Back to Karuta


By Jazmin Angel-Guzman

We are back to Japanese Plus year two school year! We are starting off with a game of Karuta, a game where a speaker sings Japanese poems and the players have to look for a card that matches what the speaker sings. It was my first time playing Karuta, and it helped me get back to reading hiragana as review. Hiragana is one of the three Japanese scripts for writing. I did not know how competitive Karuta is until I saw my teammates and the other players kept on snatching the Karuta cards within nanoseconds. I barely had enough time to read some of the Karuta cards myself.

Playing a game with my classmates made me feel happy that I got to see them again. I hope that this year all of us can grow and achieve things together. Hopefully, this year we would have the opportunity to go to Japan and make a lot of memories! I am also happy to see my teacher Eshita Sensei and my coordinator Sally Schwartz again.

Almost done for the year

Jazmin Angel-Guzman

On Saturday, we went to the Japanese restaurant Rakuya at Dupont Circle. It was the second to last official day of Japanese Plus. Initially, I was really sad and torn apart that we were about to end Japanese Plus I. But I remembered that I’m coming back for Japanese Plus II. Going to this luncheon made me see how special my class is. My Japanese Plus class consists of students from all over the city and different DC schools, making me meet new people.

I had a blast going out to eat with my class. I ordered egg noodles with shrimp tempura and for my drink, ramune. By the end, I was so full I had to wait a few minutes in order to walk! It was a nice way to close out the school year, but it was surreal that it was our last luncheon together as a class of 2019. I wish I could repeat the day again not only to eat food one more time but spend time with my class one last time.

Our final presentation

By Jazmin Angel-Guzman

On May 29th, it was our Japanese Plus final presentations. The minute I walked in to Sumner School, the place we had our presentations, I had butterflies in my stomach. I was so nervous and I thought I wasn’t ready enough to perform our skits. The reception was nice, because we had food and interacted with our guests. I talked about the KAKEHASHI Project (our trip to Japan in 2018) with the photos we had, until it was about that time to perform. Although, there was a problem that I encountered.

On the day that I had to bring socks because I was going to take off my shoes for my skit, I didn’t because I forgot. I was very reluctant putting my feet where we were going to perform, because it was carpet. Before the few minutes we had to perform, I was thinking of a plan to not put my feet on the carpet, but still trying to show the cultural aspect in the skit – the cultural aspect of taking off shoes before entering someone’s home in Japan. But meeting a dead end, I decided I had to go with it and put my feet on the carpet for a few seconds and sit down for the last scene. We also had to present our reflections, which I wasn’t that prepared for either.

At the end of the program, I felt less nervous and we were given our certificates of completing Japanese Plus I. I felt happy for being a part of Japanese Plus, and growing in many ways during the program. I can’t wait to start Japanese Plus II next year. Although, I was sad that these were some of the last moments of the program, and I know I’ll miss it.

Jazmin’s Final Reflection

By Jazmin Angel-Guzman

One major thing I have learned in Japanese Plus is the importance of language learning. Before I came to Japanese Plus, my hobby was self-learning languages, but I didn’t learn much about the cultural implications within a language. What I mean by cultural implications is that there’s more to language other than grammar, sentence structure, etc. That is just the surface of the language, but there is also more to learn by asking why do you say this? Or why do you say that instead of this?

I’ve learned that there can be so many ways to say thank you in Japanese depending on how formal you are. I’ve experienced that too within my household and my family. There are certain things that I can’t say to my mother because I’m formal to her. There are different forms of saying “you” in Spanish, but I wouldn’t say the casual form to her. Learning some of the cultural implications in the Japanese language has made me appreciate more of the cultural aspect of Japan.

The cultural implications have also made me learn from my experience when I went to Japan in February of 2018. I went to Japan with the KAKEHASHI Project and fortunately I stayed with a wonderful host family – although back then my Japanese was so limited I could barely say thank you, somewhat formally. I would say “arigato gozaimasu.” It wasn’t until Japanese Plus, that I could say thank you really formal. You would say, “Domo arigato gozaimasu.” Although the addition was just “domo,” it was such a significant snippet that was added to the formality of the phrase to the extent it changes the casual to more formal. I remember my host dad saying my Japanese was good, but for me I still felt kind of guilty I didn’t know much Japanese.

Japanese Food Unit

By Jazmin Angel-Guzman

In our Japanese Plus 1-Inu class, we are wrapping up unit two – food! My group and I are the usagi group. The members of my group are Alexx, Kenny, and Angel. Our final task for the food unit is to make a video with our group of what we usually eat, or foods pertaining to specifically DC, and even American food. We decided to show breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the video to show the foods we eat at different times of day.

