Sunday, February 20, 2011

U for "Use It, or Lose It."

Use it, or lose it.
This is very true, especially when you are talking about language. I've seen so many returnee kids who are losing their English ability. I'm now in the environment which I rarely use English as a communication tool. (I speak English in the lessons, but that is not really the communication I mean. I'm talking about the situation which English is essential for everyday life.) Am I going to lose the ability to understand this language some day? Thinking about that scares me. If I lost my English and couldn't understand what my friends say, I would feel like I had left valuable assets behind. So, I really appreciate my friends who talk to/chat with/write to me in English. This journal is one of my effort to keep my language skill present.

Speaking of kids' English, I regret to say as a teacher but it is impossible for kids to be able to speak a foreign language with just taking a lesson twice a week, however long they keep studying. Many mothers, and even I would if I had a child, expect their sons and daughters to be able to communicate fluently in English after a year or so, but in reality, that doesn't happen. Well, they may be able to read, write, and understand what the teacher says, but speaking always comes last and requires lots and lots of input and determination. Adults might be able to achieve the goal by their patience and passion, but for young learners, they must be put in the environment where there is no choice but using English to understand mutually with instructors and pals.

When you learn a new language, this question always bothers me: whether you should learn it through your mother tongue or immerse yourself in that language. My former work place in Canada has an English Only policy in teaching, so I used to believe in it. But now, I'm kind of in between, especially for adults. This is probably because I learn new vocabulary with Japanese translation, and it works quite well. But I'd like to add that I have spent more than 10 years to learn not to translate English directly to Japanese, or vice versa.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

T for "Talking to a Baby"

*I intentionally wrote this entry in "writing test" style*

Have you ever heard of "baby sings"? This is the title of a hand sign language for babies who is in the stage before they pronounce words and talk. This method was invented in the U.S. and is becoming popular in Japan. I think this invention is very practical for relieving mother's stress, strengthen the parent-child bond, and developing babies' communication skills.

Many moms are stressed when parenting toddlers partly because they don't know what they want and why they cry. Baby's cry makes not only a mother but people around them irritates or annoys. The parent wants to stop the baby screaming, but the child has no means to tell that she is just hungry. That creates enormous amount of stress on the caregiver. If the kid could tell what she has in her mind, it would make parenting much easier and more efficient.

It is heart-breaking to hear about mothers abusing or sometimes taking the life of their babies. In many cases, those parents would say, "That violence was a part of discipline." How could hitting a child to death be discipline? I consider that those incidents the result of lack of communication and bond between parents and their kids. Babies can only make some meaningless sounds and cry, but they are trying to convey their emotion through those signs. Probably mothers who currently can not have enough affection toward their young children were not able to decode their babies' signals to understand who they are. Baby signs would definitely help moms in this trouble.

Moreover, babies' sign language will draw kids' attention to mingle with people around them. These days, I see quite a few people have communication problems. They do not know how to carry on the conversation or sometimes talking to others itself makes them feel uneasy. I assume that those people do not have a chance to experience the joy of communication. Baby signs will develop toddlers' interest in "talking" to others and let them feel the enjoyment of being able to "say" what they want to say. This experience will help kids to keep progressing their skills of conveying their thoughts even after they shift into actual language.

From those points, I will conclude that baby signs are the effective method to understand children who are premature to talk verbally. They will let mothers free from a part of parenting stress, enhance love between mothers and young children, and help babies to positively learn how to communicate.

....ah, I used to like writing compositions, but now, I don't. I failed Eiken 1st grade, and that was hugely because my essay was terrible. I obviously need more practice.
Anyway, I just wanted to tell you how cool "Baby Signs" are. My friend told me that she and her 1-year-old son went to a class to learn these signs and they started to use them in communication. It was amazing to see that the baby son shows the sign of "elephant" when he saw a picture of an elephant. He was learning how to do "horse" at that time, and he started using it as well. According to the website, this "language" helps mothers to understand why their babies are crying or bad tempered, and allow moms to give a necessary help to their children. I didn't even know that before-talking kids can actually communicate with sign language. It must be a great fun for parents if they can "talk" to their little sons and daughters. I was really impressed and awed by a human wonder.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

S for "Swimming Pool"

Hi there :)

I got a gym membership the other day. I've been thinking of getting it for a long time, but couldn't make up my mind. I was lured by their New Year campaign (no registration till Jan 31st) and finally invested in my healthy practice. Now it's all up to me whether I make use of it.

To begin with, I went swimming to the gym today. When I registered, the lady at the reception told me that not many people use the swimming pool, and I would be able to enjoy swimming without feeling crammed. She was right. At 7:00 pm, there were less than 10 people in a 25M, 5-course pool. I found a vacant course and ended up occupying it all by myself until I get tired 30 minutes later. The water was clean and warm. The changing room was quite nice with some long lockers(the ones you can hang your coat without touching the bottom). I should be determined and come here at least once a week. I'm not a great swimmer, and I admit that swimming alone for 30 minutes is pretty boring. But for some reason, swimming is one of the few exercises that are doable for me.

They have various programs in the studio, so I'd like to participate in a yoga class some day ;)

It seems that I can expect a full-time work shift from April. There's no signed document, yet, but I'm pretty sure I can!!