Christmas countdown!

Okay okay, so, today technically we start the twelve days of Christmas countdown. So how will we count those days? With cookies!? No way!! but with parties!.. yes! that's right celebrating fabulous Christmas for each day leading up to the holiday can be wonderful whether your are with family, friends or attending to the so called "enkai", you must enjoy this Christmas the best you can! Lets's have a great Christmas party.
 Good idea! isn't it!? Don't miss the chance ending up this year without learning or improving your second language! See you!

glass or cup!?

A few days ago one of my students ask me the difference between glass and cup, at that time I just gave him a glib answer, saying that generally we differentiate glasses from cups based on their shape, so we can say that there are glasses that are made not only from glass but also from paper or plastic, as well as there're cups not only used for hot drinks but also for cold drinks as well as for taking measures. I could keep on telling examples like; there are cups also called mugs because they're usually bigger and heavier than regular cups which are lighter, like glasses but that can be used for both hot and cold drinks while glasses are generally used only for cold drinks and so on.. But I'm not going to go so deep in to that, like I say simple is best, and as well as you get through with basic and simple vocabulary there's no need to worry about complicated and unnecessary details, so I'm gonna say just what I told to my student at class "The difference between glasses and cups are based on their shape" and that's it, you named as you feel ease at that moment, the most important is to communicate smoothly and not to intricate in small details. Instead I'd like to talk of something more interesting as could be "wine glasses or cups for wine".
  Consider glassware. Seriously, it's something every wine lover needs. Considering that we tend to break glasses on a regular basis, even if we started the year with a full cupboard, there is always a time to replenish our supplies. So what kind of glasses should you buy for your wine lover? That's an interesting and somewhat complex question that I can only begin to answer. So let me tell you what kind of glasses you can buy for me! To begin with, I generally use only two styles of glassware: Burgundy and Bordeaux, as they are roughly known. I don't see the need for specific glasses for Syrah, Chianti, Viognier and Ripple, though you could probably find one for each. So here I found this video that is as good as hilarious, I'm sure you'll get a good time watching it and at the same time you'll get some good tips on what to look for and what to buy when shopping for glassware this holiday season.
 Check it out!      
 Cheers! And Marry Christmas!

Real VS Accurate Pronunciation.

I've been teaching English over the past 8 years in Japan, private and group lessons,
beginner and advanced, experience have told me that to became a real bilingual, you have to start by mimic native speakers, is not important what they say but how the sound. The first step to acquire a real English pronunciation is by imitation.
  Notice that I say "Real" and not "accurate" because accurate pronunciation is different from real, "accurate pronunciation" is easier and anyone can easily learn it, because is more phonetic such as Spanish, Italian, Rumanian, French and JAPANESE among others unlike English which is based on consonants, and for that, Japanese Students and their peers in similar phonetic languages make a great effort to acquire those new sounds for them.
  So, to learn English with accurate pronunciation you do not even need a native English speaker, but a good English Teacher (and there are many Japanese who are good teaching English, their grammar is excellent and their pronunciation is accurate, though in most of cases they are not fluent), same happens with electronic dictionaries or e-pencils with voice (like the one implemented by the "Kumon") , but again those won't make you fluent either. to be fluent you need to have a "real" pronunciation, not and accurate pronunciation. Let's face it, native speakers, (most of them) do not speak accurately on regular basis conversation, in any language, and that's why students do not always understand what they say out of the classroom. So to be fluent you need a "real" English pronunciation, how do you do that?
The following are some possible things you can do;
1-living overseas for a while. (in two or three years you'll find the real sounds)
2-having a English teacher, native or not but who has lived overseas and UNDERSTAND the differences between "Accurate" and "Real" pronunciation. And who can teach you both (like me!)
3-Watching a lot Hollywood movies, listening a lot of pop American music and using like crazy the Internet sites where English is Spoken.
And the last and most difficult option is.. 
4-to find a boyfriend or girlfriend who do not speak in Japanese with you.
  I hope this writing can be of some help for you, keep on trying and enjoy English, remember Learning English most be Fun and Interactive! 
Good Luck!


