Test Prepのための英語なんて、、、。絶句。

今日は時間がないですが、書き出しておきたいことがあり、いつもの英語での投稿は置いておいて、日本人で英語を勉強している人たちのために書きます。

私は留学の経験があり、その準備として高校時代、TOEFL Test Prepのコースに通っていました。しかし、これまでにTOEICの試験を受けたことがありません。

しかし、TOEICのスコアアップのために勉強している知り合いは数多く、テスト攻略本なども見せてもらったりしていましたので、ちらっと見た単語の難易度からは、TOEICはTOEFLより簡単という、単純な推測をしていました。

それが、最近になって、自分はどれぐらいのスコアが取れるのだろう?と少し興味がわく機会がありました。お友達とTOEICの話題で話していたときのことです。模擬試験がついてある本を時間を計って、解いてみることにしました。参考本にはさっと目を通すぐらいで、特に対策などはなしです。

結果から言いますと、TOEIC満点(990)ってもっとすごいのかと思った。というのが感想です。あとで、いろいろ読んでみたところ、翻訳者は950点ぐらい取れて当たり前ということ。(同感。) リスニングは早送りできないので、音声が流れるままにゆっくり解答していくしかないですが、リーディングは残り20分を持て余すほどでした。

自分のスコアはそっちのけで、一番気にになったのは、真面目に勉強している英語学習者の(特にスコアが伸び悩んでいる方たち)やる気をどう維持していくのだろう?ということ。テスト後にTOEICについてよくよく読んでみたのですが、TOEICの高スコアが就職や昇進に有利だとは理解できましたが、テスト対策の英語勉強自体が英語学習者のゴールになってしまっていて、多くのの日本人が労力と時間とレッスン代などを無駄に費やしているのではないかと。そして、模試を受けた経験から推測すると、きっと多くの受験者が、きっと気落ちし、散々な結果に脱帽し、英語嫌いになってしまうのではないか。

日本で仕事をしておらず、カナダでの生活が長い私が、何をいまさら、といわれるかもしれませんが、私の周りを見ている限り、英語学習者で、英語が上達したといっている人が一人もいないどころか、留学して、大学を卒業している人でも、その英単語帳に書かれてある単語のレベルを見ると、えー、このレベル?と絶句。日本人の英語学習の方法に、危機感を感じずにはいられない。

自分も英語力が伸び悩んだ時期があるので、こんなことを書けるわけであって、何も上から目線で語りたいと思っているわけではない。実際、これから、英語を勉強するにあたっての心構えのようなものを紹介していきたいと思っている。調べれば調べるほど、どんどん出てくる英語の勉強法。その中でも、TOEICについて書かれてあるもので、一番いいなと思えたサイトはここです。本も出ているようです。

英語上達完全マップ (この記事だけでなく、サイト全体、一読の価値あり。)

英語上達完全マップ―初級からTOEIC900点レベルまでの効果的勉強法 (Amazonのリンク)

TOEICのテストがビジネス英語を必要としている人以外の、一般的に英語能力試験として対象者関係なく行われている(ように見える)ことに疑問を感じるのであって、より高いスコアを目指してコツコツと勉強を続けていくことにはエールを送りたいと思います。その過程で、もっと効果的、経済的な方法を選んでいったらより良い成果が早くみられると自分の経験から、確信を持ってお伝えしていきたいと考えています。

 

 

Post Interview Thoughts.

It seems to be a once-in-a-life time event happened to me this week. I was on the live talk show called “blabbing translators“,  which was hosted by Dmitry Kornyukhov and Elena Tereshchenkova. I might sound over exaggerating, but since it was a brand new talk show about translation, and Dmitry and Elena have been amazing examples to me, I felt so special to be their guest. So please read on if you want to know how I got to be so lucky.

So, how did this happen?

Well, I saw a Dmitry’s post on the Open Mic, to contact Elena if people wanted to help out with their new project. When you hear an announcement like that, to work with someone who you admire, wouldn’t you jump at the opportunity?

