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Communication Rooms are a great way to practice speaking in a foreign language. There are Communication Rooms in multiple languages and a variety of themes available on each campus.
SUP! Language Exchange Get matched with a partner who speaks a language you're interested in, then practice each other's language in one-on-one sessions.
自律学習サポートデスク Language Learning Support Desks自律学習サポートデスクでは、BBPファシリテーターの教員が一般的な英語ライティングサポート、英語全般に関する相談に対応します（授業の課題についての相談は、授業の担当教員にしてください）。Reservation
The BBP Facilitators at the Language Learning Support Desks are there to help you with questions you may have about general English studies or English writing. (Please note that you’ll need to make an appointment via this site.)
The Intercultural Advisor will help you with questions and concerns related to study abroad, intercultural exchange opportunities and understanding, and adjustment into campus life.
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03.31British CondimentsChris Pond
03.24Academic Skills For Life-long Knowledge: Words on Personhood, Culture and Identity Part 3 of 3
In the previous post, we highlighted the plights of sexual, gender, racial, and ethnic minorities in Japan. There may be a veil of illusion over Japan’s society to both its own citizens and people abroad that masks what these minorities are facing. Agency is, of course, a powerful act and while the marginalized have limited agency, they should be empowered to tell their own stories from their point of view and define these terms according to their most authentic emotions. Creating discourse within the society is an important tool for social change. Japan’s historical construction of identity as a nation, what this implies in regards to Japanese mainstream and minority identities alike, and what kind of position it has put Japanese society in the context of international relations, entailed fruitful discussions and discourses concerning Japan’s introspection, essentialism of cultures, be it of Japan’s or otherwise, civil societies, diasporic identities, and defining the center and periphery. Regardless of spatial and temporal boundaries, resisting constraints, seeking identities, claiming agency, and initiating movements involved decentering the center to make way for the periphery. The many actors within Japan’s periphery and its center demonstrated that differences will always exist between and amongst individuals. Even more significantly, differences remain even amongst those that, in theory, are supposed to belong to the same peripheral group. In other words, a periphery and a center will always exist in some form or another since without one the other cannot exist. This can be challenging at times, and in many societies, it is precisely these differences that generate segregation, discrimination, and hardship. Yet it is clear that without differences, little space would be left for individuals to learn and grow.
Identity cannot be explained by a single word or two. Identity and all of its concepts is an attempt to explain how humans yearn to make sense of this world and ways in which our existence is truly interconnected. In our current world, are many of us not diasporic people in one sense or another regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and social class, intimidated to a certain extent by the uncertainties of our own being and belonging? The dilemma of questioning one’s uniqueness is not only the case for the Japanese but also the world’s population as a whole. The mixtures of cultures, upbringing and even the traces of locations where the individual has been to, can truly separate them even from their own supposed place of “belonging” in other groups. However, it also signifies the possibility of that individual to connect with a wider range and variety of people from different constructions of identity as well. After all, the line between segregation and inclusion of individuals is extremely thin. The fluidity of the human body, mind, and soul is truly breathtaking to the extent that it enables its possessor to be segregated from yet also integrated into multiple forms of culture, society, and even class, whether it might be based on an empirical reality or even an imagined community.
Photo Credit: (firstname.lastname@example.org)Jackie Kim-Wachutka
03.17Academic Skills For Life-long Knowledge: Words on Personhood, Culture and Identity Part 2 of 3
Discovering a sense of self and belonging, allowing social forces to take hold, is through the humanistic emotion of what every person has felt at one time or another – love. Love is a very complex thing and it can happen to anyone at any point in time. Love, for example, for an elderly woman, is coming back home and seeing her grandchildren happy, and love for a young man is riding his motorbike. People feel something beautiful when they talk about something or someone they love, and love is the thing that binds social beings and forces together.
