Sunday, July 29, 2007

New challenges

As I mentioned in my June post, work-related things for me have changed. Soon it will be August and I will be on trial for one month. I will go to work at a data support center. I will not be programming. Instead, I will be a computer operator. One part of the job will be communication with people in the US. Another part will be reading instructions in Japanese and following them to perform the maintenance or fix of the computer system. I think that part won't be hard at all, however the interviewer is the one who is not fully confident in my ability to read Japanese. I am not yet advanced but certainly won't have much trouble with computer related text. A novel type of book is very difficult, but before I got the two Japanese books in my book section, I had started reading a book on Unix in Japanese. The percentage that I can understand is vastly different. I find the Unix book much easier to read.

Actually, I hate the Japanese language. There are too many forms of the same verbs or that have the same meaning and the change only marks the politeness of the sentence. The meaning doesn't change at all. This complexity means that the learner is exposed to the same language less often which makes it take longer to acquire.

I am just slow by nature. I've always moved slowly, do things slowly, and I don't talk quickly. Japanese is a kind of language that people can speak quickly because it usually has a vowel after every consonant. Out of about 50 syllables in Japanese, only 1 is not followed by a vowel sound. I do not think quickly, I do not read quickly. I do not like to be pressured to do anything quickly.

In English, a lot of actions are expressed by using a few simple words put together. In Japanese, there is usually one word that can be used. So it seems that English learners can learn fewer words and learn how to use them correctly. Japanese learners need to learn a lot of words.

Japanese writing is probably the most difficult aspect to master. An English learner can learn a few thousand words in English and by then, I believe, should be used to the rules of how words are pronounced, there by giving them the ability to read anything in English. Japanese, however, can be very difficult to read, even for an intermediate learner. The pronunciation of each new written word needs to be verified to be sure that it is really pronounced that way. There is no "sounding out the word" in Japanese like can be done in English. Some common words are usually written in hiragana, but can show up in Kanji. Just because you can't read the word, doesn't mean you don't know that word.

Another bit of common knowledge just to illustrate my last point: There are many Japanese people who can read English but can't speak or converse in it. On the flipside, there are many English speakers who can speak Japanese but can't read it.

In the English language, I speak the same way at work or at home. I talk the same way to my friends or to my colleagues. In Japanese it is totally different. People speak in a completely different manner at home. At work it is a little bit mixed. On the telephone at work, it is completely and absurdly polite. To me, this is a society of unequality. The language was developed in a manner to show who is at a higher social status. It is manipulation. I'm sure in all of history in all societies, there have been powerful people willing to take advantage of others for the benefit of personal gain. It's not uncommon.

Back to my original theme for this post. I am entering a work environment where I am already considered not good enough. However, it's a new operation and so about 10 people are needed. It's difficult to find that many people who are at such a high level in two languages, all at once. So I have been reluctantly put on the team. The third part of the job is talking to clients in Japanese on the phone. It sounds like I will be allowed to dodge that part when possible.

It may only be a month or by the end of the month I might be deemed worthy enough to continue. Or, quite likely, they still won't have enough team members anyway.

The operation is supposed to have 3 rotating shifts in order to provide support 24x7. That is not exacltly the most ideal work schedule, if you know what I mean. Since there are not enough members, it will likely be 2 shifts. I though, fail to see how that would make any difference in being able to support a 24x7 operation.

It's more than likely that if there are any problems, I will be blamed for them. It's very easy to point out that my Japanese is not good enough and nobody can argue with that. Nobody will ever say the other person was unclear. Though I have seen times where Japanese could not understand what some other Japanese person was explaining. When the subject and the context is already understood, it is easy to confer the meaning of what is being said in Japanese. So if a person were to expain to anther person the situation and then what was said, that other person would understand it easily. And then they could both blame me for not understanding what was said. They would never think that the context was unclear in the first place. No. There is a foreigner involved, so it is automatically his fault. Enough thinking.

So I invite all of you to cast your bet. How do you think it will turn out? Will I be cut at the end of the month or will I continue? Will I even make it to the end of August? Will I be extended for one extra month, until they find more people, and then cut? What's going to happen?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Bone Conduction Headphone Vonia EZ-4200P

I received 2 comments on my last post! Thanks :-)

Have you heard about the new headphones that you listen to through your skull? It's called Bone Conduction Headphone.

I am really interested in trying this out. If it does not make your ears tired, it would probably be good for language learning. I would put one lesson on repeat and listen to it for 10 hours a day. It would be passive listening but it should sink in pretty well.

I like to try before I buy, so I might have to go to Akihabara this weekend to try it out. Although, I'm afraid I might like it and then I'd have to part with my money!

Update (7/21/07): I went to Akihabara to see these headphones.
To sum up my feelings in two words: False-Advertising!
The headphones do produce sound. You can hear it with the headphones not touching your bone. Just hold them away from your head and you can hear it.
Also, I couldn't hear very well at all with it not on my ears. Probably the same as regular headphones. Certainly not very good at all. I was very disappointed. It just seems like a gimmick and completely false claims. I didn't buy the headphones, of course.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Not fair

I slept about 6 hours last night. So naturally I was a bit tired today. This evening I listened to my Chinese lessons for an hour. I became pretty sleepy. So I go to bed on time, but then I'm not sleepy anymore. I lied in bed for 45 minutes and decided to get back up.

I just hate that. No energy, tired, go to bed and no sleep. No longer sleepy. Just waste time lying in bed. So tonight I won't get enough sleep again. If only I didn't have to work. Then I could stay up until I'm good and tired and then sleep a good sleep.

Maybe I should count sleeps. 1 sleep. 2 sleep. 3 sleep. Oh, wait. That's supposed to be sheep. 1 sheep. 2 sheep. Red sheep. Black sheep. Blue sheep. Bo Peep. Sleep, sleep, sleep.

Does anybody read my blog anyway?


I didn't think so.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Mobile is cool

It's kind of cool to look at my vox blog from my PDA. But it's even cooler
to write in Japanese from my PDA!