Private Lessons and Other Classes

So recently I’ve been in talks with another, intermediate-level, Chinese learners group, investigating whether we might merge our groups. On Thursday, we met with a potential teacher for their continuing studies in the fall, and I began to more seriously consider the thought that had occurred to me on Monday, about teaching $language (or $instrument) to small groups of students, more formally (similarly to a piano teacher, getting paid), because the people in our conversation group seem to be primarily those who grew up with Chinese spoken in their households, and then some people with a moderate amount of experience and some with almost none, and the people with almost no experience might benefit from some introductory material, after which they could join the more intermediate group’s lessons.

I’m wondering how much interest there might be in such language/instrument teachers. Certainly there would probably be interest in piano/violin teachers, but I don’t really know how much people might expect to get out of private language instruction, nor how well that would work. Should I join a preexisting educational/tutoring organization and teach classes through an infrastructure that is already set up? Should I consider organizing a group of people experienced in something, and mostly act to pair up interested learners with experienced teachers (while being in the pool of experienced teachers myself)? Should I try to do this as a private instructor, as piano/violin/voice/etc teachers do?

I guess I haven’t really figured out why I want to do this. If it’s purely an interest thing, it might be somewhat fleeting, as with “Learn Asian!” Sure, I taught it for two years, but towards the end of the second instance of the class, I began to realize that I had lost some interest in it. Perhaps I lost interest because people expected things from the class that I wasn’t ready to offer. Perhaps I lost interest because I kept wanting to tie it into cultural observations of the languages, but I didn’t feel like it was really my place to inject my opinions (nor did I really want to express my opinions to a bunch of random people); this last possibility really only occurred to me last night. I’m not sure where I want to take “Learn Asian!” from here. I don’t know if I want to teach it again in an altered form next IAP, or stop teaching it altogether. I’m not sure whether I want to continue teaching or expand my “Introduction To Japanese” class for next IAP, either.

So many questions. Fortunately, there is totally time to figure things out. I would also be interested in hearing from people who might be interested in the IAP class or private lessons what your thoughts might be.

Thoughts on Language Learning (Part 2 of ?)

I was writing an email today, to an alum who is part of a group of Chinese-learners, and it occurred to me that practicing a language conversationally not only helps one keep the phonemes/grammar/vocabulary in shape and readily accessible, it also helps to focus the direction of further acquisition in the language. Back in the day, MIT Medical organized a “cultural language exchange” program: you filled out a form indicating which language(s) you were proficient in and which language(s) you wanted to practice, and they paired you up with someone who was reasonably proficient in the language(s) you wanted to practice. My first pairing was with a native French speaker. As we talked, I realized what sorts of things I liked to talk about, what sorts of things I wanted to say about myself in casual conversation with a new acquaintance, and so on. As I realized what these topics were, I found myself wanting to learn richer vocabulary to talk about them, and thus, where I had been confused and overwhelmed by the vast body of French there was left to learn, I began to develop an idea of the direction for further studies in French (whenever I chose to continue them).

Kyo – “La Vérité Nous Ment” (The Truth Lies To Us) Translation

I was in a terrible state of mind on Thursday, and then I ran across this song, which was amazingly calming and soothing. Then it occurred to me that I didn’t really know what the song was about, so I decided to do a translation. Here goes!

Tu sais le monde a peut-être raison
De ne pas se poser trop de questions
De continuer à vivre
De continuer à croire
Que ce n’était pas à toi de dire la fin de l’histoire

Faut pas que tu t’accroches
A ta solitude
Je connais cet endroit, cette habitude
Faut pas que tu t’attendes à décrocher la lune,
La vérité nous ment,
Parfois elle se dénude

C’est vrai ça ressemble à l’amour qui s’en va
Mais derrière lui les traces ne s’effacent pas
Ce qu’il te laisse, tu finieras sûrement
Par l’accepter même, en faisant semblant


Tu peux mentir ça me servira à rien
Les mensonges en série on n’en voit jamais la fin
Maintenant tu peux contempler le ciel
Et t’avouer que t’as connu plus fidèle


You know the world has a possible reason
For not asking too many questions
For continuing to live
For continuing to believe
That it wasn’t for you to say the end of the story