On the other hand; however, we form communities and seek a sense of belonging due to the underlying driving force of fear. People are afraid of being social outcasts and feel helpless in a growing disconnected society. Furthermore, we construct identity in response to challenges. Natural disaster, for example, served as a driving force to unite people together through the construction of “victim” identity. There can also be cultural challenges, such as foreign economic and cultural domination. It seems that people can also use and manipulate identities for securing social well-being. In the process of modernization and the making of nations and ethnicities, it is clear that the construction of shared identity helps to unify people. However, this is only one side of the picture. It is dangerous to think that all people have an equal level of agency in constructing their preferred identity. In many cases, people fall victim of other people’s construction of their “superior identity.” In the modernization process, the making of “us” is inevitably accompanied by the construction of “other.” While sometimes the “other” is the powerful West, there are cases in which the domestic “other” – the minority groups in a nation state – becomes the victim of discrimination and suppression. To put it differently, when the majority group builds the ideology of superiority, the minority group automatically becomes the victim whose identity is categorized as inferior.
However, identity is a fluid concept. If we take a thorough observation of identity formation in different generations, we can see different reasons for constructing an identity. In the case of Zainichi Koreans or Nikkeijin, some in the later generations have chosen to retain their “roots” and identity and prefer not to assimilate into the “homogeneous” Japanese society. It can be argued that their cultural roots offer them shelter and a signifier in which they can find a sense of belonging as they pursue a society that recognizes and respects the difference.
Minorities in Japan such as the Nikkeijin, Zainichi Koreans, Muslims, and also Japanese minorities such as day laborers, women, and LGBT people and their activism reveal Japan’s transition into a multicultural society that aims to create an environment more open to change and accepting of differences. It is clear that learning about the existence of this growing diversity through education will help start that shift to making Japan a comfortable living environment for everyone. Even if minorities feel integrated in society, it will not work unless the Japanese people also feel comfortable with minorities and foreigners in their midst. People fear what is perceived as “different.” But if the consciousness that we are all people and we should not be segregated or discriminated against is nurtured through education, it will create a society where marginalized individuals will no longer feel unwelcome due to “difference.” Does the term/category “Japanese” even hold any meaning anymore? Multicultural theorist Bhikhu Parekh writes that a multicultural society cannot be connected by ethnicity, race, religion, etc. because the society is simply too diverse. Instead, it must be connected by a common political agenda. This entails having shared political goals and forming a political community. What are some concrete political goals? One could be changing the existing system to create a more tolerant and accepting society by accommodating ethnicities and cultures of the “others.” It can also mean that true acceptance of diversity entails an understanding that people relate to others who stem from similar life experiences and those who are different can more easily discover that sense of empathy with other people who are different.
To be continued next week.
Photo Credit: (email@example.com)Jackie Kim-Wachutka
03.10Academic Skills For Life-long Knowledge: Words on Personhood, Culture and Identity Part 1 of 3
My first year students of the College of International Relations’ Global Studies Program Spring 2019, who stem from twelve different countries, worked hard for one year obtaining important academic skills that will launch them forward into their academic paths. Below I compiled a summary of their thoughts on personhood, identity, culture and society.
Global Studies Academic Skills Spring 2019
What does it mean to contemplate upon one’s identity within society? Various philosophers and thinkers, including Emile Durkheim, C. Wright Mills, Erving Goffman, Karl Marx, Benedict Anderson, Jürgen Habermas, and others have presented a glimpse of selves within society such as individual and collective identity, the structure of society, agency, culture as a map of meaning, sociological imagination as the intersection of history and biography, identification and interpellation, race and discrimination, and multiculturalism, to name a few. Encountering some of these theories, it is overwhelming and simultaneously astonishing how our nature is manipulated by society. We are creatures who are driven to spend the vast majority of our lifetime “killing” our identity amongst the constraints of the society to secure our positions. Basically, many theories tell us that the identity of a person is not constructed by the individuals themselves, but by society. And it seems that each individual has little or no agency to resist the constraints of society due to the fear of isolation. But is this true? Is an individual’s identity simply managed and manipulated by society? Do individuals act only within the constraints of society, and do people have little or no agency to construct their own identities or create their own destinies?
Social movements within Japanese society tell another story – they reveal moments where people have resisted their socially constructed identities. For instance, the Nikkei-Brazilians in Japan broke out from the assumptions that they were racially homogenous to the Japanese by forming their own community and emphasizing their Brazilian-ness through language, custom, and culture; the marriage migrants in Yamagata prefecture had challenged their conventional stereotypes as passive victims who need help to become active agents who can make a contribution to spread multiculturalism in the community; and the “tōjisha” movement by Japan’s LGBT community introduced people who claimed human rights and legislation for lesbians, gays, transgender, and bisexuals. At first glimpse the constraints from society seem to minimize individual agency to construct one's own unique identity. However, regardless of the constraints, people display agency by opposing what society dictates, elucidating each person’s unique life story that empowers an individual to resist and break free from the constraints of society to make it a better place.
