Saturday Classes (Feedback)

Thanks for all your comments. This seems to be a popular topic. I’m just looking at the results of the poll, and 71% of people who voted do not think that Japanese schools should go back to having classes on Saturdays. That is quite different from the survey I read. In that survey, around 80% of parents were in favour of Saturday classes.

I noticed that some of you were talking about presentation skills, and coincidentally, I did a seminar on that at a conference for students last weekend. Actually, it was more about how to use Powerpoint, but a lot of the topics I talked about apply to things like “Show and tell” as well. For those of you who are interested, here it is.

Here is some feedback on this week’s comments:

And after I entered a junior high school, Saturday classes were stopped. So I studied when it is Yutori Kyoiku period.
It is better to avoid using “and” and “so” at the beginning of sentences. (A-Z: and/but/so)

In my opinion, it is not necessary for schoolchildren to go to Saturday classes. Because I think the most important thing for schoolchildren is not to attend many classes, but to think by themselves or solve problems on their own.
Good point, but you do not need the period before “because.” (A-Z: because)

However, it doesn’t get the point.
However, this misses the point.

I would never want my children to have Saturday classes. School is not the only place that children learn things. I think they learn lots of important things by spending time with their families, friends and other adults.
Very true, and all good English!

Around that time I never felt that I had too few time to spend with my family or friends because of Saturday classes.
I never felt that I didn’t have enough time to spend with…

I’m very skeptical about if those students can study by themselves at home.
I noticed something interesting in this sentence. This is an example of when you can use “whether,” but not “if,” so it should be “I’m very skeptical about whether….”

I’m absolutely against having Saturday classes as the same reasons as David.
… for the same reasons as David.

Many of female teachers are mothers
Many female teachers are mothers

Though I studied Pi = 3.14, I think it is not so important whether Pi = 3.14 or 3.
… I don’t think it is so important whether… (A-Z: negative sentence word order)
By the way, a friend sent me this the other day. Do you know if it is true? It’s very interesting, anyway.

Why do you think they teach that way?
Because they have less knowledges than teachers of our generations? Or because the number of classes got fewer and the time is limited? Or for any other reasons?
Can I give my answer? I think it’s because the government wants children to be educated in this way. People who can think for themselves would be a threat to rich, powerful people. I still cannot believe that after the Fukushima disaster, the Japanese people voted for the most pro-nuclear party! This is the same party who ignored all the warnings and failed to monitor the power companies properly for more than fifty years! No one from TEPCO has gone to jail, and the boss even got amakudari to a high-paying job with another company! There are constant news stories about radioactive waste being disposed of in rivers, workers being paid almost nothing to do incredibly dangerous jobs, and lots of other wrongdoing, but the Japanese public just accepts it all quietly. I can’t help thinking that the education system has taught them: “Don’t complain, don’t ask questions, do as you are told.” It makes me very sad to see what is happening to this wonderful country.

I don’t think this way of thinking is correct, but I don’t wonder why most people think this way at all.
… but I’m not surprised that most people think this way.

However, as you said, most of the companies really want those kind of people that can think for themselves and present their ideas to other people.
I think this is the problem. Japanese companies need those kinds of people, but they don’t really want them because they are afraid that they would “disrupt the harmony” in the company. I was talking to a friend the other night who works for a big company. She regularly works 12 hours a day, and her pay is terrible. In any other country, she would just leave, but because she is Japanese, she feels that she has a responsibility to the company. If workers really started thinking logically about their jobs and their companies, Japanese society would collapse!

I agree with you, however I don’t think nothing would move forwards unless Japan abolishes the “jyuken” system.
… , however I don’t think we will be able to make any progress until Japan abolishes the “jyuken” system. (I agree with that 1000%!)

My parents were, so to speak, coaches.
Nice sentence.

One reason is, I think, that textbooks in Japan are too thin to study.
I was looking at a high school English textbook yesterday. It was so bad, that I just wanted to throw it in the bin.

I don’t think my parents are very smart. 
I don’t think my parents are particularly smart.

And I think teachers today also don’t adapt these changes yet and are in a huge labyrinth now.
I don’t think that today’s teachers have adapted to these changes yet, which is why they are so confused.

