Self-Studying Japanese

by Prex JDV Ybasco


Watching Japanese cartoons and dramas probably is the primary reason why I am taking up Japanese. Apart from that, their OSTs are amazing! They have a certain feel to them that even though I hardly understand them, I feel like I can do the impossible. However, there are always some moments when subtitles or English lyrics do not satisfy me. As they say, some things are lost in translation. I do not intend to live in Japan (but I certainly want to visit!) so I have decided not to take professional classes in Japanese and just learn the language by myself. After all, if language learning can be considered one’s hobby then how hard will that be?

I would not consider myself an expert in languages but here are some ‘strategies’ I have used to study Nihongo.

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Taking the Hogwarts Express and Revisiting Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Taking the Hogwarts Express and Revisiting Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

by Jahzeel Dionne Ybasco

A number of people will hold on to their childhood by collecting their favorite toys or playing online games. Others will opt to document their lives using photos, and now, their Facebook Timelines. Still some others will act very childishly, trying to outshine anybody with their over-the-top achievements, whether real or fictional. I hold on to my childhood by taking a train in Kings Cross station, Platform 9 and ¾.

I practically grew up with Harry Potter. Since high school, there has never been a year when I have not reread any novels nor watch the movies. I am not that proud of it but I have unconsciously turned it into my Bible I religiously read. There was a time in my life that I pretended I attended Hogwarts instead of the university my parents had chosen for me. It was very easy as the stairs in that school were ancient but sturdy *cough* Philippine Normal University *cough* and the teachers were as strict as Professor McGonagall. My brothers—heck, my entire Muggle family—have asked me why I keep watching the same Harry Potter movies or read the same books. My younger brother asked me last Christmas if there would be a holiday he would not see Harry on screen. I flatly told him no.

I know I am not alone though. I joined Pottermore some years ago because of someone who is addicted to Professor Snape. To my surprise, I saw billions of people around the world, of different ages I assume, who try their best to participate in different activities in the website to give glory to their respective houses. They also make sure to check out every nook and crannies of the website to see J.K. Rowling’s official updates and collect cards of famous witches and wizards. Empowered by their devotion, I also have started to collect things and uncovering subplots of the Harry Potter series by visiting the story sequence and thus add more points for Gryffindor House.

Harry Potter‘s influence in my life does not stop there. It is one of the reasons how I have been able to create a fictional world of my own. I used to believe in the power of fan-fictions and how amateur writers can give a new direction for renowned characters. In fact, a part of me still does. However, upon getting a second Harry Potter book set two years ago, I realized, I can also make a world of my own similar to Hogwarts and create my own characters. I do not have to borrow someone’s protagonists and antagonists, supply them new plots and new characterizations when I can channel my creative juices on my own literary babies.

Some readers who have not read the novels nor seen the movies will probably think the entire concept of a young-wizard-triumphing-over-a-full-pledged-magician boring. That it may be a complete waste of time. However, I have realized that people in the world consider boring the things they do not completely grasp. Let us also consider the intimidating number of movies and the length of the books, and even religious reasons why they have missed a big portion of their childhood. I also acknowledge that maybe, their whole concept of childhood is built around the idea that kids have to kill each other in a dystopic world. My concept, though far less interesting, is happier than that and no, I am not about to defend myself nor will I give them a guide to Hogwarts. It has always been a matter of choice. Quoting Professor Dumbledore:

It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

Kids and kids-at-heart can continue bickering about the best for them and I will gladly excuse myself from joining. All I will have to do is go to Kings Cross Platform 9 ¾.

Re: New Format and Policies

Dear Beloved Readers, Writers, Students, Teachers,

Happy New Year! Let us all welcome 2015 with a bang: with our arms wide open for learning, with eyes intent on reading and scrutinizing works of literature, with ears willing to listen if they haven’t been rendered deaf by firecrackers.

I would like to share with you the happy news: The Viter-Ybasco University has turned a year old! This institution unofficially started in November of 2013 as a revolt to power-hungry school administrators. It started with the idea of being the voice of empowered students and teachers who believed –and still believe– that education cannot be confined in the four corners of the classroom. So far, we were able to post reviews of books and movies, even rants and praises for institutions, educators, and students in 2014. We were productive.

We will not stop there.

2015 holds a lot of promises for us. As our institution matures, and hopefully the President does too, we will expand our topics and analysis of literature. We will add an “Articles” tag where the President will react upon articles written and posted in various educational websites. We will also post recommendations and clarifications of words, grammatical structures in “Languages” (not exclusively for English-users)  where readers and followers can submit interesting words and idiomatic expressions for posting.