  Don't forget,small talk does not always have to be unrelated to work topics. It may be semiwork-related as well. Questions about what kind of work projects the other person has been involved in or their professional specialization are always interesting conversation fodder. The key thing about small talk is to be genuine, and react in a natural manner. Ask questions about the things the other person mentions that are genuinely of interest to you rather than the things you think you are "supposed" to ask about.
  Show interest and enthusiasm. Don't be afraid to digress on seemingly unrelated topics. The aim is to discover common interests and enjoy the interaction. If you and the other person discover that you both are fans of the Isle of Hawaii as a vacation destination, for example, that's a start and surely you will find other things in common too. And above all, avoid being overly earnest be a real person. Be relaxed, smile and be a pleasant person to be spending time talking with. In The American-style socializing the following are some pointers for business lunches and after-work socializing.
Avoid drinking alcohol at lunch (the "three-martini lunch" of past decades has long been out of style!).

Avoid drinking too much alcohol at after work functions. Although in Japan drinking is de rigueur, in an Ameri- can-style social situation, it's better to avoid alcohol, so that you can keep your wits sharp and be a good conversationalist. Probably better to save the drinking for when you are kicking back with personal friends.

The host should pay for the meal as well as other charges such as a tip for the hatcheck. In the U.S., the preferred seat for the guest is the one with the more desirable view. "Ladies first" rules in the U.S. are less strict nowadays than many Japanese have been led to believe but are good to follow to the extent possible, for example, holding doors for women, holding chairs for women, helping women on with their coats, and allowing women to enter and exit elevators first.
  Mingling, there's an art to circulating at a cocktail party-type function. Strike a balance between talking to people long enough to make a connection, but not "glomming onto them" and monopolizing their time.
 The goal at a cocktail party is to meet several people and make connections that can be followed up on later if there appears to be mutual interest. This means that sensing when to end the conversation and move on to the next person is important. The key question to ask yourself is: Is this a meaningful conversation or does it reek of a sense of duty? If you are feeling bored or the other person looks as if they are feeling bored, it's time to say
"if you'll excuse me I must go and mingle" and gracefully break off the conversation and move on to talk to someone else. By following the above suggestions, you are sure to forge many useful business relationship.

Charm and communication skills.

Making a good first impression. The first key to a good impression is good grooming. Clean, neatly pressed clothes appropriate for the occasion are a must, as is good oral hygiene. Be sure to stand up straight, use a firm handshake and look the other person in the eye. And don't forget to smile!

As for your introduction, keep it simple,such as "Roswalle, nice to meet you." More elaborate explanations about yourself or your background can wait until later in the conversation. Don't be afraid to get the ball rolling with a question to the other person. Something as simple as "what brought you here?" "do you often attend these events?" or "what did you think of the presentation?" are sufficient as a conversation starter. Rather than yes/no questions, ask open-ended questions. Pick something relevant to the event you are at, instead of something random or seemingly unrelated.

Small talk is a good way to get to know someone, especially if your venue is a business lunch or dinner, or you are just chatting before or after a meeting. In addition to displaying your overall charm and communication skills, small talk helps you get to know a person better, and discover things that you have in common, which helps build the business relationship. When making small talk, steer clear of personal or sensitive topics such as religion, finances, politics, race, etc. Don't ask someone's age or marital status. For Japanese, it's best to stay away from stereotypical questions like "do you like Japanese food?" or "can you use chopsticks?" Good conversation topics for small talk include the following: Sports. Americans love to talk about sports, particularly baseball, football and basketball. Asking about the local team is sure to get some kind of reaction.
 For example, ask any Chicagoan if they are a Cubs fan or a Sox fan, and you are sure to have plenty to talk about. Hobbies. Find out what the person likes to do in their spare time. This might be a participant sport, such as golfing, tennis, fishing or running. Or it might be some other activity. If you happen to find out that they share an interest with you, that's the perfect bonding opportunity. Note, however, that native English speakers seldom use the word "hobby" in conversation. It's more natural to ask "What do you like to do in your spare time?"
 Local highlights. If you are visiting somewhere, ask about local sightseeing destinations. "What should I be sure to see while I'm here?" or "What restaurants do you recommend around here?" are good gambits. Children. If the other person has mentioned that they have children, this can be a good topic. Ask about their ages and what activities they are involved in. If you have children, you can share about yours.

A Funny Function devise in Washlets (ウォシュレット Woshuretto?)

 About some time ago I had a student who was the president of a small company manufacturing women’s underwear. Many female workers were working in his company. One day we had a conversation in which he said he had invented some device associated with the toilet. I went to his company to look at the device. The device was an attachment to the women’s toilet to save water.