It’s necessary that you hang on
To your solitude
I know this place, this habit/custom
It’s necessary that you wait to take the moon,
The truth lies to us,
Sometimes she (truth) bares herself

It’s true, it resembles love that leaves
But after her, the traces aren’t erased
That which it leaves for you, you will surely finish
By accepting it all the same, by pretending


You can lie, that won’t serve me at all
The lies in series, one can never see their end
Now you can gaze at the sky
And confess to yourself that you’ve known, more faithfully


BoA – “be with you.” Detailed Translation, Part 3

As before, I’ve copied the text of the stanza for this week, both kanji and romanization (ローマ字, rōmaji), from the original post.

09 いつか ねぇ、交わした約束をちゃんと
10 憶えていますか?
11 いつか きっと 叶えられる
12 そう信じてもいいよね…
13 あなたとだから 今
14 わたしはここにいる

09 itsuka   nee, kawashita yakusoku wo chanto
10 oboete imasu ka?
11 itsuka   kitto   kanaerareru
12 sou shinjite mo ii yo ne…
13 anata to dakara   ima
14 watashi wa koko ni iru

Line 9: itsuka basically means “someday,” nee is the particle that asks for agreement while suggesting that disagreement would be very unexpected; it also can be used as an interjection of “hey” or “come on,” as it is used here. kawashita is the direct, perfect tense conjugation of the verb kawasu, which means “exchange (messages, greetings, etc),” and as always, the direct-style allows it to modify the noun phrase that follows it, which is yakusoku, or “promise,” here (note that the count of nouns in Japanese is not specified). wo is the indirect object marker, and chanto means something along the lines of perfectly/exactly.

Line 10: oboete imasu is the te-form of oboeru, meaning “remember,” and the distal-style, imperfect aspect form of iru (see footnote #3 of the first post in this series). ka is, of course, the question particle. Over these two lines, then, we have “Someday, hey, will [you] remember, clearly, the promise(s) we exchanged?”

Line 11: We saw itsuka at the beginning of this verse, kitto means “surely,” and kanaerareru is the potential/passive (the two happen to look the same) form of kanaeru, which means “grant (a request, wish, etc).” (The “potential” form is “be able to,” and the “passive” form is, well, passive. For example, the potential form of the verb “protect” would mean “be able to protect,” and the passive form of the verb would mean “protected.”)

Line 12: sou refers to a previously mentioned concept or manner1. shinjite mo ii is a construction that takes the form of te-form + mo (a particle that roughly means “also”) + ii (”good”), and it asks for permission to do the verb, which is shinjiru (”believe”), here. yo is the sentence-final particle that indicates that an assertion or an introduction of new information into the conversation is being made, and ne is the sentence-final particle that asks for agreement; here ne serves to soften the bluntness of the yo. “Is it okay to feel that way, do you think, probably?”

Line 13: anata is a form of singular, second person address, most commonly used as a term of endearment. to is a connective particle, roughly translatable as “and,” dakara is a combination of the direct-style, imperfect form of the copula and kara, which means “because,” here2. ima (we have seen this kanji earlier) means “now.”

Line 14: watashi is the first-person, singular pronoun, wa is either the topic particle or a contrastive particle (emphasizing that it is the noun being referred to, and not some other possible noun). koko is a demonstrative that means “here,” ni is a location particle (see footnote #4 of the second post), and iru is “exist,” for animate nouns only. Thus we have “Because [it's] with you, now, I am here.”

All together, then!

Someday…hey, will you remember, clearly, the promise(s) we exchanged? Someday, I’m sure, [a/my/our] wish will be granted; is it okay to feel that way, do you think, probably? Because [it's] with you, now, I am here.

1 This is actually rather difficult to explain; if my explanation here made it clear for you, please let me know. My only recommendation, otherwise, is to try to find more uses of it and infer the meaning for yourself.

2 kara has a number of usages.

“From” [use after a location]
bosuton kara kuru.
[I] come from Boston.
Ordering (”Then”) [use after the te-form of a verb]
tabete kara, toshokan ni iku.
After eating, I (will) go to the library.
tabeta kara, tabetakunai.
Because [I] ate, [I] don’t want to eat.

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