Welcome to the fifth installment of the "Cafetalk Diaries," where I will be blogging and vlogging about five lessons that I'll be taking on Cafetalk.com.
My fifth and final lesson, as a monitor, was "Conversation in Japanese!" with Issei.
Issei offers a wide range of lessons. I wasn't sure which one to take, so I took a trial lesson of his "Advanced Level (4)" lesson. He was able to customize that lesson for me, but we decided that "Conversation in Japanese!" would be a better fit. The lesson I chose was 90 minutes - quite long for a one-on-one lesson!
Issei has a lot of availability, even on the weekends! No matter where you are in the world, you can find a suitable time for your lesson, especially if you're in one of the North American timezones.
Here is his profile: http://cafetalk.com/tutors/profile/?id=18951&lang=en
And here is the lesson profile: http://cafetalk.com/lessons/detail/?id=27513&lang=en
The version of the lesson that I took was 90 minutes. (There is also a 50-minute version) The 90-minute lesson is 3,500 Cafetalk points (currently about $38.89 USD). Since this is a free-talk lesson, there are no materials necessary, but he can work with you on something specific if you let him know before the lesson.
Issei is from Osaka and currently resides in Canada. He's been living there for over 9 years and even has an MA from University of Western Ontario. He's very good at catering to your level, whether it's absolute beginner or advanced. His teaching specialties include English, Japanese, and philosophy. You can even kill two birds with one stone by having a philosophy lesson in your target language! Even those whose goals are not language-related, you can always talk philosophy with him and exchange insight.
I sent the lesson request immediately after taking his trial lesson. Cafetalk's lesson request feature allows you to attach a message to the request, so I let him know that I would love for him to come up with some topics and then fix my mistakes. He even took the time to correct my lesson request message. I think that many tutors are afraid to do this because the student might feel intimidated. However, he knew me from the trial lesson and knew that's exactly what I wanted!
I'm still having trouble with basic particles! He also gave me tips on sounding as natural as possible. Although he's helping me out by corresponding in Japanese, this showcases his ability to explain the finer points even in English.
Since I had already taken a trial lesson, he knew some of the problems that we could focus on. He prepared lots of good questions and topics. Issei loves when you ask questions! This is the sign of a great teacher. We talked about each other's lifestyles, a little bit of philosophy, and even being a tutor on Cafetalk. He even let me talk about my 恐怖症 "kyoufushou" (phobia) of house centipedes! I admit that the notion of medicinal cannibalism made me a bit squeamish, but I enjoy learning about history and other cultures. Although he's a new tutor, I think he's going to become very popular on Cafetalk.
He's very kind and easy-going, so the lesson time passed quickly. I thought I would be exhausted by the end, but I was just a little bit pleasantly tired. The corrections made during the lesson were done in a way so as not to break the flow of conversation.
Feedback is very important to me, and he gave me lots to study! He sent a main PDF file with my general feedback and two others that included review information. One was a review of the five kinds of keigo (super polite/business Japanese) and the other was a review on giving/receiving verbs.
This is an excerpt from the five kinds of keigo PDF file that he sent. It might look complicated for those just starting out with Japanese, but if this were written in English (which he can do!), it would be very easy for a beginner to understand. He has a very organized way of giving explanations.
Here is an excerpt from the giving/receiving verbs review file. This is pretty much Japanese 101, but I've developed some bad habits! Sometimes I have a hard time combining verbs with giving/receiving verbs. The example that I had trouble with was 連れて行ってくれた "tsurete itte kureta" (they took me somewhere). I have no problem reading or writing this kind of phrase, but it just doesn't seem to come out while I'm speaking (or it might take a very long time).
I appreciate that he was honest with the feedback in a gentle and constructive way. Teachers are here to help us get better, and I really want to fix my bad habits. Here is the general feedback he sent:
He said that my Japanese is good, but I do make careless mistakes with composite verbs and particles and I get confused with how to use them. He recommends that we go over idioms and "jukugo" phrases in the next lesson. It might be more efficient to study vocabulary with specialized topics and questions that he would prepare in advance, rather than just everyday conversation. Below are some examples of the more concrete feedback he gave of what we talked about in the lesson:
Some of the topics we covered in the lesson were the Morikami Museum and Gardens (the original thing which sparked my interest in Japanese and all things Japan) and my YouTube channel. I would like to incorporate more Japanese into my channel in the near future, but I haven't had the courage yet. However, after taking these lessons with Cafetalk, I think I'm ready to take the plunge! So thanks to Cafetalk, I hope to appeal to a wider Japanese audience and perhaps help other language learners with their journey!
I think for my next lesson with Issei, I'd like to focus on longer explanations and maybe do some particle drills. He's very flexible! It makes me feel comfortable knowing that he enjoys questions. Perhaps I'll ask to have it based on a topic for one of my videos!
Thank you, Issei! I will definitely be requesting another lesson! Stay tuned for the video version of my lesson, as well a review of my free "Ring in the New Year" lessons! (Several tutors participated in the "Ring in the New Year" promotion where they would offer a free 30-minute lesson from the end of December to January 10th.) Thank you so much to Cafetalk for giving me the opportunity to be a monitor. I feel like I'm headed down the right path, motivationally, and I've also thought more about myself as a Cafetalk instructor.
Don't forget to watch my "Cafetalk Diaries" intro video and contact me for a FREE promo code for 1,000 points on Cafetalk! (Until Jan. 31st, 2015)
Thank you for reading, and good luck with your studies!