As for breakfast we went to IHOP, and we had our scripts with us. In addition, one member of my group and I had to share pancakes. It took several cuts to make the “cut,” because we wanted to get good scenes, so that it’ll show up in our video. For lunch we made spaghetti tacos. As for this idea, when we were thinking about lunch ideas, I remember mentioning spaghetti tacos from Icarly, a TV show on Nickelodeon, and boom, next thing you know we were going to make spaghetti tacos, at one of our member’s house. As for dinner we went to Boli’s Pizza to get a jumbo slice pizza after class on a Wednesday.

Initially, I was reluctant to even do this video project, because I’m not really good in videos, and because we had to speak in Japanese. Having a camera in front of me is not a beautiful picture. But seeing my group members with me, they encouraged me. For example, the video we have now wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the amount of retakes we took. I consider myself playing a role in messing up, but simultaneously I was having fun.

One of the successful things that happened in the making of this video was that we finished earlier than the due date because we thought we only had like three days to do it. So we kind of did it consistently without many gaps in the process making.

One of the things this video project has taught me is that group work is important and that by working together you can produce something amazing that can blow your mind like it did mine.

Hiragana

By Jazmin Angel-Guzman

It’s the time of year where we switched alphabet gears and moved on to Hiragana. Hiragana is the Japanese writing system for non-foreign words. As a class, we have mastered Katakana, the Japanese writing system for foreign loan words. Since we learned Katakana first, which is written with straight lines and is more angular, learning Hiragana now is a little bit more difficult for me. The reason being is that the Hiragana alphabet is more curvy, not really straight, and some of the characters look like Katakana characters which sometimes can be tricky to differentiate. For example, the Katakana character for “se” is セ but the Hiragana character for it is せ.

The ways that help me learn Hiragana is through quizlet, because it allows me to review the characters and it helps me get familiar with them. Another thing that helps me learn Hiragana is the amazing packet my Japanese teacher, Eshita Sensei, provides for us. Not only does it have a whole table of all of the Hiragana characters, but also it has sentences and exceptions within the Hiragana alphabet system that should be taken into consideration. I need to use more of my Katakana and Hiragana pink book as a resource, because I’m not exploiting its use. The book is called Japanese Hiragana & Katakana for Beginners by Timothy G. Stout. Hopefully, I’m really looking forward to mastering Hiragana as well, if I study more and practice writing them. But again, it is all about the process of learning it!

Sharing appreciation

Before winter break, we asked students to take time to express appreciation or recognize the accomplishments of one or two of their Japanese Plus classmates. The results:

Angel: Asa, thanks for always having a smile on your face. It’s really nice talking to you. You make the learning environment brighter.

Maria: I like how Angel tries hard and takes lead of our group. I also appreciate how both Carlos and Luis did the performance the other day alone.

Cyrus: I like hearing Alexx and Theo’s Japanese, because it sounds close to what I’ve heard in media.

Asa: I’m thankful for the encouragement of Lucca for helping me practice and also Che for being the person to help lighten the mood and make me laugh.

Chetachukwu: Carlos is a nice and funny person. It is really helpful and helps me grow educationally. Asa is a funny soul and I like her skirts.

Alexx: I’d like to thank Che for always being on point. She did a lot for our group and was really responsible. I’m glad I have her in my group. I’m also thankful for Gabe who always works really hard. He inspires me to push myself even harder.

Gabe: Jonah, keeping the class always positive and giving heartfelt thanks to visitors. Alexx, for helping a ton in my group, especially during the skit.

Jazmin: I would like to thank Theo and Elena for helping me a lot when learning my katakana. They always make me laugh, and I’m glad to have them in my group.

Katie: I’m really happy that Asa is here with me since she told me about this program and that she’s been with me this whole entire time, even if I am annoying to her. I’m also really happy that Jazmin is here since I can ask her about Japan since she has been there and that she is someone I know who can be there for me.

Jonah: Carlos is very optimistic and a good friend always willing to help. Kenny seems to always want to learn and never bummed and is fun.

Arjernae: I’m proud of Alayshia for being dedicated and not quitting even with people telling her to. I’m proud of Cyrus because he’s one of the few people I see and he acknowledges me when I come to class. Also he’s becoming more open and not as shy as he was in the beginning.

Theo: Jazmin is a very hard worker and I really respect her drive. Alexx has a strong grasp on the language and I find her very impressive in general.