should learn I wanted to know. Anyway, I have trouble choosing tenses like you.

    Hi Wakana,

    Nice to have you with us, and looking forward to your next comment.

    Hi David and everyone,

    I am a bit tired these days, so I am off to bed. I will comment on it tomorrow.

    Good night and sleep tight:)

    amo



  41. Jyoji on Thursday June 28th, 2012 at 01:57 AM

    Hi YU,

    素早いなぁ、、もう出来ちゃったんですか?(笑)
    明日にでもゆっくり読ませてもらい、返事しますね~。

    Good night~~



  42. Fumie on Thursday June 28th, 2012 at 09:36 AM

    Hi everyone,

    My eldest son will take an entrance examinations for some universities. I think it would be better to go to a vocational school if he was sure what he wanted to do but he can’t decide it yet. In that case, starting to work might be a better choice, but in reality, there aren’t good jobs for high school graduates. So we decided to let him go to university although we have to pay much money. Besides, usually salaries of university graduates are much higher than those of high school graduates unless the occupations are somethings require special skills like carpenter, cook, artisan. This may be nonsense but as a parent, we don’t want my children to live poorly.

    David, I’m sorry I might changed the flow of discussion from this week’s topic to current educational problem.

    Hi Wakana,

    Nice to have you with us!

    Fumie



  43. YU on Thursday June 28th, 2012 at 09:42 AM

    Hi Tomo,

    I also think that going to a cram school is enough, but I have a feeling that schools or teachers might be neglecting their work nowadays. (Of coures, I don’t mean all schools and teachers are the case)
    When I heard the irresiponsible teacher’s story from my mama tomo, I was really shocked. And I thought the idea of Mr. Hashimoto that Osaka city would subsidize low-income families to enable their children to go to a cram school was completely ridiculous. I think it is the duty of parents and school teachers to support 出来ない子.

    いつの世にも出来ない子はいます。
    お金持ちの子の中にもあまり出来の良くない子もいます。
    でもお金持ちの子は塾へ行ってそれなりに頑張ればなんとか
    授業についていけるのかも知れません。
    でもそうでない子はどうなるのでしょう?
    放ったらかしですか?
    昔は出来ない子は学校の先生が補習してくれた気がします。
    橋下市長の『低所得者層に子供が塾へ行く補助金を出す』という提案はまさに『そういう学校/先生が無くなった』という事を意味しているんではないでしょうか?
    もちろん熱心な先生は今でもいるとは思いますが、ここではマジョリティーに注目する事が大事だと思うんです。
    出来ない子をサポートするのは本来親と先生の役目じゃないですか?
    それに私のママ友の話ですが、自分の担任する生徒の学力を把握していない、ってどういうことなんでしょう?どうやって進路指導するんでしょうか?
    Tomoは今は外(塾とか)で偏差値や合格判定をしてもらうのが普通、と書いていましたが、疑問に思いませんか?
    昔は学校で出来たことが今はなぜできないのでしょう?
    私はやっぱり教育の低下、学校、先生の質の低下を疑ってしまいますね。

    色々書いてきましたが実際にはTomoのほうが今の教育のことをよく知っていると思います。子供さんが学校に行ってるし。
    偏差値、合格判定云々もばかばかしい『受験』という制度がなくなれば全て無意味なものになるわけですけどね。

    > I agree with David that testing difficult and unimportant points of complicated grammar is meaningless,

    Davidも調べないとわからない英文法って一体どんなもの?興味深々だわ~。
    以前、英会話学校で受けたオーラルテストの惨憺たる結果について話しましたよね?あのとき私はバリバリの大学1年生、受験を終えて間もない状態だったんですよ!!でも日本の高校で習う文法が口から出てくるって日本だと英語中~上級者と呼ばれるんじゃないでしょうか?Davidの言うように高校で複雑な文法を習うのもいいけど、まずは中学校で習った基本的な文法を使ってオリジナルの文章を書けるようになったり会話したりする方が大切な気がします。

    長くなりましたが、では!!