The understanding of identity in different social contexts is important for every individual in the world to make sense of who they are and where they belong. Through examining the origin of identity formation, it also becomes clear how discrimination and marginalization can be formed and how individuals, communities and societies can encounter these issues in a contemporary world where a growing number of marginalized citizens and non-citizens try to position themselves. Why do human beings form communities and seek a sense of belonging? Perhaps the underlying driving force is fear – human beings are afraid of being social outcasts and feel helpless in a competitive and ever-changing society. Seeking identity then may be in response to social transitions and challenges. But also identity and belonging are sought because of a desire to find a place within society.
To be continued next week.
Photo Credit: (firstname.lastname@example.org)Jackie Kim-Wachutka
03.03Phrases from Shakespeare's WorksHi, there. I’m Yumi Yamamoto. How was your winter holiday?I really love Holiday Season because the atmosphere reminds me of my happy memories in the UK back in 2010-2011. I was studying English literature at Bristol University then. As a student, I had to read a certain amount of books or papers every week. While reading them, I often encountered idioms which I couldn’t understand from the literal meaning. Gradually, I found out they came from the Bible or older literature. They are still used in literature, and even in daily conversation. Today, I’d like to show you such expressions from 16th century literature: the phrases rooted in Shakespeare’s works.By the way, do you know Shakespeare? Shakespeare is the greatest writer in the history of British literature and his works have been read worldwide. You must have heard of “Romeo and Juliet”, “Othello” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. They are all his works.1. Let’s start with this expression. “Love is blind” from The Merchant of Venice, Act II, Scene VI."But love is blind, and lovers cannot see the pretty follies that themselves commit, for if they could Cupid himself would blush to see me thus transformèd to a boy." — JessicaThis phrase became popular after Shakespeare used it in his play, The Merchant of Venice. It’s a well-known phrase in Japanese, too. This three-word phrase means that people only see the virtues and ignore the vices. Everyone can be blind when they’re in love. Have you experienced that?2. Love is one of the fundamental feelings. This is another expression about love. "Green-eyed monster” from Othello, Act III, Scene III"O, beware, my lord, of jealousy! It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock the meat it feeds on." — IagoSince Shakespeare used this metaphor, green has become the color of jealousy.By the way, the game Othello, which was invented by a Japanese company, is named after this Shakespeare play. The black and white pieces symbolize the two main characters. The protagonist of this play is a dark-skinned commander, Othello, and his wife, Desdemona, was a white lady. Isn’t it interesting?3. We can find a famous saying from Shakespeare even in a widely-known children’s book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. “Off with his head" from Richard III, Act III, Scene IV"If? Thou protector of this damnèd strumpet, talk'st thou to me of "ifs"? Thou art a traitor—Off with his head." — Richard IIIThe protagonist of the historical play, Richard III orders his vassal to execute the Lord of Hastings in the Tower of London. Richard III is described as a cunning and cruel leader. In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts shouts this when she’s dissatisfied. I wouldn’t like to have that person in my real life, but it’s fun to see in a drama.4. The last expression is a humorous one if you use it in conversation. "It’s Greek to me" from Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene II"Nay, an I tell you that, Ill ne'er look you i' the face again: but those that understood him smiled at one another and shook their heads; but, for mine own part, it was Greek to me." — CascaNext time you have something you can’t understand, perhaps you should use this phrase, “It’s Greek to me.” You can use this when you hardly understand the contents of the story because it is too complicated or full of technical words. This is a more interesting way to describe your situation than saying “I don’t know” or “I didn’t get it.”Have you found your favorite? I hope you’ll enjoy these expressions in conversation. If you’re interested in phrases like this, you can find out more at the first website below. Enjoy!The Phrase Finder. The website shows 135 phrases from Shakespeare’s works.https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/phrases-sayings-shakespeare.htmlShakespeare’s Biography. If you want to know more about Shakespeare:https://www.britannica.com/biography/William-Shakespeare Shakespeare’s Globe Theater.If you want to see Shakespeare’s plays in London:https://www.shakespearesglobe.com/Photo Credit (Mike@pexels.com)Yumi Yamamoto
