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.

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.

What are you most proud of?

Before winter break, we asked our Japanese Plus students to reflect on their time in the program so far, and to share what they felt most proud of. Here are they answers:

Angel: I’m proud of the onigiri that I made and improving in katakana.

Maria: I am most proud of the self-introductions we have learned.

Cyrus: I guess just being able to talk to new people and not be a complete mess.

Asa: I’m most proud of me mastering katakana but mostly gaining more courage to speak out and meet new people.

Che: The fact that I memorized all my katakana. I know most of my combinations.

Alexx: I’m most proud of my speaking abilities in terms of public speaking. I’m not very good at speaking loud and clear, so I’ve been really happy with how far I’ve come.

Gabe: I went from knowing one Japanese word to being able to introduce myself and knowing katakana.

Jazmin: I’m most proud of my speaking skills, because I’ve improved a lot since the last time Eshita sensei taught me some phrases when I was in “Japan in DC.”

Katie: I’m really proud that we finished learning katakana and mastering it. I really thought it would take a long time to learn.

Jonah: Learning katakana and meeting with new people.

Arjernae: Learning basic Japanese is what I am most proud of (katakana, introduction, writing).

Theo: Probably the feeling of mastery over a different alphabetical system to the point that I recognize meaning relatively quickly.

The concept of Giri

By Jazmin Angel-Guzman

The concept of Giri is very interesting, because it contributes to how Japan wants to preserve as much social harmony as it can. According to Giri, the closest translation is obligation or social duty. If a person gives you a present, then you eventually become indebted to that person or owe them somehow. The balance of Giri has become unbalanced and the relationship will once again become balanced once you give a gift of equal value to the person who gave you a present in the first place. Initially, it was kind of strange to me that on Valentine’s Day girls gave boys milk or dark chocolate. In addition, there are two kinds of chocolates. There is “giri” and “true” chocolate. The “giri” chocolate is when women give men chocolate whom they’re close to due to social obligation. While the “true” chocolate is when women give men chocolate to whom they actually love. Another thing I thought was interesting is “according to one study, the same amount of money is spent on presents in Japan as Americans invest in justice.” This is interesting how gift giving is crucial in Japanese society today and how gift giving can be a cultural aspect.

The Power of Language

By Jazmin Angel-Guzman

We’ve had a few visitors so far this Japanese school year, but the visitors that have impacted me the most were from November 3rd. Initially, before their arrival, I was panicking because we needed to introduce ourselves as we always do, now that we know self-introduction. For me it’s always kind of hard, because I practice a lot to the point that I know it, but when it comes to the moment of actually saying the self-introduction I almost forget. My nervousness impedes me from calming down and making me forget a little, although in the end my self-introduction turned out fine, better than what I was hoping for.

One of the visitors was Yuuki Shinomiya, and he’s the director of Strategy and Chief of Staff at Septeni Global. He works in advertising and with the gaming industry. The other visitors were Hiroyuki and Aoi Takai. Mr. Takai is the Head of the Washington D.C. Office of Sumitomo Corporation and also involved in the Japan Commerce Association of Washington. which is an association of Japanese businesses. There he’s in charge of language education here in Washington D.C., which impacts Japanese Plus because we’re the after-school group in D.C. that studies Japanese as a language. Ms. Takai, on the other hand, talked more about language and culture. She talked about how she studied English through the radio, etc., as a second language, and compared the two different cultures. This was important because she talked about how learning a different language also helped her in career and job, and helped me think about how I would use Japanese language in the future.


For me the visitors impacted me because they made me understand what the power of language really does have and how it’s important, especially in today’s globalized world. I’m always motivated to learn new languages that I’m interested in learning, but the visitors from today inspired me with more motivation to learn Japanese, despite its difficulties. They made me embrace that knowing more than one language is essential and actually like a secret weapon to communicate with many people around the world. Learning new languages can provide different perspectives and lenses on how we can view the world. Therefore, they made me also realize that knowing more than one language can be useful in the future, that it’s definitely worth it to learn Japanese. Which I’m enjoying so far, and I can’t wait to learn more Japanese!