  44. Tomo on Thursday June 28th, 2012 at 09:49 AM

    Hi Jyoji,

    I read your translation. The entry was a bit more difficult than usual, wasn’t it? There are some parts I had to read several times.

    I have little to add to YU’s suggestions, so let me write about other minor points I noticed.

    >As you know, I love Japan, and I now consider it my home.
    皆さんも知っている通り、私は日本が好きです。そして今では私の家(住処)とも思っています。

    この home は「故郷・ふるさと」という意味かな、と思います。

    >I hate the word muzukashii because it is often used as an excuse by people who just can’t be bothered to do something.
    私は難しいという言葉が嫌いです。なぜならそれはときどき何かをするのに、かまう事さえできない(忙しくてひとをかまっていられない)人たちの良い訳に使われるからです。

    「can’t be bothered」 で「~さえしない、わざわざ~したくない、面倒くさい」という意味があるので、「それはよく、ただ何かをするのが面倒くさい人たちの言い訳に使われるからです」という感じかな、と思います。

    Hi YU,

    >It also costs lives, as we saw at the Fukushima Power Plant last year.
    >去年の福島原発のことでわかったように(時に)それは人命を奪うこともあります。
    >これ、自信ありません。もしかして官僚政治のツケがあの福島原発事故であり、結果多くの人命が犠牲になった、とDavidは言いたかったのかな、と想像しました。

    My interpretation is the same as yours. When we discussed “amakudari” last year, David said, “When I heard about the Fukushima accident, my first thought was that the problem had been caused by amakudari.”

    Have a good day, everyone!

    Tomo

    PS YU, I just found your new comment. I’ll read it when I have finished my housework!



  45. Anne on Thursday June 28th, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    Hi David and everyone,

    >難しい
    > I said, “That’s very interesting, but I didn’t ask you whether it was easy or not; I asked you whether it is possible or not.—If I was asked this question 20 years ago, I would first answer the same way as the woman did and would be shocked with your words,too. However, I won’t be shocked if this happens now. I don’t think it’s bad as a starter, but she should have shown clear answer “yes or no (possible or not)” after that. As YU mentioned, for me, just saying “yes or no” sounds too strait and strong.
    I guess the concept of “ambiguity(曖昧さ)” lies in each word you picked up.

    >和/ “you cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs.”
    Japanese companies have been traditionally adopted a life time employment system and “harmony” has been one of the important factors to cope with co-workers or their bosses. Economy has been stable and people have been tolerant with the system of the government and bureaucrats(amakudari-system) as a”しょうがない” situation because this system has been a kind of win-win relationship for both companies and bureaucrats.
    Thinking of recent situations in Japan, as David mentioned, big change is needed, so people won’t be silent for this system anymore, but I assume it’s a long way to remove this vicious circle.

    >検討
    As Yukako mentioned, “善処する” is a very convenient word when officials prepare drafts for members of assembly. A word “前例にない” also comes to mind concerning “検討/原則.”

    Hi Wakana,
    Nice to have you with us!

    Hi YU,
    NO wonder you are proud of your son! Oh,sweet story!

    Anne



  46. Tomo on Thursday June 28th, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    Hi YU,

    >Mr. Hashimoto that Osaka city would subsidize low-income families to enable their children to go to a cram school was completely ridiculous. I think it is the duty of parents and school teachers to support 出来ない子.

    I totally agree with you. Fortunately, I’ve never met those irresiponsible teachers in my children’s schools.