02.25Insect hunting in RyuouHave you ever watched the NHK TV program, “Kagawa Teruyuki no Konchu Sugoize” [https://www.nhk.or.jp/school/sugoize/]? In the TV program, Kagawa Teruyuki, a famous Japanese kabuki actor and an insect geek, catches insects such as dragonflies and butterflies while lecturing about their habits. The show has become very successful and popular in the last few years. One reason is that it reminds viewers of their childhood when they stayed outside all day with a butterfly net to catch rare insects such as the giant dragonfly (‘oniyanma’), rhinoceros beetle (‘kabutomushi’) and stag beetle (‘kuwagata’). When you watch the show and get the urge to go for an insect hunt, Ryuoh is an ideal destination for your trip. Ryuoh, a town with a population of 12,000 in Shiga prefecture, has rich natural surroundings that nurture a wide variety of insects and other creatures. Let me introduce some of them.If you get tired of bright neon lights in big cities, visit Ryuoh at night from late May to early June. Hundreds of greenish-yellow lights of fireflies in the dark sky will relax you. But watch your steps so you won’t stamp on jumping frogs and crayfish walking across the road along rice fields.When rainy season is over in July, it is time to catch symbolic summer insects: the rhinoceros beetle and stag beetle. Find a copse and look for sap from trees at night. If you are the first visitor to the spot that night, you are likely to find them with little effort. Even if you are impatient and cannot wait for the sunset, some types of stag beetles might be waiting for you in the afternoon, too. But watch out for hornets.Even if you are not a big fan of insects and do not want to see them, it is a good idea to visit the place in early fall. You can see golden rice fields under moonlight with the beautiful music of bell crickets hiding in the grass. You also might have a chance to meet foxes and raccoon dogs on the way.Except for winter, Ryuoh is one of the best places for the adventure of an insect hunt. No interest in insects? No problem. Ryuoh is still a nice place for a visit. Yummy cheese, ice-cream [http://www.kokabu.co.jp], omi beef [https://www.okakihonten.jp] and an outlet mall [https://mitsui-shopping-park.com/mop/shiga/english/] are there for you.Photo Credit: Pixabay@pexels.comYoshitaka Seto
02.18Is “Piiman” pepper?A dictionary is a helpful tool to automatically transform a word of your language into a word of a foreign language. For example, when you look up the Japanese word piiman in a Japanese-English dictionary, you will find green pepper or bell pepper. According to this result, a piiman is a kind of pepper. Is it correct? There are a few pepper-related words in English. For example, chili pepper, black pepper, and green pepper. They are all pepper. In contrast, Japanese assign different names to these three plants: tougarashi, koshoo, and piiman.Chili pepper was introduced in the 16th century from Portugal. At that time, European merchants were routed via China to Nagasaki, so it has been called tou-garashi, which means karashi “mustard” of tou “China”. The noun karashi “mustard” comes from the adjective karashi “spicy” in old Japanese. In Japanese, mustard has been representative of spicy things.The word pepper originally meant black pepper, which was very important trade goods in the 15th century. Christopher Columbus was so eager to find the trade route to India that he misunderstood the spicy vegetable in the new continent as pepper in India. As a consequence, English integrated chili pepper into the category of pepper, so they don't have a word that directly means the red vegetable.By the way, piiman sounds similar to piment (/pimɑ̃/) in French. It is said that piiman first appeared in the Meiji period when Japan started to import it from the U.S., so it is mysterious why Japanese adopted a French-like sound, not an English-like sound, for the green vegetable then. In French, piment is a general term for chili pepper and green pepper, and black pepper is excluded from the conceptual area the word piment covers. In this sense, assigning the word piiman, which sounds like piment, to the green vegetable is more accurate than the word pepper.Back to the first question, you might conclude that it is not appropriate to call the green vegetable pepper, and it is better to use the word piment instead. However, the usage was not conventionalized in the history of English. Inconveniently, we cannot use words that the language does not permit us to use. That's language.Photo Credit: Lisa Fotios@pexels.comTetsuta Komatsubara