So I did. I was just following the advice often given to the newbies, how you should volunteer at your professional organization. So I thought this was something similar I could comfortably do from home. I thought Dmitry was getting so busy with welcoming new members on the Open Mic that he needed someone to do small tasks like,  compiling the birthday list or something like that, behind the scene.

Surprise! 

I had no idea that ‘the new project’ was a live talk show! That was not what I thought the task would be. That would to be on the spotlight, and that’s what I fear the most. (Read the first line of my post!) I was scared. Publishing the blog post was scary enough. It took me a lot of courage to click that “Publish” button. Now to be on a live talk show?

The second thing that came to my mind was what a great idea this would be! It’s because it would allow us to see the real translators on the show! I would really like to get to know other translators too, so I thought I should give first in order to receive. Besides, I can’t turn it down now for having proclaimed to make “no excuses“. I didn’t want to regret it later for not seizing the opportunity.

Another surprise!!

The surprise didn’t stop there! What I learned next nearly gave me a heart attack!

So 2 weeks prior to the show, I met Dmitry and Elena on the blab for the short practice, to make sure the audio and camera were working properly. (Elena wrote a post about behind the scenes here), That’s when I asked, whether I was the second guest. They said I was the first one! My mind went blank. It never occurred to me that I would be the first one on the show!

Panic! 

As the day approached, I felt more and more nervous about what I was going to say. I wrote them down, crossed them off, tried again, and just felt disappointed that I didn’t have anything meaningful to offer. All the ideas seemed so common sense, too general, and boring. One day before the show, I decided that I would just be myself. What a horrifying thought, but that seemed to be the only option.

On the day of the interview.  

I woke up at 4 a.m., still couldn’t believe that I would be on the show. I drove my husband to work at 5:30a.m., came back, packed my kids’ lunches, sent my oldest son off to high school, then got everyone else ready for school, and we got to school at 8:20a.m. The other breakfast program volunteers were already there toasting bagels. It was a cold day, so more kids showed up to have breakfast. We usually get around 80 students. That day, we got close to 100. After cleaning up all the dishes, I went home around 10a.m. I set up the room ready for the interview. At this point I was wondering why Dmitry hadn’t been very active on twitter, but I didn’t send a message. I just assumed he was super busy.

Don’t tell me there are more surprises!

Less than an hour before the show I received an email from Elena. Dmitry was ill and he wouldn’t be able to join as a host. Ohhhh nooooo!!! I felt a panic coming, but I must reply. What else could I do,  Elena must have been feeling the same! It was her big day! When I accepted the fact there was no going back, I sat down and stared at the count down clock. My heart started to pound quickly (and I forgot to take deep breaths!) and before I knew it, it went live!

During the show!

It went so fast like a roller coaster ride. During the show, I was so nervous I forgot that there was a comment section! It looked like everyone was having a great time being on the show as well! (If you missed it, watch the replay. I haven’t watched the replay yet. )

Right after the show.

I felt so relieved, but how did I really do? I dwelt on the things I should have said and shouldn’t have said. I went on to do daily activities of the evening; kids’ curling and music lessons. It took me about 6 hours to finally get over the feeling of embarrassment. The kind messages I received from the colleagues were so encouraging. I was able to reach some of the people with my message.  To me, it was great because it gave me the opportunity to be brave and honest. That’s what everyone said to me. I was brave.

Afterthoughts 1 day later.

I felt little shy to come out in the morning to tweet the next morning, but I did it anyway. Then I felt much better. It’s funny how we are so hard on ourselves sometimes. Just let go and celebrate! What a wonderful time I had! Congratulations to Elena on her first live talk show! She makes you want to be brave just like her. Dmitry, who had been sick for 3+ days gave me such encouraging messages during and after the show. He really has such a big heart, don’t you think?

Afterthoughts 2 days later!

Now it’s your turn! If you want to blab with Dmitry and Elena, you can let them know here. Yes, it would make you very nervous, but I can honestly say it’s been an amazing, fun, engaging, and learning experience for me. If you aren’t so sure yet, you can just enjoy the future guests’s episodes, and if you are able, attend live (every Wednesday noon EST/5pm GMT) so you can ask questions and join in the conversation.