    うちの子供の中学校では、テストが近くなると部活動がなくなり、放課後に「質問教室」というのが開かれて、生徒は自由に分からないところを先生に質問しに行きます。(もちろん質問教室以外の日でもできます)でも、それは生徒の意思に任されているので、やる気のない子はそういう機会も利用しません。 私が言いたかったのは、「他の子よりも理解に時間がかかる子」ではなく、「やる気がない子」のことです。だからそれは塾に行ける、行けないの問題じゃないと思うのです。
    理解に時間がかかる子をサポートするのは親や先生の役割だと思います。でも学校の授業を一人一人のペースに合わせることは不可能ですよね。うちの子供の小学校では、算数の時間はクラスを半分に分けてそれぞれのペースで教えたり、先生が二人付いたりしていました。

    >それに私のママ友の話ですが、自分の担任する生徒の学力を把握していない、ってどういうことなんでしょう?どうやって進路指導するんでしょうか?
    >Tomoは今は外(塾とか)で偏差値や合格判定をしてもらうのが普通、と書いていましたが、疑問に思いませんか?
    昔は学校で出来たことが今はなぜできないのでしょう?

    YUのお友達の話には私もびっくりです。偏差値や合格判定が出るテストは公立中学校ではやりませんが(高校ではあります)、別のテストはあるので、先生はそれなりに生徒の学力を把握していると思いますよ。三者面談の時には、そういう資料も見ながら先生のアドバイスを聞きました。偏差値重視の教育を変えるためにそういうテストを学校で行わなくなったという話を聞いたことがありますが、偏差値・合格判定で育った親世代の方は数字をはっきり見ないと不安というのも事実だと思います。

    >私はやっぱり教育の低下、学校、先生の質の低下を疑ってしまいますね。

    もちろんそれもあると思いますが、私はそれよりも親の常識の欠如を何とかすべきだと思っています。 私が子供の学校に行くとよくに思うのは、先生の質の低下よりも親の質の低下です。 何でも学校任せ、何かあると学校&先生のせい、当たり前の常識は知らないのに文句だけは言う、という親の方がたくさんいると思いますね。 昔よりも「先生」という職業は気苦労がいっぱいで大変だなぁ…と思います。

    >偏差値、合格判定云々もばかばかしい『受験』という制度がなくなれば全て無意味なものになるわけですけどね。

    >Davidの言うように高校で複雑な文法を習うのもいいけど、まずは中学校で習った基本的な文法を使ってオリジナルの文章を書けるようになったり会話したりする方が大切な気がします。

    I couldn’t agree more!!

    Tomo



  47. Tomo on Thursday June 28th, 2012 at 01:07 PM

    Hi Fumie,

    > I think it would be better to go to a vocational school if he was sure what he wanted to do but he can’t decide it yet. In that case, starting to work might be a better choice, but in reality, there aren’t good jobs for high school graduates.

    >Besides, usually salaries of university graduates are much higher than those of high school graduates unless the occupations are somethings require special skills like carpenter, cook, artisan.

    Yes, you are right. I talked about it with my son the other day. He is not sure what he wants to do in the future and doesn’t want to start his career yet, so he is planning to go to university, anyway. I went to 進路説明会 at my son’s school last month, and I was surprised to know that the tuition of “rikei”(private universities) is about 2,000,000 yen higher than the one of “bunkei”!! I will be very happy if he goes to a national university.

    See you soon,

    Tomo



  48. YU on Thursday June 28th, 2012 at 03:16 PM

    Hi Fumie,

    > Besides, usually salaries of university graduates are much higher than those of high school graduates unless the occupations are somethings require special skills like carpenter, cook, artisan.

    I just remembered that a friend of English language club told me a story like that the day before yesterday. She didn’t go to university. She started working at a hotel in Hakone after high school. She liked the job very much, but she soon realized university graduates got payed much better while they did the exactly same work as her. Also, she couldn’t get promoted as fast as university graduates who entered the hotel in the same year.
    She felt empty, quit her job, and got married at 24.
    Actually, she is very smart and tactful. She does things efficiently. So, I think the hotel missed an able worker.

    Hi amo,

    Thank you for your reply when you are tired!

    Hi Tomo,

    > My interpretation is the same as yours. When we discussed “amakudari” last year, David said, “When I heard about the Fukushima accident, my first thought was that the problem had been caused by amakudari.”