Our existing tag “Student of the Week” will be paired with “Teacher of the Week.” Readers once again are encouraged to submit a piece about their favorite teachers and students.

We should like to begin this year with accomplishments in the previous year. As an example, here are the accomplishments of the dear President, yours truly, in 2014:

  1. Got a new worthwhile job
  2. Went to Palawan with the Wasak Gang.
  3. Went to Sagada with GMA peeps
  4. Conducted a seminar in Pampanga sponsored by Vibal Publishing, Inc.
  5. Started working in the office
  6. Bought new phones for myself and my mom
  7. Had more friends
  8. Read thirty books including A Song of Ice and Fire
  9. Wrote my own novel TBC – To Be Continued
  10. Hosted a graduation ceremony
  11. Hosted Hitutor’s Christmas Party
  12. Updated The Viter-Ybasco University blog

Our readers may list their accomplishments in the comment section, provide their names and their occupation (instructor or student) and we will honor you a post here in our institution as the first “Student/Teacher of the Week.”
The first term for our second year in the e-world has officially started. Let us all be productive.

Yours most respectfully,

President JDV Ybasco

STUDENT OF THE WEEK: AMBER

One of my students who are preparing for their Job Interviews asked me how I answered this question:

Why did you decide to be a teacher?

I answered in different ways:

-> I want to motivate children to study and speak in English just like my favorite teacher when I was in high school.

-> Because my father wanted me to be a teacher.

But I only have one answer that best explains why:

 I am good at it.

And I don’t need a classroom evaluation for that.amber

Thanks My Dear Amber for reminding me I’m doing something right. I will certainly miss you.

On Books, Reading, and Selfie

(dedicated to educators, future educators, book lovers, and those who pretend to be)

One’s love for books may be as shallow as loving the notion of being thought of as scholastic. She may post pictures of herself in a bookstore, holding a book, or putting several books on her desk but they remain untouched for a long time. She may even put a book or two in her bag for the pretense of reading it or them but only spares a glance for a few minutes. The book or books lay forgotten and unread.

The President thinks there is nothing wrong with this. It is only absurd particularly if the said individual taking a selfie is an educator.

In this digital age, one can access pieces of information almost anywhere in the internet. The President is tempted to surmise that most probably this has contributed to the diminishing reading rate of students. The young ones are used to reading 160 characters–note: characters only– , the President worries that the future generation will completely lose their love for reading novels and by novels the President means thick ones, soft bound or hardbound, real ones or even ebooks.

Reading has its purposes particularly for an educator. It separates her, pages, books, a library ahead of students. It helps her become a medium of the multitude pieces of information. It transports her to places and worlds she has never been to. It helps her prepare for her classes. And through her and her love for reading, students under her wing will develop their love for reading as well.

The current trend on the other hand is using reading, and the fame that goes with it, as a status symbol. Again, there is nothing wrong with this. Only, it is superficial. Had it been a reality, the effect would not have been so bad. Not hypocritical. There is nothing more frustrating seeing a teacher who tells the world “I love reading” but has not finished any novel nor an autobiography for the past three months. There is nothing more infuriating than an English teacher recommending the same novel to students of different levels for the past three years. There is nothing more shameful than realizing students have already surpassed the number of books the educator has read only to use the I am so busy excuse.

Again, there is nothing wrong with taking a photo with a book. However, no matter how many books an Educator has at the background, may it be one or a library, nothing will change unless she opens the book and starts reading.

Note from the President:

I wrote this because I sincerely want to express my frustration over a number of Language Educators who cannot even motivate their students to read. I would like to express how much I am challenged by a number of my students who have read more books than I have. Shouldn’t all Language Educators take the challenge head on? After all, we have professed we have known more, learned more, experienced more than our students. Why shouldn’t we read more? The book is on your table and it is worth more than just becoming your profile picture. Read.

Acknowledgment:

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my student, Mike who has started his journey in reading English novels. Thanks for giving me an assurance that I am doing my best as an educator and through this blog I can encourage students like you to read more.

To Syme, who is my soulmate in the literary world, thank you so much for empowering our future educators in their endeavors. You show that reading encompasses departments and majorships.

To my best friend Maria Cecilia, thanks for feeding my love for reading for reminding me that laziness has never been an excuse for reading.

To my sun and stars, Russell, thanks for continuously inspiring me to be better and for challenging me to read The Song of Ice and Fire.

To the Ybasco Family who has fostered the love for reading in me.