The Grammar-Translation Method : Really all that Bad?

When it comes to teaching languages, the grammar-translation method has become the child nobody loves or wants to acknowledge.  But is it really hell on toast?  No, it ain’t.  There, I said it.  Leave it to Seeroi to be the one to defend something he doesn’t even like, but hey, somebody’s gotta stand up for the downtrodden.

Before getting into a whole deep analysis, let’s talk booze, if for no other reason than it’s a whole lot more interesting than grammar.

So I went to a gaijin bar last Saturday, which I rarely do anymore, since I’m always hanging out with old drunk Japanese dudes in izakayas.  But for some reason I was walking by this place and I saw a Guinness sign and I remembered, Hey, I love that beverage.  So in I went.

Just in case you’ve never been to Japan or live in a cave or something, a “gaijin bar” is what the Japanese call a tavern full of drunk English teachers.  For some reason, the bars always resemble Irish pubs, despite the fact that there’s only about four Irish people in the whole nation.  Yet another mystery of the Orient, I know.

The thing about English teachers is they’re loud.  And you know who you are, so don’t try to deny it.  Continue reading “The Grammar-Translation Method : Really all that Bad?”

What Do You Think of Japan?

I used to think there were three possible answers to any question: yes, no, and whatever’s not covered by yes and no.  Like, when the waitress asks, Do you want another beer?  That’s a yes.  Isn’t it about time you thought about going home?  That would be a No, not until I get that beer I’m waiting for.  And, Would you at least please stop bothering the other customers?  That would would be a Well, if that’s how you feel about it, then I’m leaving.  Just as soon as I get that one more beer.

It’s interview season in Japan.  The weather is getting warmer, the ume buds are starting to appear, and maybe you could even see a bird.  Yeah, like maybe in a zoo.  But anyway, about this time every year I pick my two-sizes-too-small Japanese suit up from the floor of my closet, polish the front of my shoes, and head out with my resume.

My Japanese Interview

I went to this interview last week.  It’s for a job teaching English, so for some reason unbeknownst to anyone, the entire interview was in Japanese.  Continue reading “What Do You Think of Japan?”

Why are Japanese so Bad at English? (5 Reasons)

Everyone knows Japanese people aren’t exactly Masters of the Universe when it comes to speaking English, despite receiving six years of English education.  Six years?  Are you kidding?  You could build yourself a Great Pyramid in less time.  I’m pretty sure.  Just chop up some limestone and stack it up.  Probably take you a couple of years at best.

But okay, there are clearly some good reasons why Japanese folks can’t speak English.  And if you study Japanese, you also need to avoid the same traps.

Ask any foreign English teacher, and they’ll tell you, “The grammar-translation method doesn’t work.”  Sure, but people also say that we swallow spiders in our sleep and the Apollo moon landings were merely elaborate hoaxes.  Continue reading “Why are Japanese so Bad at English? (5 Reasons)”

Two Japanese Life Skills You Must Master

If you want to be a success in Japan, there are only two things you really need to nail.  The unfortunate small problem is, they’re opposites.  But perhaps a colorful story will help to illustrate.

So I was in a “standing bar” a couple of weeks ago, which is like a normal bar, or really a restaurant because they serve food too, only without any seats.  It’s just about the worst invention the Japanese ever came up with.  Like, who wants to have drinks and food standing up?  Would it kill you to put in some barstools?  But anyway, so I’m standing there having a conversation with this rather attractive Japanese lady and I order some fish in a can on toast.   And things are going pretty well between us, you know, until suddenly her husband shows up.  So that was a little disappointing.  But whatever, he turned out to be a really nice guy and bought me a beer and I Continue reading “Two Japanese Life Skills You Must Master”