    I’m relieved to hear that.
    I’ll read the entry later! Thanks.

    > 私が子供の学校に行くとよくに思うのは、先生の質の低下よりも親の質の低下です。何でも学校任せ、何かあると学校&先生のせい、当たり前の常識は知らないのに文句だけは言う、という親の方がたくさんいると思いますね。 昔よりも「先生」という職業は気苦労がいっぱいで大変だなぁ…と思います。

    I’ve heard stories like that many times!!
    You call them “monster parent”, right?
    Apparently, many school teachers carry insurance for suit expenses from(by?) “monster parent” nowadays.

    Hi Anne,

    > Economy has been stable and people have been
    tolerant with the system of the government and bureaucrats(amakudari-system) as a”しょうがない” situation because this system has been a kind of win-win relationship for both companies and bureaucrats

    I think you get to the point.
    “amakudari” has been tolerated because the economy has been stable. However, people suddenly start to focus on politics(government and bureaucrats) when the economy turns down.
    My husband often says that there are very few boycotts and demonstrations against the government in Japan. He always wonders why Japanese people are so quiet and calm. He says “もっと怒ればいいのに”.

    > NO wonder you are proud of your son! Oh,sweet story!

    Thank you !
    It seems like that he passed the test because of his “genki”. “Actually, he is on the borderline between the two classes, but he always looks happy and enjoys swimming with his classmates, so he received a genki bonus point and passed the test”, his coach told me so. 🙂
    元気も捨てたもんじゃありませんね!



  49. YU on Thursday June 28th, 2012 at 03:35 PM

    > I just remembered that a friend of English language club told me

    a friend “from” Enlish language club



  50. ashmoleanmuse on Thursday June 28th, 2012 at 03:38 PM

    Hi Tomo,

    I’m pleased to see you are active again on the the blog.

    > Sorry, but I don’t understand what you mean.

    Stephen King is an American author. I’m a big fan of him. In his horror novel ‘It’, an evil monster known as ‘It’ threatens and kills children. Now you know why I avoid calling someone’s baby ‘it’.

    Ash



  51. YU on Thursday June 28th, 2012 at 06:44 PM

    Hi David and Tomo,

    I read the entry about “amakudari”.
    A cold chill ran down my spine when I read the article David showed (Former Gov. of Fukushima’s expose on Japan Times).
    At the same time, I got furious with them about their evildoing, because I ended up running around everywhere to buy safe water and safe food at that time.



  52. amo on Friday June 29th, 2012 at 12:17 AM

    Hi David and everyone,

    When I read your opinions of 難しい、検討します, some phrase came to mind:
    “I’ll see what I can do”
    If you translate it literally “私に出来ることを考えてみます” or something like that. Don’t you think this words can be used in a same way like 難しい and 検討します? I am not sure where I read this but this phrase sometimes uses to refuse, and it said, if you are told this phrase, don’t hold your breath. I still remember that I was a bit surprised because until then I had believed that people from other countries spoke more directly.

    Good night,
    amo



  53. Jyoji on Friday June 29th, 2012 at 12:43 AM

    Hi YU & Tomo,

    どうもありがとうございました。
    しっかり読ませていただきました。。。しかしなんと自分が書いたことが
    不自然な日本語なのかがよくわかりますねぇ・・・(苦笑)
    お二人を見習ってもう少しやわらかく訳そうかな、、、

    YUさん一つ質問です。

    > I worry about how the country is being damaged for the next generation.
    >どんな風に(どこまで)ダメージを受けているのだろう(ダメになっているのだろう)と心配しています。

    という文は be + being + 過去分詞 で受け身の進行形という形をとっていますよね?
    なので「ダメージを受け続ける」という感じがいいと思うのですが、、どうなんでしょうね?