 His invention appeared to be funny but he was very serious. . In those days his headache was the tremendous water bills sent by the water works department of the City Hall. His company had many female workers. There for the amount of water wastefully used in the toilet was a large quantity and sure this large quantity was reflected in the monthly bills. The women workers were thoughtless in using the toilet water. They were too scatterbrain to recognize that each drop of water was priced, meaning it was not free of charge. Therefore, my student tried to invent a device for preventing the wasting of water. He called the device “water saving device,” and wanted to patent it and sell it all over Japan.. If possible, he wanted to obtain patents overseas. The “water saving device" was a good title, sounding very serious.

 His invention was designed to prevent double flushing by women who were too concern about the residual looks after doing their thing. I visited his company and inspect how the invention worked. He said that he had tested the devise on his wife without letting her know about it. He proposed to demonstrate in my presence how the device worked. He entered to the toilet, and switched on the device. An artificial big sound of water flushing was heard. The sound was so big and long that it was easy to believe that his pissing was perfectly drowned out.. He shouted in a large voice from inside the toilet, can you distinguish? I answered in a loud voice, "Perfectly!".
 A few days later he filed a patent application with the Patent Office, but eventually he abandoned the application. His company went into bankruptcy, and he could not afford to invest on his invention. I don't know whether his invention was successful in reducing the sums of the monthly water bills.. But I'm pretty sure that his invention help others to develop a new function device in the already sophisticated washlet (ウォシュレット Woshuretto?), and which artificial big sound of water flushing is not precisely for saving water but to save the embarrassment of women who doesn't want to be caught when expelling odds sounds from their bowels. See you!
The Death Car, an Urban Legend..
As Halloween day I'd like to talk about ghost stories, or rather say, something a bit more scary as could be “an Urban legend”. But First of all, I have to tell you about what a urban legend is.. The traditional “urban legend” is a kind of modern short story which most people have heard as true stories of real-life experiences, like the typical “Yuurei” stories we know in Japan. A good example of the urban legends is a story about a car and death, commonly called “the Death Car story”. This death car is, as its name suggests, a story about a car associated with a dead person; that is a ghost. In these stories the car is very significant. Here is one example. One day a man from Los Angeles breathlessly told his friend that he could pick up a $5,400 Porsche sports car for only $500. According to him, the reason for the reduced price was that it had been parked in the middle of the Desert for one week with a dead man in it; consequently, the smell of death could not be removed from it. Now, if you want your friend get really scarred, tell him this story when he gets in your car (assuming that's the death car)and see how the color of his face turns pale. This is the bare-bones story with these recurrent motifs: expensive car, low price, suicide or murder, corpse long undiscovered, and lingering smell of death.
 The car is sometimes a Porsche, a Ford, a Toyota, or any other, and the price varies as well as the time in which the dead body was kept undiscovered. At any rate this story about the death car is ubiquitous with many variations in detail. These stories are classified as “urban legends”. In short, an urban legend seems to be realistic, and in fact, people narrate it from generation to generation as a real story. But in their mind they think it isn’t true or.. is it..?

Have a Happy Halloween Day!

The credit and blame words in Japanese.

Recently I've got to my mind a set of words such as recognition, responsibility & reproach. In Japan there is a great number of phrases in which "credit and blame" are embedded right in to the language to asses who is responsible for what happened as well as how the speaker feels about it. The magic words amount others are "Kureru,ageru,Morau,itadaku,saseru,etc". Tagging on these verbs lets the speaker know who should get credit and who should feel thankful for the beneficial action. In the Japanese language these words are often requisite in a natural-sounding Japanese, but in these peculiar forms of expression there is implicit who might be supposed responsible or who is been benefited for something that has been done or said.
As for me, I've got to tell you that as my Japanese improves I've gotten to use more and more these "beneficial words", nevertheless I don't really feel I'm giving some credit to my interlocutor or I'm getting some kind of favor from him, I guess I've increased the use of these words just because I feel that makes me sound more natural when speaking Japanese. They of course doesn't have a counterpart or matching expression in other languages I know (Spanish and Italian beside English of course), we tend to say things or to praise straightforwardly when the situation requires it. Perhaps in English the nearest approximation is with the use of the preposition "on" for example the translation of "Mr. Tanaka ga ame ni furareta " could be "Mr. Tanaka was rained on" but this is an exceptional situation, besides there are more natural expression in English as it could be "Mr. Tanaka got wet or got soaked", I would recommend to stop trying to translate these "credit and blame"words when speaking English and get hand of a new phrase-vocabulary to clearly express what you want to say.

