Monday, November 29, 2010

Fukuoka Day 15 - Toyonoshima v Kisenosato - Nov. 28, 2010

A great sumo match from the final day of the Fukuoka Basho.

Check out my all-Sumo channel - JasonsinJapan (link on the right hand nav bar) - on YouTube for the final matches from senshuraku - Day 15 of the tournament.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

questions about why I vlog

A college student in America recently emailed me on YouTube via my Myargonauts channel, and asked me if I would answer a few questions about my vlogging experience for a class project.

So here are his questions and my answers.

Thanks for stopping by.


Have you ever felt nervous in front of a camera? Does the nervousness ever go away or is it something you just learn to deal with?

I don't feel nervous just talking to a camera. I do sometimes get nervous talking in front of large groups, but being a teacher gets you used to being up in front of a group and retaining their attention.

I don't think of all the people that will eventually watch the video - I just pretend I'm having a chat with one friend.

How do/did you overcome or learn to deal with camera shyness?

Again - I never really had camera shyness. I was in drama club and speech and debate when I was in High school, so

I've had lots of practice talking in front of others.

The first few vlogs I did with me just talking at the camera were a bit awkward, but I've gotten better by watching others and editing helps. It helps to think about what you're gonna say in detail before you start to record, so you're not searching for words while on camera.

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to start their own vlog?

Watch other vloggers that you like - what do you like about their videos? Try to imitate their pace\style\topics, etc at first and then develop your own style.

If you want loyal viewers, then try to find a niche to fill - there are 1000s of vloggers - but not everyone is talking about the same thing - find something somewhat unique to talk about and then be consistent and sincere.

What equipment do you use?

Hand held digital camera for on location and sometimes indoors, and my built in iSight camera on my Mac.

Is the type of camera important?

It is if you want to shoot widescreen or in HD - but for simple vlogs where it's just you talking at the camera, then not really.

Lighting and sound are more important - make sure your face is well lit and we can hear you and there is no music drowning out your voice.

What software do you use for editing video?

I often just upload what I shoot straight - I'm kinda known for my one-take vlogs. But when I do need to edit or add titles, I use iMovie on my Mac.

What is your editing process?

If I'm trying to be more entertaining than informative - then I try hard to keep the pace brisk and edit to the music.

Why did you decide to start vlogging?

At first I was just uploading small 1 or 2 minute clips - mostly of my school life.

But I started to watch more and more YT vloggers in Japan and I thought I could take a shot at talking to the camera.

I was already getting emails with questions about Japan, even tho I only had about 100 subscribers when I did my first on-camera vlog. Then I looked around YouTube and noticed no one really had made videos about the process of becoming a JET and I found my niche.

Did you know any other vloggers at the time?

I was an active commentator on other vlogs, but I didn't know any of them in person.

Was it hard to start a vlog?

No - they're incredibly easy to start. Everyone has a few good stories to tell, etc.

They are though very hard to maintain. To post consistently for a year or two takes some dedication.

You will run out of ideas or motivation from time to time, but if you have loyal viewers, they'll inspire you, give you suggestions, and make you want to keep going.

How did you know what to say or what to vlog about?

Well, there seems to be a bottomless well of people that are interested in Japan and learning Japanese who watch YouTube.

So talking about Japan became my main niche.

When I decided to start talking about movies or my other interests, such as watching Sumo, I actually started new channels so it wouldn't distract from my main channel's Japan focus.

Why have you continued to vlog?

Well, the JET Programme recruits new JETs every year, so there are always new folks coming along that want to come to Japan and learn about JET. So I keep vlogging for them.

What motivates you to keep vlogging?

My viewers are by and large a great group of people. They are very appreciative of the work I do, and they leave me great comments and send me wonderful emails. That is a big motivation. And now that I'm no longer a JET, but am back in Japan and teaching at a university, I hope to have all new insights and adventures that I can share with my viewers.

-Jason H.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My new students - already poking fun at their teacher

Overall, my new college students are a pretty cool bunch.

I have about 53 ichi nen sei (Freshmen) who are 18/19 years old,
and I have about 49 ni nen sei (Sophomores) who are 19/20 years old.

My classes are 90 minutes, but split into 2 sessions with a 5 minute passing period between them.
So I teach for 45 minutes, that group of 25 or so students leave and the next group comes in for their 45 minutes.

The other half of the 90 minutes is spent reading. My students are supposed to read 10,000 English words every week. They have a bunch of ESL books to choose from which are color coded to difficulty level - so white sticker books are the easiest, with easy vocabulary and smaller word counts, and up to dark blue books, which are like regular novels.

I'm the only teacher in my classroom, and I'm in charge of all the lessons, grading, attendance, etc. Quite a change from the ALT status of most JETs, myself included.

Today I was teaching my 1nen sei about the English word "too." As in "too young" or "too old."
They had a list of 6 opinions and had to guess the age the person was talking about.
For example, "She is too young to drive a car." What age do you think this person is?

So I went around class asking various students their ideas.
One opinion was "He's too old to play soccer." I asked one girl and she said "40."
I laughed and told her I was 41, so I'm not allowed to play soccer anymore?
The class laughed as I pretended to mark down minus 1 pt for her answer.

Later I asked a boy about the opinion "She's to old to dance." He responded "45."
So I'm too old to play soccer and almost too old to dance.

The last question was about marriage.
"He's too old to get married."
I asked a boy about this in the previous class, and he said "There is no age limit on love." In English! Awwwwww....
But in this class, the boy I asked responded "35."
I pretended to immediately mark him down 1 pt for the answer and everyone laughed.
I mimed that I can only move around in a wheel chair according to them and should just watch TV all day. :P

I know when you're 18 or 19, 40 does seem awfully old, but the funny thing is I don't "feel" 40 most of the time. Compared to my fellow professors, who are all married and most have kids, I feel like a single, fun-loving guy.

It was an interesting follow-up class to the Tuesday lesson which kicked off this unit about life transitions, such as graduating from school, getting a job, buying a house, getting married, etc.
Aside from some interesting cultural differences, when I asked them what the most important transition in a child's life is, and what the most important transition in an adult's life is, I got some interesting answers.
They have a ceremony here for when you turn 20 years old, and some cited that as an important childhood transition.
But I tend to think of 20-year-olds as adults. I think a big childhood transition is learning to walk and talk and going to school for the first time.
Maybe the 20-year-old ceremony is a good transition for adolescence to adulthood.
According to the supplied phrases in the textbook I'm using, common activities that define the stage of life called "adulthood" include getting a job, getting married, and buying a house. I'm 1 for 3 on those criteria. See, I told you I wasn't a real adult yet. :)

Anyway - class is going well overall, and my kids seem to be enjoying my lessons and learning along the way.

too old to dance, but never too old to sing karaoke! :D