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福岡市天神の英会話スクール「ACE English」スタッフが送る、笑えてときどきためになる(かもしれない)ブログ。
COLD?
I’m writing this because I’m trying to find an answer to something that’s been puzzling me for a very
long time. As you read on, you may think that I am not being serious and that this is some kind of a joke.
But I am being serious. I have a question, and I am hoping someone can give me an answer to it.

Recently (it’s November), the weather has finally got a bit colder, and every year when this happens I
receive lots of friendly comments on the unsuitability of my attire: ‘Aren’t you cold’? - that kind of
thing. Of course, I don’t mind at all, but what these remarks seem to be suggesting is that my behaviour
is a little strange. But is it? I’m not so sure, so if I may I’d like to put my side of the story.

Over the years, I have noticed that children here in Fukuoka - both boys and girls - are very much
the same as kids back home in England. The colder weather does not seem to bother them particularly.
I see them in their short pants and T Shirts at the kindergarten I work at; I see them in the local park
and I see them around the housing estate near my school. In terms of what they wear, they are much
the same as I was at their age, and they are much the same as I still am. If they cared to think about
it - which obviously they don’t - I’m certain they would not think that what I was wearing was strange.
Much more importantly, though, they are just the same as you were. In other words, you were the same
as I have always been. So what has happened to you?

It seems to me that an extraordinary change takes place here. Kids who are completely untroubled by
today’s 10 degrees, become teenagers and adults who are cold in temperatures twice as high. Many
young ladies, especially, have a hyper-sensitivity to “cold” that is very hard to believe in a country that
for some reason prides itself on having four distinct seasons. Because of my job, I see this all the time.
The mercury may be in the low to mid-twenties, which I admit is on the chilly side for Sri Lankan students,
but the locals are wrapped up in padded coats like a classroom full of Michelin Men.

So my question is a very simple one. What happens? How, or why, does this transformation take place?
As I said, this is a serious question; it’s not a joke. I very much hope someone can give me an answer to it.


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テーマ: 英語・英会話学習 - ジャンル:学校・教育

ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE ON RUDENESS
While being served at a supermarket checkout recently, an elderly gentleman started talking to the
clerk who was serving me. I asked him to wait (my Japanese is up to that). I did not understand his
growled response; I just heard the word ‘foreigner’. But he was clearly not pleased. He thought I
was being rude.

So I want to set the scene, or scenes, and then I’d like to ask you a question. Before you read on, I
should say that the actions of the old man, the lady in the parked car and the light jumpers are not
fictional but, in my experience, very common occurrences, especially number 3. It is only the second
part, in which I challenge their behaviour, as I did in the supermarket, that is fictional.

1. An older man (it’s always an older man) hangs around the end of the swimming pool, offering unsolicited
advice to strangers on their swimming technique. Those he approaches seem to tolerate him, but when he
tries this with me, I tell him that I did not ask for his advice and would he please leave me alone.

2. A car pulls over on a busy two-lane street in the city centre. The driver chats away happily on her
smartphone. A traffic jam is building up behind her because she has reduced the road to one lane. She
seems oblivious to this, so I (a motorcyclist) tap on her window and point out to her the chaos she is
causing.

3. At a busy crossroads the green filter light to turn right has finished. The next four or five cars ignore
this fact completely and continue to turn right, often blocking the progress of cars that have received
their green light. I (a driver whose path has been blocked) roll down my window and berate the light jumper
for dangerous driving, breaking the law and causing a gridlock.

Ok, this is my question: In these situations, who, if anybody, is being rude? Well, I think I can guess your
answer. It would be me. Why am I so sure? Because after 20 plus years here there is no doubt in my mind
that the primary act of rudeness in Japan is confrontation. You may think someone is being impolite or
anti-social, but to challenge them on it is the cardinal sin - the one that makes you the rude one. And
ust as the man in the supermarket attributed my “rudeness” to me being a foreigner, more broadly I believe
it is the more confrontational style of many foreign societies (I can’t think of a better term) that many
Japanese people regard as rude.

Of course, the lack of confrontation in Japan is in some ways one of the good things about living here. If
I make a bad mistake on the road, I don’t have to worry that someone might shoot me (the U.S.) or react
very angrily - a real possibility back home. That said, I would argue that knowing you will not be confronted
is actually a root cause of what outsiders like me would consider rudeness and often outright lawlessness
- especially on the roads. A few more examples:

Every morning I drive down from my house to the main road. Cars are not supposed to drive up from the
main road because it is closed to them between 7am to 9am, but this injunction is routinely ignored. Why do
these drivers do this when they know full well they shouldn’t? In my opinion it is for exactly the same
reason that the old man in the pool, the lady blocking the road and the light jumpers do what they do. They
know they will not be confronted. They know that other drivers who actually have the right of way will
reluctantly pull over for them and not get openly angry with them, despite the fact that they (the drivers
going up) are the ones breaking the law.

