I love my job.
Each day I am given the opportunity to share ideas with students. And seeing my students grow and improve gives me the greatest pleasure. I feel I make a difference which is priceless.
Today I wanted to share with you a story my student wrote entitled, “Nothing is impossible to a willing heart.”
My New Year’s goals in 2011 were to keep writing stories in English and to read the fourth and fifth books that I skipped of the Harry Potter series, and to listen to CDs in English. As we near the close of another year, I can say that I was able to achieve the first and second goals. However, regretfully, I fell short of my listening goal.
I have been continuously writing stories in English since 2002, and in 2011 I’m proud to say that I worked harder than ever. My way of writing a story is to write it in Japanese first and then translate it into English. The reason is that if I translate into Japanese after writing in English, the Japanese always sounds unnatural.
In the beginning when I first started writing in English, I had to delete many sentences because I couldn’t write to my satisfaction due to my lack of English ability. Truth be told still today I delete many sentences. Although I know in my life time the day will never come that my English writing ability will be good enough that I will be able to write freely, I desire to improve it even if only a little bit. Also, I appreciate that I have the opportunity to relearn Japanese by studying English because it helps to stimulate my brain.
The world-famous book series, Harry Potter has seven books in total. When I challenged myself to read the first book of the series for the first time, I needed to print enlarged copies of the book because the letters were too small for me to read. I made copies of the second and third books, too. When the fourth and fifth books were published, I had no time to read them because I was busy preparing to publish my second book. Despite being busy, I still bought both of the books and put them in my bookcase. When the sixth book was published, I read it without making enlargements and ignored the fourth and fifth books. When the last installment of the series was published, I desired to know the ending as soon as possible and read it in one sitting. The unread books were still in the bookcase. Maybe, because I knew the ending of the series my mind had time to wander.
“This year I’ll read the fourth and fifth books of the Harry Potter series,” is what I wrote on the New Year cards that I sent out for 2011. However, in January I still wasn’t as motivated as I had been at the same time in 2010, because I knew I still had eleven months left in the year. That said, I tried to read the fourth book while does wearing gloves help my poor circulation, but I wasn’t able to turn the pages well, so I didn’t start reading.
In the spring I had to take a 3-year-old grandson under my care for three weeks due to the Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear plant explosion in Fukushima prefecture. My second son and his family evacuated to my house from Tokyo, too. During their stay at my house, a 4-year-old granddaughter and the 3-year-old grandson caught the flu, so I caught the flu, too. So, again I didn’t start reading.
In the summer I suffered from a stiff shoulder due to age and I was in the wrong mood to read, so I didn’t start. Then September came. Despite my frustration, I justified to myself that this was not the best season to read due to the lingering intense heat, so I didn’t read. October came. The fourth book is a long novel with 796 pages. I thought that if I didn’t start reading the two books soon, I wouldn’t be able to finish them by the end of the year. Up and at them! I decided to finish it within two weeks.
Even though I finally motivated myself, I felt miserable because I had to check the same words not once but twice due to my declining memory. I have heard about two types of memory, short term memory and long term memory. I admit my type is the second! A bigger problem was that my eyes got tired very quickly due to age. Notwithstanding, I was able to finish the book as planned.
One week later, I opened the last unread book, the fifth. Unbelievable! I noticed that the spaces between the lines were narrower than the fourth book. Obviously, this book has a few more lines than the fourth book! The letters are smaller than the fourth book! But, the book has 956 pages, so to make enlargements would have been a waste of ink and copy paper. Oh my goodness! As I suspected, there are two more lines per page and two more letters per line. That means the fifth book has 1014 pages if it had the same format as the fourth book. I had never read such a lengthy novel, even in Japanese the book had less pages. For a moment I let out a groan, but on the other hand I thought that I would be able to read it within twenty days.
From that day on, I kept reading the fifth book and didn’t waste a minute. Actually I tried to use a magnifying glass but gave up before I read the first page, because I couldn’t get used to it. Every night before I went to bed, I checked the number of pages I read that day. I was able to finish reading it in eleven days which was nine days earlier than my plan. At long last, I achieved one of my most difficult goals of 2011!
What waited for me just after finishing reading was a wonderful feeling of freedom and a great sense of fulfillment. I was murmuring in my mind for a while. “Unbelievable! Good work!” That night, I had a hard time falling asleep even though I was very tired.
Even now I can’t believe I read the Harry Potter series in English, because as I have said before English was my weakest subject in junior high school. I’d like to say that through reading the Harry Potter series I was able to improve my reading ability. Also I learned that I should write stories that the reader can see scene while reading. A Japanese proverb says, “Life is half spent before we know what it is.” That’s absolutely right. However, I’d like to daresay from my own experience, “even if life is half spent, we can study.”
I guess that it might be simple proofreading errors that I was able to find one spelling mistake in each book, but I was surprised because J.K. Rowling is a world-renowned author with excellent editors and they still didn’t catch the errors. When I came across a sentence in the fourth book which was hard to understand, I thought that I might have misread it so I checked it against the Japanese version. Really!? The translation into Japanese wasn’t quite convincing enough for me, so in April I sent a letter to J.K. Rowling about it. I can’t wait to have her reply.
The most difficult thing for me about learning English is listening. It’s hard to catch all the vocabularies. I know I shouldn’t hesitate and have to listen harder. Okay, next year I’ll make a clear start. Go for it!
2012 might be a busy year the same as 2011.