I have many things to say about this topic but my English skill allows me to say all of them correctly.
I have many things to say about this topic, but my English is not good enough for me to express all of my ideas correctly.

But I heard from my mother that she studied …
My mother told me that… (A-Z: hear from)

my teacher made me to stay in school to study.
my teacher made me stay in school to study.

I want children to have much time to do what they want for their dream.
I want children to have enough time to follow their dreams.

I wish I was educated in the UK!
I wish I had been educated in the UK!

I like the way your parents did, …
You can’t use “do” like this. You would have to say, “I like the way your parents taught you” or “I like the way your parents brought you up.”

It is often said that German people are argumentative, but I think British people are the same!
No we’re not!

David recommended me to watch the video …
David recommended that I watch the video …

I didn’t complain about that, though I wished no school on Saturdays.
I didn’t complain about that, but I wished we didn’t have school on Saturday.

I’ll try to review my translations before posting them from now on.
I’m just very grateful that you do them! It’s good practice for other people to check them, too.

In my case, last year my husband and I completely forgot our 40th wedding anniversary.
Really! That’s quite surprising!

Thanks again for all the interesting comments. I’m sorry I don’t have time to correct everything. Have a great weekend.

24 Comments

  1. YU on Friday February 15th, 2013 at 03:33 PM

    Hi David,

    > If you want to use “think” to express the meaning of “a thought popped into my head,” you have to either use direct speech (I thought to myself, “…”) or use an expression like “I remember thinking….” This is explained in the A-Z under the key word “think.”

    I’m sorry to bother you, may I ask you a question?
    I’ve just read the part of “think” in the A-Z book and I know exactly what you mean.

    My question is :

    If Biwa hadn’t written the part of “I thought” in her sentence from the beginning, what would you have answered to her?

    I guess you would have suggested “That would never have happened, if all the passengers had been Japanese.”

    Is my understanding correct?
    If not, I don’t understand in what cases「仮定法過去完了」should be used.



  2. David Barker on Friday February 15th, 2013 at 03:40 PM

    Hi YU,

    That is correct. The problem was “I thought.” If you omit that, the sentence is fine. You don’t need a comma before “if,” though.



  3. YU on Friday February 15th, 2013 at 03:54 PM

    Hi David,

    Thank you for your prompt reply!
    I’m relieved to hear that my understanding was not wrong.
    Anyway, it was very good practice for me, too!
    Thank you, Biwa!

    I’ll read your feedbck later.



  4. Steve on Friday February 15th, 2013 at 05:11 PM

    Interesting video. I always cross my sevens which sometimes arouses curiosity in Japanese students. When I was a kid, I remember learning about how in Europe they did so, and I thought it was cool. I kept the habit and now know I was right to do so.



  5. David Barker on Friday February 15th, 2013 at 05:15 PM

    Hi Steve,

    I always cross my sevens too, and I get really pissed off when Japanese people “correct” my written numbers!



  6. YU on Friday February 15th, 2013 at 06:40 PM

    Hi David,

    Thank you always for your feedback.
    I like the video about Arabic mumbers very much!
    I wondered if the theory in the video is applied to only the numbers from 0 to 9, because 10 should be 1 angle(1=1angle, 0=0angle, 1+0=1 angle) or should we think this way? 10 = 1 x 10, so 10 angles?
    I’ll watch another video when my son goes to bed tonight.

    > That is quite different from the survey I read. In that survey, around 80% of parents were in favour of Saturday classes.

    Indeed.
    I often feel that many of readers of this blog seem to be, how can I say…, a bit “westernized(?) or 日本人離れ” than regular Japanese people.
    I have a feeling that it is often the case that their opinions are similar to yours or Kattie’s.
    In contrast, my views are often different from yours and theirs, or neautral, so it is always good English practice for me to argue against your opinions as one of the Japanese of Japanese!!

    > I noticed something interesting in this sentence. This is an example of when you can use “whether,” but not “if,” so it should be “I’m very skeptical about whether….”

    I see, but “why?” because it is so?

    > If workers really started thinking logically about their jobs and their companies, Japanese society would collapse!