Last week in the swimming pool I watched a young, attractive pool attendant bothered for more than 20
minutes by a man in the pool beneath her high lifeguard’s chair, who would not stop talking to her. Her
smiles through gritted teeth made it crystal clear that she wanted him to go away, but he would not. Why
did he do this? Again, I believe it is partly because at some level he knew that she would not - or could
not in this case because he was a customer - challenge behaviour bordering on harassment.

Of course, it goes without saying that many people here do not take advantage of the knowledge that illegal,
anti-social or impolite actions will not be challenged. It is equally true that where I come from just as many
people will try to avoid any kind of confrontation if they possibly can, even though it is more acceptable in
their society.

All I’m trying to say here is that there are other ways of looking at rudeness - there really are.


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テーマ: 英語・英会話学習 - ジャンル:学校・教育

IN PRAISE OF JAPANESE SERVICE
In these blog entries (I have written quite a few now), I believe a good percentage of my observations/
opinions about Japan have been positive. Sure, I’ve criticized a few things, but as anyone with a lot of
experience of living abroad can attest to, there is no perfect country, and as an outsider there will always
be some things you don’t like or understand. That said, one thing I have always been unequivocal about
is my praise for standards of customer service here. It is this marked contrast with my own country,
recent experiences of “service” provided by a British company, and the fact that I am going home next
week, that prompted me to write today’s blog entry.

When I was a teenager there was a very popular comedy program on TV called Candid Camera. This is the
kind of thing that happened. A van from the telephone company (bogus) pulls up outside an unsuspecting
person’s house, and workers start to make preparations to put a telephone box right in front of the driveway.
The owner then rushes out and tells them that this cannot possibly be right. As the workmen continue to
insist that they have their instructions, the homeowner moves from bewildered amusement to annoyance.
Finally, as things are starting to get out of hand, the program’s presenter appears from behind a tree and
says to the homeowner, “Smile you are on Candid Camera”. It was all just a practical joke.

I mention this because there really are some similarities here to the actual service one receives in the U.K.
or from U.K. companies: like that homeowner, at first you think it’s so bad it must be some kind of joke or
misunderstanding, but then you realize it isn’t. Unfortunately, though, unlike in Candid Camera there is no
happy ending - no punchline when you find out that it actually is a big joke after all.

As I mentioned, recent dealings with a well-known British airline were a disaster from beginning to end:
wrong name on the ticket, total chaos checking in, delayed flight and, finally, lost luggage (my daughter got
her bag 36 hours later). There was one silver lining in all this in that it was a domestic terminal and a
domestic flight within the U.K. Had it not been, her luggage could have ended up in Sydney. It may amaze
Japanese readers that I consider this a positive, but to keep one’s sanity this is how you need to think
in the U.K.!

I am still looking to forward to going home. I haven’t seen my family for a long time, and I love the English
countryside: beautiful, unspoilt villages, each with an ancient gem of a church and a cozy pub. Oh, and the
green! - the bright grass green that I associate with my homeland.

But I’m going to miss Japanese service!


ACE English はこちら
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ブログランキング参加中 ACEはいったい何位
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テーマ: 英語・英会話学習 - ジャンル:学校・教育

HOW WE SEE THE SEA
今日は、Ianのブログです。

As a keen swimmer from another island at the opposite end of the Eurasian land mass, it has been
interesting to contrast Japanese attitudes towards the sea with those of my compatriots, as well as
with other countries I have visited or lived in.

More specifically, what I am talking about here is getting in the water. In my experience, many
people living in coastal or island nations - even fairly cold ones like my own - enjoy swimming in
and being in or on the sea. In Japan, however, this seems to apply mainly to surfers or wind surfers.
When I have spoken, as I often do, about my own love of swimming in the ocean, reactions range from
mild (he’s just a strange foreigner) to strong (he’s bonkers). But why is this? What accounts for
the almost phobic dread many have here of getting in the briny? There are many reasons, I think, but
I am certain I know one of them, and it’s a belief I find every bit as strange as some might find me.

Isn’t it cold? This is the question I am often asked when I tell people that I swim in the sea, even
when I’m talking about swimming in summer. Of course, people have different ideas about what ‘cold’ is,
but for me the question is still a very strange one. It is like asking a runner in the Fukuoka Marathon
(held in a fairly cold month) if she is cold. She isn’t cold because she is running. I am not cold in the sea
because (1) I am swimming and (2) Kyushu is hot in summer by any standards. This ‘isn’t it cold’ question
says something to me about how many Japanese view the sea and why people don’t get in it. Basically,
it is a permanently, unchangingly cold place, no matter what the season is or what one is doing in the water.