English may be difficult for some Japanese people but you have not idea of how difficult Japanese language could be when it comes to understand not just its words but the nuance hidden in them.
 Good Luck! See you again Bye!
Dial Up, having a good impression.

「もしもし。 こちらはロスウォールと申します。何時もお世話になっております。」 
“Hello, this is Mr.Roswalle. Thanks always for your kind support.”
In a world where good manners and decorum are vanishing almost as fast as the polar icecap, Japan is one country where proper telephone courtesy is still practiced, especially in the business environment.
Armed with my dog-eared copy of the “Japan Yellow Pages," I've
made several calls to government and corporate offices and obtained the information l needed. Granted,l have a rasping voice and speak with a 外国人のなまり(foreign accent)but l make a point of using proper phrases to put the person l was calling at ease.
 Business-related calls generally demand the use of honorifics, and this requires some rote memorization and probably pronunciation drills. Fortunately,however, learning a dozen or so standard phrases will get you through most situations.
 First, obviously, identify yourself and state the purpose of your call. if you're calling a companys  0120フリーダイヤル (toll-free) number, have your reason rehearsed in advance,e・g・, 
l am calling from Kyoto City, where l just purchased a box of your product and its..etc,etc.”
 If you wish to speak to a certain Mr. Sato that works in a big office,
its better to add his first name -
say Hiroshi - so you would ask,
「佐藤 博様 いらしゃいますか」Is Mr.Hiroshi Sato there?
 Perhaps the section or person you're calling has a 
直接番号」“direct dial number. 
If you go through the main switchboard the operator might ask; 
「お客様は?orどちら様でしょうか?」 May l ask whos calling?
"You reply with your affiliation and surname, followed by;
The response is likely to be;
「今御回し致しますので、少々を待ち下さい」“Please wait, I'll transfer you.
 If you are asked 
「ご用件はなんでしょうか?」“What is the purpose of your call?”
You can explain, or simply say;
「“個人的な事です。」It's a personal matter.”
 Say you get put right through, only to be told;
「大変恐れ入りますが。」“I'm very sorry but .”
followed by explanations like
「まだ会社に来ておりません」“He hasnt come in yet.”
「ただいま電話中です・・.」“He's on the other line.
「今ちょっと席を‥はずしておりますが・・」“Hes not at his desk now.
This means hes come to work but is not visible to the speaker.
「本日はお休みを取っております。・・」“He's off today.”
「今出ておりまして、本日は戻らない予定です。・・」“Hes left and probably won't be coming back to the office.”
「本日はもう帰りました・・」“Hes already left for the day.
 A helpful colleague might offer;
「おりかえし電話をさせましょうか?」“Shall l have him call you back? 
To which you can respond;
「いいえ、のちほど あらためて電話致します。」“No,I'll call back later.
 Or you can request that you be called by saying, 
It's an important matter, so I'd like him to return my call urgently.”
When you give your number, note that zero should be pronounced as either 「レイ」or “ゼロ,and never as “oh. four is always pronounced 「ヨン」 since its
other reading, 「シ,」can easily be mistaken for シチ」“seven”.
 If you didn't get through the first time and are calling back, you can say;
「度々(タビタビ)」“Sorry to keep bothering you,”
and then take it from there. 
If the person has been transferred to a new department and you're informed of his or her new number, read it back to confirm you've heard correctly, by saying;
「くりかえします or ふくしょう します。」”let me repeat that,
Followed by the number. 
A few old-fashioned people might still use the words
「市外番号(しがいばんごう)」“city code, e.g. Tokyo 03”
 Finally, it is very important to also end the conversation politely.
You might say;
 「それでは、よろしく」“Please remember me),
And when you hear the other party say;
 「失礼致します」 “I'm going to hang up now.
(Which in this particular case means that), that’s your cue to repeat the same.
Proper telephone etiquette will win favor with the
「電話当番(でんわとうばん)」“the person in charge of answering the phone and relay calls.”
 This in turn can help you cut through red tape to get things done faster and with
Less confusion and frustration.
See you. Bye!

Going deep on words meaning!