    I wrote “They(young people) are getting rational.” in my comment to Tomo, but I actually wanted to say “They are getting logical.”
    Today, more and more young people learn to say “No” to older generations like me who always say illogical things. Is this just my imagination?!

    > In my case, last year my husband and I completely forgot our 40th wedding anniversary.
    Really! That’s quite surprising!

    That’s not surprising in Japan!
    By the way, thank you for your kind message, Mika!

    Have a nice weekend, all!



  7. ashmoleanmuse on Friday February 15th, 2013 at 08:23 PM

    David,

    > I always cross my sevens too, and I get really pissed off when Japanese people “correct” my written numbers!

    You don’t need to get pissed off. Westerners’ sevens look odd to Japanese people because Japanese kids are taught to write number seven with a serif to the end of the top.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7_(number)

    Ash



  8. YU on Saturday February 16th, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    Hi David,

    I watched another video.
    I’ve seen lots of people giving their PowerPoint presentations exactly like what you explained as bad examples. They normally stand at the edge of the stage and just read up their notes which are exactly the same contents as the slides.
    As you say, actually the presentor should be the star of the show, but in our presentation it is often the case that it is filled by PowerPoint’s slides.

    In the video, you suggested us that you should not give your handouts before your presentation.
    It was new to me. In reality, however, everyone does it at school, in the company and anywhere else. In Japanese companies, young female employees copy as many handouts as for the meeting participants and put them on the table before the meeting starts.

    At the last part of your presentation, you said, “If you got 10 points what you want to explain, explaining 5 of them well and forgetting 5 is better than explaining 10 of them badly because nobody knows your plan!”
    I totally agree with you.



  9. David Barker on Saturday February 16th, 2013 at 03:11 PM

    Hi YU,

    I’m glad you enjoyed the video. I am on a personal crusade to stop boring Powerpoint presentations, and I decided to put the video up on the blog so that students from other universities can watch it too. Did you try Googling “Death by Powerpoint,” by the way?

    Hi Ash,

    I know why Japanese people change my sevens, but I don’t like having my English writing corrected by Japanese people. It’s my language! Don’t correct it – copy it!

    It often happens with the letter “y” as well, because I write it differently from the way Japanese children are taught to write it. I wish that English teachers would teach children that there are different styles of writing numbers, and not just one “correct” one.

    Actually, I always think that Japanese people should prefer the European style (and my style) of writing “7,” because it looks like the kanji for that number, don’t you think? (七)The reason some people write it like that, by the way, is to make sure that it is one mistaken for “1.”



  10. YU on Saturday February 16th, 2013 at 05:20 PM

    Hi David,

    Yes, I got 4,120,000 hits.
    By the way, I’m wondering how can we translate “Death by PowerPoint” to Japanese.
    We say “死ぬほどつまらない”, though…

    > I don’t like having my English writing corrected by Japanese people. It’s my language! Don’t correct it – copy it!

    English letters are used in my husbands’ language, too. He writes some of them differently from us. Because I was taught just one “correct” one in school, it’s sometimes very difficult for me to read his handwriting.
    I’ll try not to complain about his writing any more.



  11. Fumie on Saturday February 16th, 2013 at 09:42 PM

    Hi David,

    Thank you for your feedback. The topic is interesting so I wanted to write more comments but when I checked this site at night, the number of comments increased a lot. I couldn’t keep up with them. I’ll watch the video of your’s about Power Point and learn how to avoid being a bad presenter.
    Recently my schedule is full and I don’t have much free time.



  12. Kattie on Sunday February 17th, 2013 at 05:30 AM

    Hi David,

    I’m going to show your presentation about presentations to Emily and Rosie, I don’t think they use powerpoint but there are some really useful tips anyway. I think people are often aware that it’s better not to read from a script but they end up doing it because they’re terrified of drying up. I remember Jerry Senfield once saying that in a survey of people’s Top 5 Fears, Fear of Dying surprisingly only came in at Number 2 but in the Number 1 position was Fear of Public Speaking!



  13. YU on Sunday February 17th, 2013 at 07:08 AM

    Hi David,

    > Actually, I always think that Japanese people should prefer the European style (and my style) of writing “7,” because it looks like the kanji for that number, don’t you think? (七)The reason some people write it like that, by the way, is to make sure that it is one mistaken for “1.”

