Enjoy improving yourself!



     Music was being played when I entered the room.

     Last Sunday I took a lecture with two of my friends, who also joined in the one on Diana’s death the day before with me. The title was “It may come to you to be involved in volunteer work for international exchange – Preparing for the sudden chance by everyday training” and it was held under the auspices of AGGN (Aichi Goodwill Guided Network) at Nagoya Port Building near Nagoya Port.

     Those of my friends and I took the lecture too easily before taking it because the lecturer was Japanese and we thought it would be made in Japanese. You know, we took another one in English the day before.

     Yes. The lecturer, Mr. Tetsuhiko Nakanishi is Japanese and the lecture was given in Japanese. But it was too optimistic of us to expect an easy class…

     Mr. Nakanishi is a quite sturdy man, and he looked like a retired pro wrestler for me. His voice was forceful and his lecture was really vigorous. I thought music was being played because of letting the participants relaxed. Maybe it was one of the reasons. But that wasn’t all. Mr. Nakanishi started the lecture with a song entitled “The Music Played”.

          The Music Played

     An angry silence lay where love had been
And in your eyes a look I’d never seen
If I had found the words you might have stayed
     But as I turned to speak the music played

     As lovers danced their way around the floor
I sat and watched you walk towards the door
I heard a friend of yours suggest you stayed
And as you took his hand, the music played

     Across the darkened room the fatal signs I saw
You’d been something more than friends before
While I was hurting you by clinging to my pride,
He had been waiting and I drove him to your side

     I couldn’t say the things I should have said
Refused to let my heart control my head
But I was made to see the price I paid
And as he held you close, the music played
And as I lost your love, the music played.

     All of the participants were given the lyrics and gotten to sing the song together after Mr. Nakanishi explained the meanings. According to him, the song has the vivid image, and it’s important to image something with your memories or knowledge, when you practice speaking English.

     Next he showed 20 sentences in Japanese and let the participants put them into English within 100 seconds. The room went into a kind of panic. Probably most of the participants hadn’t expected that at all like my friends and I.

     Those sentences were not so difficult for translating into English. But I, maybe other participants too, am not used to putting Japanese into English so quickly and can’t utter English from my mouth smoothly. By the way, some of the 20 sentences were as follows.

     The Japanese economy is sluggish.
They are not members of the Democratic Party of Japan.
Typhoon No. 15 is heading for Cape Shiono.
Many people were walking to work.

     After trying to translate 20 Japanese sentences into English within 100 minutes, the participants were given two minutes to memorize some vocabularies which were used in those 20 sentences. And then we retried translating them into English within one minute. Mr. Nakanishi said, “The reason why you can’t even put some easy Japanese into English is because you don’t practice. You need to practice saying.”

     Then we listened to a CD. He asked us what story it was, but I couldn’t reply it at all. I just caught some words such as people, Thursday, September 13th, and land. It seems that other participants couldn’t understand the CD. He let us listen to the CD again. I couldn’t understand the story at all. I was disappointed.

     But he said, “Don’t blame yourself! Enjoy improving yourself! You know, what you listened to was a foreign language, not your native language. You can catch some words, right? People, September 13th, land? Great! You couldn’t have understood even a word if that had been Arabic!”

     So he showed one sentence: The UN General Assembly has adopted a landmark declaration in the rights of the world’s estimated 370-million native peoples following more than twenty years of debate. It was the first sentence of the CD we had heard.

     We made some short sentences with it to understand well as follows.    
     1. The UN General Assembly has adopted an important declaration.
2. The declaration was on the rights of the native peoples in the world.
3. They discussed it for more than 20 years.
4. Native peoples are estimated 370-million in the world.

     Then we made a list of some important vocabularies of the story and tried to memorize them. And we practiced reading the story aloud and telling the story in English by own words to each partner repeatedly. And then Mr. Nakanishi played the CD again.

     The UN General Assembly has adopted a landmark declaration on the rights of the world’s estimated 370-million native peoples following more than twenty years of debate. The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was approved by an overwhelming majority of 143 to 4 with 11 abstentions on Thursday September 13th. The non-binding declaration is designed to forbid discrimination against indigenous peoples, It calls on states to prevent or redress the forced migration of native peoples, the seizure of their land or their forced integration into other cultures.

     Wow! I was able to catch and understand them! Mr. Nakanishi said, “See? You’re happy to find yourself improved, aren’t you?” He recommended making questions and answering to them using the story and doing research in it through the Internet as well. It seems that I need train myself with many methods for speaking English…

     Anyway, I think the lecture was really interesting and instructive for English learners, at least for me!


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