Thank you for reading!

What Can You Accomplish in 5 months?

After a lot of self-reflections and goal-setting for the new adventure as a freelance translator, I’ve decided to write a summary of the last 5 months. Jumping in to try something new was scary, but it has really helped to grow my confidence and set me up for this next big phase of my life.

So my last post was written at the beginning of the school year, how excited I felt about having more time for translation projects during the day while kids were at school. How do I feel about it now? I think I have accomplished a lot and learned a lot. Here are some of the things I’ve learned.

  1. I have to be flexible. Not everyone knew about my decision to become a freelance translator. I did it quietly so what people would tell me wouldn’t discourage me from pursuing my goal. So I was frustrated when people just assumed that I was at home doing nothing, and had a lot of free time. For example, I worked on many translation projects right up till Christmas, and I was really looking forward to taking a break. Then I realized I wouldn’t have as much time as I thought due to other activities and I wasn’t really enjoying the time as much as I could. Next year, I will plan better so that I have a realistic expectation of what holiday season can be like when you are a freelance translator, and try to schedule my break so that it won’t collide with other activities. I get to have fun and take time for myself and I don’t miss out on the fun when people come together to celebrate the season. I don’t want to be a party-pooper.
  2. A little encouragement goes a long way. I always knew this was true, but there has never been a time this was more true to me than this past months. When you go out of your comfort zone, which is essential if you want to be successful, at first you feel vulnerable and regret that you ever came out into the field to be seen. But those feelings soon disappear when you find like-minded people, who understand you and cheer for you just for trying. That happened to me when I posted my first story on the Open Mic and said that I’m a mother of five and managing to be a translator. I thought I was going to get kicked out the community because I thought I would be taken as not serious about my business.  But the opposite was the case.  People told me I inspired them to work harder.
  3. You’ll make time if you are really passionate. So, after 5 months of soul-searching, and self-doubting, I came to a conclusion that it would be possible and I’m going to do it. I evaluated how I’m spending my time; which projects I most enjoy and which don’t need my full attention right now. I came to terms with the regrets I carried for a long time, and replaced them with passion and hope. It is my mission to be a better learner and a better communicator. No one is going to stop me. Someday I’m going to look back at this day, and say,’look, how far I’ve come!’ I’m okay for not achieving some of the things I wish I had achieved by now. But I also need to remember what great things I have done in order to prepare myself to be at the starting line for a new chapter. For that, I’m grateful for everyone who supported me, encouraged me, even the ones who criticized me… because I’ve learned to live up to the expectations.

I’m writing this now because I got an amazing opportunity to appear on a live talk show on February 17th!! It’s called a blabbing translators on blab and I’m the first guest on this show that Dmitry Kornyukhov and Elena Tereshchenkova are hosting. (read more about these amazing hosts and show on this link!)

https://blab.im/dmitry-kornyukhov-blabbingtranslators-on-work-and-family-feat-kozue-macmichael

I don’t even know how I came to be so brave to agree to appear on a live talk show. It is going so fast, but I’m trying to hang on, and not let go. If this is not a passion, what would be? I’m fighting the urge to hide again. I know this is so scary, but I don’t want to regret not trying, even if that means I might say things I don’t mean or get embarrassed because I can’t formulate my sentences quickly. Being in the spotlight without any written script is out of my comfort zone, but I have to follow my own words. Here is what I said on the first blog post. “No excuse.” and “No one is judging.” Who am I to tell people if I can’t follow it myself.

blab testing
From a screen shot of testing audio and video… what a great opportunity of learning from these wonderful leaders!

So here we go!  I’m excited to see what the next 5 months will bring. Thank you for reading! (Here is  part 2 of my open mic post, if you want to read more about me. I hope I can answer some of the questions you have on the show!) See you on 17th!

 

 

I’m a Mom, and a Translator.

It’s been over a week since kids went back to school. I’m keeping myself busy at home to get ready for a busy season ahead. I was asked my availability for the translation projects the rest of the year. I hope I can help out as much as I can! The purpose of this blog post is to show what else I do at home as a mom. I would like this blog to be a place to gather my thoughts on translation, as well as a place to record my progress on balancing my life and work.