    Now I know what you mean…
    Probably we don’t have ideas like that(to make sure that it is one mistaken for “1.”) because there are another kanjis for each number to avoid being mistaken or altered from the beginning(壱、弐、参…). They are still used in writing a check, 戸籍, or 登記. You will see those kanjis when you resister your house this year.
    Please have a look at this list.

    http://www.benricho.org/kanji/kansuji.html

    Sorry if you already know this.



  14. Biwa on Sunday February 17th, 2013 at 09:14 AM

    Hi David,

    Thank you so much for your feedback. I’m glad I could figure out the answer for “I thought”.

    Can I ask another question? You corrected my sentence as “I wish I had been educated in the UK.” Actually, I wrote so at first because I didn’t specify the period of time. For example, I should say “I haven’t been educated in the UK.” or “I wasn’t educated in the UK when I was a child.” Is my understanding all right so far? However, I found an example sentence in the dictionary “He was educated at Oxford.”, so I simply wrote “I wish I was educated in the UK.” Was the example sentence correct because “Oxford” already suggests the period of time as “during university days”? If so, I understand why my sentence was wrong.

    By the way, I shared the video about the Arabic numbers with my family last night. They all said “Wow!” It’s really interesting. I’m going to talk about it to my students, too. Thanks for the nice “ネタ”!!

    Hi YU,

    For the “if” and “whether” rules, I always refer to this site:
    http://www.ravco.jp/cat/view.php?cat_id=5578&PHPSESSID=oqiu4adpvjb96ar4648l3pvrp7

    Your case is probably no.4, you cannot use “if” clause after a preposition.

    Also, a belated happy anniversary♪♪



  15. Biwa on Sunday February 17th, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    Hi David and everyone,

    By the way, I forgot to mention “未来工業株式会社”. Have you ever heard of the company? It’s a company that makes materials for electric equipments in Wanouchi-cho, Gifu. I read about it in the evening paper of Nikkei last week. The founder was interviewed, and I was really surprised that a company like this should exist in Japan.

    Their working hours are from 8:30 to 4:45, no overtime(they’re not allowed to) and have the most days off in Japan.(138 days off besides 有給休暇) Even though, they get very high profits, and never any deficits. His motto is to make his employees the happiest in Japan because he knows it is the best way to bring out their potential. The employees are invited to a trip abroad every 5 years, and their retiring age is 70! The company’s motto “Always think!” is written everywhere, and the employees are paid 500 yen every time they suggest any unique ideas.

    What surprised me most was that he was a 81-year-old man with white hair and a beard, and he still seems to think of better ways to make his employees do their best. I wonder why most of the other employers in Japan keep doing completely the other way round. They really need to “think” before their company actually collapses!



  16. amo on Sunday February 17th, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    Hi David,

    Thanks for your feedback and also the videos. I hardly ever make presentations but maybe someday I will, so I keep your tips in my mind.
    By the way, I don’t cross my sevens but Zs. The reason is the same as sevens, to make sure that it is one mistaken for “2.” You know, I work a foreign bank so I used to read many kinds of handwriting. Even though, I sometimes ask my co-workers to help because I can’t make mistakes on account numbers.

    Have a nice weekend 🙂
    amo



  17. YU on Sunday February 17th, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    Hi Biwa,

    I think I’ve seen the company was introduced in a TV program a couple of years ago, too! As you say, the employees seemed be satisfied with their working conditions.

    > The employees are invited to a trip abroad every 5 years

    When they were taken up in the TV program, they were planning to go on a company trip to Egypt(!), but I heard it was finally called off because of regional political unrest.

    Thank you for the link about “if and whether”!

    See you!



  18. David Barker on Sunday February 17th, 2013 at 02:39 PM

    Hi Kattie,

    I’m glad you liked the video. I suppose “Death by Powerpoint” is an international concept! Actually, I said something during that presentation that had never even occurred to me before. I don’t know where it came from, but I think it’s a good way of explaining the phrase. When we talk about “Death by Powerpoint,” the thing that is being killed is the idea that the person is trying to get across. Anyway, I would be very interested to hear what Emily and Rosie think after they have seen it. As you might have guessed, I feel pretty strongly about this subject!