    Jyoji



  54. YU on Friday June 29th, 2012 at 04:18 AM

    Hi Jyoji,

    今ユーロサッカーの準決勝が始まりました!
    (ドイツVS.イタリア)

    > I worry about how the country is being damaged for the next generation.
    >どんな風に(どこまで)ダメージを受けているのだろう(ダメになっているのだろう)と心配しています。

    > という文は be + being + 過去分詞 で受け身の進行形という形をとっていますよね?
    なので「ダメージを受け続ける」という感じがいいと思うのですが、、どうなんでしょうね?

    む、難しい質問ですね。
    正直そんなに深く文法を考慮して訳していないんですが(汗)…

    確かに『進行形』という日本語から『何かし続けている』という印象を受けますが私は『し続けている』と訳したことは(あまり?)ないと思います。

    普通、進行形『be動詞+過去分詞』は『~し続けている』というより『~している』と訳しませんか?
    それに受動態『される』の意味が加わって『be動詞+being+過去分詞』で進行形の受動態になった場合『~されている』になると思いますが、いかがでしょう?

    なんか答えになっていない気がするのでTomoがちゃんと説明してくれるんじゃないでしょうか、と責任マル投げ!(笑)
    すみません。

    あ~、イタリアが先制ゴール!
       

    > しっかり読ませていただきました。。。しかしなんと自分が書いたことが不自然な日本語なのかがよくわかりますねぇ・・・(苦笑)お二人を見習ってもう少しやわらかく訳そうかな

    いやいや、最初Jyojiが言っていたようになるべく文字通り原文に忠実に訳した方が初心者のブログリーダーがわかりやすい、というのは事実だと思うんです。なので自分のスタイルを貫いて欲しいです。
    私のように意訳するのはきちんとJyojiのように一語一語丁寧に訳すよりずっと簡単だと思いますよ!

    では、私はサッカー観戦に集中させていただきます!

    See you !



  55. Fumie on Friday June 29th, 2012 at 05:38 AM

    Hi YU,

    The story of your friend who used to work at a hotel in Hakone is terrible. That’s unfair! I think companies in general should evaluate their employees by their skills not by their educational backgrounds. It leads 教育格差。People from poor families can’t go to universities thus they are not given good salaries.

    >My husband often says that there are very few boycotts and demonstrations against the government in Japan. He always wonders why Japanese people are so quiet and calm. He says “もっと怒ればいいのに”

    Oh, is that so! There are more boycotts and demonstrations against the government in other countries. Maybe that’s why there are still bad, old habbits in Japan. 国民がもっともっと頻繁に強く政府に訴えれば政策を変えれるんでしょうか?大飯原発の再稼働の問題でも反対のデモをしたけれど、結局、再稼働が決まってしまった。

    Hi Tomo,

    >もちろんそれもあると思いますが、私はそれよりも親の常識の欠如を何とかすべきだと思っています。 私が子供の学校に行くとよくに思うのは、先生の質の低下よりも親の質の低下です。 何でも学校任せ、何かあると学校&先生のせい、当たり前の常識は知らないのに文句だけは言う、という親の方がたくさんいると思いますね。 昔よりも「先生」という職業は気苦労がいっぱいで大変だなぁ…と思います。

    I feel the same way. I hear teachers are complaining about irresponsible parent’s attitudes and remarks all the time. Teachers have to spend so much time dealing with those parents. I feel sorry for them.
    信じられないと思うような親のことや、学校、先生に対してひどい言い方をされたと先生たちはしょっちゅう嘆いて(文句)を言っておられます。そういった親が多いと、その対応に先生たちは時間を取られ、本当に大変なんですよね。そうでなくても忙しいのに。

    Universities’tuitions are outrageously expensive! I wish my son could go to a national university. (he can’t. :<)

    Fumie



  56. Tomo on Friday June 29th, 2012 at 08:08 AM

    Hi Ash,

    Thanks for your message and explanation! I hope you’ll join us from time to time.

