Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Challenge or Torture

Today's blog is about one of my unfavorite topics. "Evaluation." What evaluation am I talking about? It's about the proficiency of English as a foreign language.

I'll tell you the conclusion first. I had two kinds of language certificate examinations in summer and in autumn. It was my New Year resolution. One was the EIKEN Test in Practical English Proficiency and the other was The TOEIC test (Test of English for International Communication). Well the evaluation from the exams were like as follows: I was certified as a holder "pre-1st Grade"(second highest level) from EIKEN and as a holder of 895 scores out of 1,000 from TOEIC. Whew, I did better than I expected. EIKEN is my second and TOEIC my first trial.

These tests are very distinguished ones and performed widely throughout the country. Every year, millions of people mostly students, businessmen and other English learners take either of these tests for getting an admission for a higher education or their own evaluation or better job positions.

In fact, I took my first EIKEN way back when I was a freshman at high school. It was school compulsory. Yap, it's a long time ago! I haven’t had it since then. As for TOEIC. Since it had not been launched yet in my school days, I had never had it before and had not paid too much attention to it. I impudently didn't like the idea. I didn't like taking these kinds of exams and hated that my language ability was judged by scores. I think at that time I was slightly offensive against language proficiency judged by scores. Maybe I was young.

On the other hand, our society gradually had been active in the international world. English language had been required as a communication tool in various fields. With a huge population of studious English learners, these test results became an objective gauge that the learners themselves as well as the third parties could locate one's ability in the whole group. In short, it is that there are too many people with too many levels of English language ability.

That was the reason for my trial. My life for these years became more involved with English language. Being a member of a volunteer interpreter, I had to keep up with my English and to improve it. Sometimes the results of these tests are prerequisite for a requested job. Although I didn't like the score-oriented idea, I knew I was in a situation that I had to know my ability in a huge population of English learners.
I thought studying for the exams basically should be fun to me. Now I think I am quite in it as long as I enjoy studying English. Maybe I'll try out for better results next year.
It's "a challenge" not "a torture." anymore.

Finally some of my friends who are professional and qualified interpreters/translators, tour guides, and language teachers eventually gave me a push to make one step forward. Otherwise, I don't think I accomplished my New Year resolution.

all the images above are from:
TOEIC http://www.toeic.or.jp/toeic_en/index.html
EIKEN http://stepeiken.org/

Friday, December 09, 2011

They are going to make it SOON !

One day this past July, I was on the Net browsing to seek for any chances as a volunteer interpreter. I typed out "volunteer" in a search text box and hit an “Enter.” Well that was when I came across with an amazing “Travel Volunteer Project.” I signed up then and there for a supporter in Aichi.

(for those who missed my previous post about this project, please have a look at here.)

It was really fortunate that the Project team gave me an opportunity to support Katy and Jamie when they got to Aichi as their 20th destination. One thing which impressed me was, well, it must be a very obvious matter for them, but for me, it was their resolution to this project.

I took them to the Toyota Automobile Company on Oct.25, the first day in Aichi. As soon as we were ready to start exploring the exhibition floor, they stopped for the discussion and they quickly walked in the different directions with each camera. Soon they were busy moving around, taking pictures, reading panels and taking notes one after another. Sometimes I lost either of them from my sight. For them this project was not just a lucky pleasure sightseeing but a mission to report for bringing back the tourism after March11 disaster in Tohoku.

The great part of this project is that a selected Travel Volunteer is supposed to appeal to the world every day by way of all kinds of SNS such as a Blog, Facebook and Twitter to introduce what they see. Apparently they came to learn Japan is much bigger than expected from north to south and safe enough to explore the land. Since Jamie is a professional writer and Katy a professional photographer, I see their spirit of the journalists in all over their posts. The posts are very enlightening, informative, well researched. Being sprinkled with his specific way of looking at things, his journals are quite interesting for the Japanese readers as well in terms of learning how the first-time visitors to Japan see our country. And look at Katy’s photos! Always beautiful and stunning! She marvelously sends us her message as well.

I'm sure their Blog will make a very special guide book of Japan!

Last week, they reached to the southernmost destination, Okinawa. Now they’re heading back toward their starting point, Kanazawa. They only have 6 prefectures left as of now. It will be a great moment of the accomplishment for the Project Team not to mention Katy & Jamie. All of the Japanese private/public supporters who participated in this project will surely be overjoyed with this moment, too.

Time flies. Who did ever believe that the “Travel Volunteer” makes a journey to all of the Japanese 47 prefectures in 100 days?

Well, they are going to make it SOON!