    Hi Biwa,

    It’s “had been” because of “wish.” If you use “wish” to talk about the past, it is always hypothetical, so use “wish + past perfect.”

    I was educated in Japan, but I wish I had been educated in the UK.
    I wish I had studied harder when I was in school.
    I wish I had listened to my mother’s advice.

    I have never heard of the company you mentioned, but it sounds like the kind of company I would like to work for! The attitude of most Japanese companies just seems to be “You are lucky to work for us. Don’t complain, and do whatever we tell you.” This is not a good way to get the best out of your staff. As I have said before, I think the biggest problem in Japanese companies is the ridiculous system of rotating people all the time, giving no consideration to what people want to do or what they are good at doing.

    By the way, when I criticise the Japanese education system, I am not saying that all Japanese people are “automatons” who cannot think for themselves. That is clearly not the case. I know many Japanese people who are very good at discussing, debating, and expressing their opinions, and they are quite capable of thinking for themselves and acting independently. The problem is that they are that way in spite of the education they received, not because of it.

    Hi amo,

    Bearing in mind the kind of work you do, I think it’s very important for you to make sure you are reading numbers correctly!

    Hi everyone,

    Going back to our last topic, a friend of mine who is a teacher told me a story about something that happened in her school. In the staff room, a sports teacher slapped an 11-year-old girl across the face so hard that he sent her spinning across the room. My friend and another teacher were so shocked that they complained to the principal, but he just said 教育ですから、仕方がない. What kind of man thinks that beating up 11-year-old girls is “educational”!?



  19. Biwa on Sunday February 17th, 2013 at 05:44 PM

    Hi David,

    Thank you! So it’s just a simple rule, and I was looking in the wrong direction. Actually, I found it in my son’s grammar book! I’m so embarrassed…

    >but he just said 教育ですから、仕方がない

    Is he really saying that “now”?? After all those incidents being taken up on news? Isn’t there any one that can say things to the principal?
    Actually, I’ve heard many stories about good teachers being transferred to other schools. They were the kind that can teach the children to think for themselves, but I guess they were hated from the headmasters.
    However, children are really good observers, and they know well who don’t tell the truth or do nasty things. The teachers should be aware that the chldren are always watching carefully how they act. Classroom is not the only place that children learn things!



  20. YU on Sunday February 17th, 2013 at 06:39 PM

    Hi David and everyone,

    I hate to say this, but I think everyone should complain to the police about matters like that, but not to their headmasters any more. That is not “educational”, but it is a real “crime”.
    It’s about time teachers, parents and students realized all those headmasters think about is protecting their own interests.

    I have a feeling that some teachers misunderstand that “school” is a special, holy place where the police can never intervened in. Or are they just scared of being transferred by their headmasters?



  21. Fumie on Sunday February 17th, 2013 at 09:45 PM

    Hi David,

    Your presentation about Powerpoint is very useful. As other members already pointed out, people tend to give presentation as the way you said as bad examples.
    Arabic numbers video is also interesting. I didn’t know about that.
    >I was looking at a high school English textbook yesterday. It was so bad, that I just wanted to throw it in the bin.
    – May I ask you why did you think that?
    Did it because the English is unpractical or the topic isn’t interesting?



  22. Biwa on Monday February 18th, 2013 at 09:28 AM

    Hi Kattie,

    >Fear of Dying surprisingly only came in at Number 2 but in the Number 1 position was Fear of Public Speaking!

    I was quite surprised to read this part because I always had an impression that Western people (especially British people!) were good at public speaking by nature!

    However, after reading your stories, it sounds like it’s just that you are well aware of the importance of good presentations, and that the skill is not something you can achieve very quickly. The education system in the UK seems to focus on presenting your ideas in front of people from very early childhood. On the other hand, people in Japan seem to think that those skills are something to study by yourself when you actually need it, such as after you enter university or start working.
    We really need to change our ways of thinking!



  23. Biwa on Monday February 18th, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    Correction
    I always had an impression?I have always had an impression



  24. Biwa on Monday February 18th, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    Sorry, ‘I always had an impression’ should be ‘I have always had an impression