As I said, I think there are many reasons why relatively few people here get in the sea, even when
the weather is hot. Others, in my opinion, include different ideas about modesty, a dislike of getting
sunburnt (females especially), and the fact that learning to swim in a 1.5 meter deep pool (rather like
learning to ride a bicycle without taking the training wheels off) is perhaps not the best preparation
for swimming in the ocean.

To finish, while I’m on the topic of the sea and local beliefs about it, I’d like to put a particularly popular
one to bed once and for all! Here it comes: The Jellyfish appear after Obon. If I had 10 yen for every
time I have heard this, I would be a rich man. It is incredible how many people think this is true!
Well, I can personally assure you all that it is not! One reason I know it is not true is that I’ve been stung
by them long before August. By far the main reason, however, is that jellyfish do not know when Obon is.
I am not a marine biologist, but I would bet my life on this claim being correct. Yet another reason is that
for anyone who cares to look there are large numbers of jellyfish to be found in June, no more than a kilometre
away from the school. And this has been true for a long time. I admit that this ‘jellyfish after Obon’ fantasy
may have had some veracity in pre-industrial times, before man-made climate change, but it is not even
close to being true anymore.

Anyway, that’s enough this week from an Englishman in the Sea of Japan!


ACE English はこちら
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テーマ: 英語・英会話学習 - ジャンル:学校・教育

IN JAPAN, WE WILL NOT ROCK YOU
今日はIanブログをお楽しみ下さい。


IN JAPAN, WE WILL NOT ROCK YOU

During the last twenty plus years I’ve reflected a lot on the differences and similarities between my own
country (the U.K.) and Japan. In this blog entry I’d like to share my reflections on the topic of music
- popular music. I don’t think there are many similarities here, so I’ll be talking about the differences.

I’ve long thought that the music each country produces is a reflection of sometimes stereotypical national
characteristics and how they manifest in each society. Japanese society is characterized by politeness,
obedience, group thinking and an unwillingness to give offence, and in my opinion the music of many bands
here mirrors this. Go to a Dreams Don’t Come True or Mr. Child concert and you will hear
crowds singing along politely to nice music which is inoffensive to the point of being anodyne.

I admit that heavier bands in Japan (like B’z?) are, on the surface, different. They strike rock star poses,
wear sunglasses all the time and make moody rock star faces - all things that good rock stars everywhere
should do! But Rock and Roll has its roots in teenage rebellion. Of course, I know that many British and
American rockers of my generation are balding, pot-bellied multi-millionaires in their 70s, so the notion of
teenage rebellion is now ridiculous, but many of them were the genuine article at one time. However, in a
society as conformist as Japan’s is, this rebellious pose is to say the least unconvincing. I just can’t help
imagining the boss running onstage during one of their concerts and telling them to get back to work
immediately. Japanese rockers are just as much a product of their milieu as the groups mentioned above.

As for society in Britain, despite its ‘afternoon tea’ image, it is or can be a lot rougher, more aggressive
and confrontational. Individuality and irreverence are, in my opinion, defining characteristics of the average
Brit. Put all this together and you get something as neanderthal as Queen’s We Will Rock You, or as
aggressive and nasty as 70’s Punk Rock. Plus a whole lot more!! A musical punch in the face, and a million
miles from the pleasant, happy clappy offerings of J Pop.

Another difference I’ve noticed between our two countries, mainly because of my day job with female
university students, is different priorities. The following conversation is not verbatim, but I’ve had a number
of exchanges just like this with students:

Me: What are you doing this weekend, Yuki?
Yuki: I’m going to a Prince and King concert. Shoe is so cute!
Me: Cute? But what about the music? What’s the music like?
Yuki: Music? I don’t know, but Shoe is kawaii!!

Basically, for many young people here - at least the people I’ve spoken to - the quality of the music seems
unimportant. Kawaii and image are everything! This is not the case in the U.K. These things have a very
short shelf life. If your music is terrible, you won’t last long.

I think I’ve said enough, but before I finish I should say that although I miss England (the place!) I prefer
society here. I really do. I just think the music it produces is…how can I say this….a bit tame.



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テーマ: 英語・英会話学習 - ジャンル:学校・教育



プロフィール

ACE English

Author:ACE English
福岡市天神地区の英会話
スクール・ACE English。
たくさんの生徒さんに
支えられて、おかげさまで
今年26歳になりました。

「HPだけじゃ伝えきれない
ACEのウラの顔をタレ込みたい!」
というスタッフの願望から、
スタートしたこのブログ。

日本一おもしろい(?)
スクールブログを目指しています。



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