Are you "Mame" ?

There are some words in Japanese language that are quite difficult to comprehend for the foreigner people, because even when we know the meaning of the word, we don’t know the background of it. 
That’s the case of the Word “mame”in Japanese, of course anyone who has some knowledge of Japanese would know that the meaning is “bean” however the word “mame” is used by the Japanese with another very different meaning, which we foreigners would never figure up, and that’s because we don’t know the very background of the word.
 I’m very interesting in that kind of words and expressions, because in those words is show up the culture and behavior of Japanese people, which we know is certainly different from us. 
The first time I heard the word “mame” in such terms, it attracted my interest, and almost instantly I asked about it, both of my friend that were with me that time (one of them pronounced the word) couldn’t give me a good example of how to understand the real meaning of this word.
Later I try to find out this meaning at the dictionary, but of course, it doesn’t appear more than “bean” meaning (maybe my dictionary wasn't that good, but any way), so I asked again to one of my Japanese friends, and finally after gave me series of examples that clarified my doubts. 
As for me the most closed translation and use of the word “mame” in English would be “meticulous person”, certainly not quite used in the English speech and it sounds "wordy" but this is the word, as for me it works better to say that someone is "cling on to something" or simple say that someone "gets into it" too much. Time living in Japan has taught that every expression or word has a matching one on the other language of course it has some difference nuance, but I think it can get by to comprehend the second real meaning of this word.

How to Make the Most of Your Voice

Persuasive people, be they leaders, teachers, managers, or sales people, use their voices masterfully to make strong impressions on their listeners. The Oscar winning movie "The King's Speech" really captured how pivotal our ability to speak persuasively can be for our careers. Here are five practices that can help improve your speech and speaking communication.

1. Articulate, articulate, articulate.
If you mumble or slur words, the important points you're trying to make can get lost. Worse, people will simply tune you out.  Mumbling may be a habit, may be something you are just not aware of, or it may be from being nervous.  These factors can be overcome.  The first step is to check - are you a mumbler!  Ask people who you can trust to give you some honest feedback.  The next step is to practice saying things more slowly and more clearly than usual.  At first this will be painful, because it is not your habit.  You must make a new habit though, so please stick with it.  As you become clearer you can speak a little faster than during the transition stage.

2. Vary your tone.
Nothing numbs listeners more than somebody who speaks in a monotone. Project your voice clearly and strongly. Learn to use pitch for variation and accent your power words. This helps keep the audience involved.  Pick out some key words you are going to use, and make a point of hitting those words with emphasis.  This could be done by adding or subtracting volume.  Contrast is what you are searching for.  Using pauses is also effective in breaking up your content, as the silence creates a contrast between pieces of information, and your audience has some thinking time and so a greater chance of following what you are saying.

3. Use the right tempo.
Don't speak in a slow, drawn-out manner and don't talk so quickly, that no one can follow the flow. The speed of speech affects how both you personally and your message are interpreted. Too slow - maybe you don't sound smart, too fast - maybe you don't sound trustworthy.  Talk fast when you wish to convey excitement or urgency. Slow down when you want your words to sink in.  The key is variety by choice for emphasis.

4. Control your volume.
Project your voice so people can hear you easily. Raise and lower your voice when you want to underline certain words or concepts.  Think of a classical music piece you may recall or have heard lately - lots of highs and lows, grabbing our attention.

5. Get rid of speaking "crutches".

Avoid starting or punctuating sentences with um, ah, you know, like, uh, really, kind of and other fillers. (This is usage not voice but it's closely related.) The pattern becomes tiresome to listeners and makes the speaker seem nervous or lazy. Break this habit if you have it. 
Usually, fillers are our poor choice of covering ourselves, while we think what it is we want to say.  There is a much better solution - silence.  Use a pause, to allow you thinking time.  No audience will mind a few seconds of time while you gather your thoughts.  They much prefer that to endless ums and ahs.  Practice getting the first word and first sentence out of your mouth without any fillers.  Just keep doing that and you will break the habit.
It's hard to know how you sound to other people. Try using a voice recorder to record yourself for a few hours. Record conversations in the office and on the phone. Play the recorder, listen to how you sound, and apply the ideas here to make positive changes!  You will sound different on playback to what you actually think you sound like, but that is the same for everyone, so ignore that element and concentrate on what you are saying and how you are saying it - this is the main game.