Yesterday was my second oldest son’s first violin lesson. My kids are all starting new music lessons this year, but the group lessons doesn’t start until the end of September. The private lesson started this week, and it was a beautiful day. The view from the classroom looking over the was so serene. It was almost magical about it; watching him experience for the first time touching the violin, learning how to hold it, practicing the rhythms and actually making the rhythms on the violin.

IMG_20150916_193304
This is him practicing after the lesson.

We went to purchase the violin book 1 from a music store on the way home. I could tell how excited he is for this opportunity—and I’m so glad that I get to cherish these moments with my children as they grow up.

As I start a new school year, I’m looking forward to managing the time better I have at home, so I can be efficient in handling work, study and life. I hope to be with my children when they come home from school, and enjoy the time with them each and everyday. That’s the commitment I want to show to my family who supports me in my work. To my mentors, students, managers whom I will be working with this year, I want to show where my motivation comes from.

Thank you for reading! Now I’m going to finish packing lunches, and get working!

More Improvements Needed, And I’m Hopeful.

Here is the update of the last two weeks. It’s been great. I felt great for being able to take on more projects than I thought I could.

It’s now clear to me that I’m qualified to this work, and all I need is to feel confident. I also identified what areas I still need to work on.

Firstly, I’m going to keep learning medical writing. It’s exciting to me to be able to find a field that I can say it’s my specialty, and I’ve already found great resources for my continuing study.

Also, I have to work on time management. The more time I have to proofread my work, the better the finished translation would be. I need to work on the speed and accuracy in order to achieve the level I’m aiming for.

I had to handle some bad news during the time of a intense workload, but the good thing was that I was already so busy I didn’t have time to dwell on the sadness. What I was working on that day was unrelated to what was happening, but in terms of  a problem solving that both needed, I felt like I was working on the same kind of skill set, so I kept going with a hope I would maybe get some inspiration to a solution for the other situation. That’s how I got through the day.

Also, cutting back on the sugar really helped me to focus. That was another thing I was concerned about when I was considering working again as a freelance translator. From the past experiences, I knew I have to come up with the better stress management/health and time management to be a successful translator, and eating healthily was one of the things I thought I could improve. (I thought it would be sad if I’m working on the medical texts all day long, but neglected my own health.) When I read the article by Linguisticator (here), about how he was able to cut back sugar despite his insane workload, it really struck a chord with me, so I was motivated to do the experiment as well. His follow up article (Sugar and Memory Experience) is great as well, you might be interested in reading more.

I completed all the work that week, in a very stressful situation. It was hard, but at the same time, it was really fulfilling. I was able to focus more, and less distracted because I stayed in my office and worked on the projects without many breaks. I mostly drunk water when I needed to take a break. It was the kind of the challenge I needed for the first two weeks of going back to work, to really push myself and prove that I could, and at the same time have faith that everything would be okay in the end.

I’m thankful for my family for their support, and our wonderful house guests who didn’t complain about me having to work on that weekend.

(Just a note…I lost 7lbs. from the time I started cutting back on the sugar.)

Update: On September 3rd, (after 39days!) I voluntarily ate my homemade cinnamon bun. I couldn’t resist it :O  I’m still avoiding sugar,  (after a month of avoiding all sorts of sugar, I’m not being too strict—but I’m planning to keep it going. My family is eating much healthier.

Language Learning—A Part of Professional Development

It’s hard to get back to working again after a break. Having a new blog for my translation business will help me remind myself why I feel passionate about translating.

While I wasn’t actively accepting translation projects, I was able to work on my language learning. I took courses on French, German, Italian, Spanish and Arabic. I think it’s an accomplishment!

These courses really opened my eyes to how I see English language and how it developed. I wish I had learned all of these languages while I was learning English in high school. I wonder what would have been like if I did. Right now, I like German the best, then French, then Italian. The order of interests may change later. I didn’t get to go through them thoroughly yet, so it’s just my first impression of those languages, so to speak.

Well, that’s a brief update of the half of the year 2015.