02.11Motivation Versus DisciplineDuring my teaching career, I have had multiple students ask me questions along the lines of ‘What are good ways to learn English?’ and I often used to answer that having some form of motivation, be it intrinsic or extrinsic, may help. Yet over the years, I have come to believe that discipline is a much more important and beneficial quality for learning, not only English but many things in life. So let’s look at why this is so.Motivation is a wonderful concept to take advantage of when it occurs. It gives us unusual powers of focus and productivity. So we should definitely use that when it’s around but motivation is finite, so when you’re looking to change something in your life: Let motivation inspire you, but don’t expect it to stick around. Focus on building disciplined actions around those things you want to learn. Get specific in what “discipline” will look like for your specific targets or aims.Humans are generally creatures of habits and we often create routines and rhythms in our daily lives. By understanding how we establish and practice habits each day, we can figure out how to implement beneficial ones (and lessen burdening ones). By this I mean when we begin something new, we must focus a lot of our brainpower on it because it’s out of the ordinary and we are learning how to do that thing. But as we repeatedly do it, we need to devote less and less conscious brain activity to it until it eventually becomes second nature. An example of this is walking. As infants when we learn to walk, our brains focus on trying to put one foot forward then the other and it takes effort, but gradually, because we do it repeatedly and from small steps first, we no longer have to think about those actions. It becomes second nature and frees up our brains to focus on new activities.So when studying the same principles can be applied: creating discipline and routines can be very important. Even, at first, if it is just a simple activity for two weeks of sitting yourself down at a desk and just opening a book and reading for 5 minutes, then we gradually increase the intensity of time and effort, and these actions will become routine. Then you will find yourself automatically doing these tasks as time goes by. The key is the discipline though, we have to make the time to do these activities regularly and consistently, then eventually improvements will be made.Motivation is good at inspiring us to start something, but discipline will be the quality that keeps us pushing towards our goals.Photo Credit: Plush Design@pexels.comAndrew Dowden
02.04Principles of Weight TrainingA holiday tradition that is not so common in Japan is making a New Year’s resolution. The Cambridge dictionary defines a New Year’s resolution as “a promise that you make to yourself to start doing something good or stop doing something bad on the first day of the year.” Some of the most common resolutions concern health, and many people decide to get in shape by joining a gym. In January many gyms and health clubs will be filled with new members, but by Valentine’s Day most of them will have quit. Why? There are a variety of reasons why someone might quit; ranging from the time required to the expense, but many people will quit because they are dismayed with the results of their hard work. These people might go to the gym three times a week for one month only to see a little muscle growth, or a slightly smaller waistline. The likely reason why these people are disappointed in their results is because they do not understand some basic principles of weight training. To build muscle it is important to understand four principles of weight training: hypertrophy, progressive overload, calories in versus calories out, and the importance of compound exercises.The first important concept to understand is hypertrophy which is defined as increase in bulk, through the thickening of muscle fibers. A common misconception is that muscles are made in the gym. In reality however, weight training damages the muscles, creating micro-tears in the tissue. These micro-tears heal themselves when one sleeps, creating a bigger and stronger muscle.Progressive overload was originally defined by DeLorme and Watkins (1948) as “the need for greater demands to be placed on the body during successive workouts over time if improvement is to be achieved.” In other words, it is necessary to work a bit harder than last time every time one goes to the gym. To achieve progressive overload, variables that can be manipulated include: weight, volume (number of repetitions or sets), rest time, speed, and frequency.In order to build muscle, the body requires adequate nutrition, which is commonly referred to as “calories in versus calories out.” This means that if one burns more calories than they eat they will lose weight. If one burns less calories than they eat then they will gain weight. Therefore, in order to build muscle it is necessary to take in more calories than the body requires for maintenance.Finally, an important principle that beginners should know is the difference between compound and isolation movements. Compound movements are exercises which use several body parts at once such as squats, barbell rows, bench press, etc. Isolation movements are those which exercise only one or two body parts at once such as arm curls. For building overall strength and mass, compound movements have been shown to be superior.This is a brief introduction to some key concepts in weight training. For more information, check out some books or videos on YouTube. You do not need to have all the answers before you begin training. Just go to the gym and start working out!Photo Credit: Victor Freitas@pexels.comJohn Syquia