    Hi Jyoji and YU(マル投げやめて~笑),

    YUの説明と同じことしか言えませんが…

    do(~する)、be doing(~している)
    be done(~される)、be being done(~されている)

    だと思います。例えば、Davidの本にこんな例文があります。

    Mr.Sato was driving the bus.(佐藤さんがバスを運転していた)

    これを受動態に変えると

    The bus was being driven by Mr.Sato.(バスは佐藤さんによって運転されていた)

    「~し続ける」だとkeep doing などが浮かびますね。 is being damaged をこれに当てはめると、keep being damaged でしょうか。

    とりあえずこれだけ。。

    Talk to you later,

    Tomo



  57. Tomo on Friday June 29th, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    Hi YU and Fumie,

    >Apparently, many school teachers carry insurance for suit expenses from(by?) “monster parent” nowadays.

    I’m not surprised. As you know, there are a lot of “monster parents” who never listen to others. I guess it’s more difficult for teachers to deal with them than teaching students.

    >I wish my son could go to a national university. (he can’t. :<)
    The sentence I wrote("I will be very happy if he goes to a national university") is just my 願望 or maybe 切望(笑)

    I started working in a bank after finishing high school. Two years later, a girl who graduated junior college joined my branch. We were the same age, but of course her 資格 was higher than mine, and she got paid better than me even though I was her 指導員. As you know, that's the reality of 学歴社会 in Japan. I heard that it has started to change, but I have a feeling that it hasn't changed that much…

    Hi Jyoji,

    私も最初は英語通りに訳した方が分かりやすいと思います。 読んで理解するのと、それを自然な日本語に置き換えるのは別の作業だと思うんですよね。 それをやっているのは翻訳家だと思います。 これは前にDavidがしてくれた話なのですが、例えば、素敵な靴を履いている人に、I like your shoes! と言ったとします。 英語通りに訳すと「私はあなたの靴が好きです」ですが、この場合、「その靴、いいね!(かわいいね!)」が一番自然な日本語訳になるだろう、と。 でもこうしてしまうと、元の英語が分かりづらくなってしまいますよね。 なので今のスタイルのままでいいと思いますよ~

    See you soon,

    Tomo



  58. YU on Friday June 29th, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    Hi Tomo,

    Thank your for your explanation about “is being damaged”.

    >マル投げやめて~笑

    Hahaha….
    I’m not entitled to complain about the irresiponsible teacher of my friend’s child, because I’m fairly irresiponsible too !! 😉

    Hi Fumie and Tomo,

    I think what David mentioned is very true ;

    >” Japanese companies miss out on so much talent because of this ridiculous custom of recruiting only from the “best” universities. As we all know, being good at passing exams is no guarantee at all that you will be any use in the workplace.”

    > she got paid better than me even though I was her 指導員

    That’s very strange!!

    > that’s the reality of 学歴社会 in Japan

    Unfortunately, yes…
    That is still often the case in Japanese society.

    See you!



  59. YU on Friday June 29th, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    Hi Fumie,

    > 国民がもっともっと頻繁に強く政府に訴えれば政策を変えれるんでしょうか?

    実際フランスなんかは頻繁にデモをやってそれなりの効果があるみたいですけどね。

    > 大飯原発の再稼働の問題でも反対のデモをしたけれど、結局、再稼働が決まってしまった

    あれだけ再稼動に反対してた橋下市長まで『今夏限定再稼動容認』
    してしまった。ホント、なんなんでしょうね!?
    今夏大地震や津波が関西地方を襲ったらどうするんでしょう?
    (もちろん無いことを願っていますが絶対ないとも言い切れませんよね)

    ところで今朝の国内原発50基危険度ランキングのニュース見ました?大飯原発は即廃炉に次ぐ危険度ランキングNo.1みたいです。
    そんな原発を再稼動させてしまうなんて、正気なんでしょうか?
    『原発ムラのムラ人』(原発関連の官僚、学者、政治家などの総称)は人命を危機にさらしてまで自分の利権、立場を守りたいのでしょうか。正気とは思えませんけど!



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