Tutor profile: Logan B.
Is Japanese hard to learn?
Learning Japanese requires one to alter their mindset and understanding of written language as well as verbal communication. The concept of Kanji characters, that unlike their Chinese counterparts, for the most part have multiple readings based on the previous and following 'letters,' makes Japanese rather unique - it combines classical Japanese language with Japanese interpretation of Chinese - rather unusual for a language. Further, it requires a paradigm shift of the way in which we view ourselves, to fully master. For example, the fact that there are over five ways to say "I" in Japanese and only one in English, demonstrate deep cultural roots that should not be overlooked. The use of only one "I" is arguably representative of an anthropocentric, individualistic society with a inherent "person" at the centre of the way in which one views themselves. In the West, one is themself, wherever they are and whomever they are conversing with. Yet in Japan, one must alter what they call themselves based on environmental and social factors, and this represents a fundamental difference in perceiving the world. That is just one brief example of how the sociological roots in language and culture can make it intriguing and challenging (yet still enjoyable) to study Japanese.
Subject: English as a Second Language
Why do you want to learn English?
Learning English not only allows one to more easily travel throughout the world or live and work in the Anglosphere, but it also is a unique language that should be appreciated for its component parts that give much linguistic insight into European history. English' germanic nature can be traced very closely to the Jutes, the tribes that inhabited modern day Denmark, as well as the Frisians and others residing around the Low Countries and Germany. Yet its time under Roman Rule obviously introduced a new level of Romance qualities that other Germanic and Baltic cultures did not -- this can be felt not only in language, but general English and Anglo culture as well. One may argue that England possesses the most diverse set of European cultures, combining Germanic, Celtic, and Romance people, traditions, and language. It is in many ways the best language to learn to educate oneself on European history and sociology. That is, of course, in addition to its usefulness around the modern world.
Subject: US History
To what extent is the Protestant Work Ethic practiced in a secular, subconscious way by modern Americans in business, social, and cultural settings today?
The level of individualism that the Protestant Reformation introduced to the European world is felt strongly throughout the US today. The notion of state, local, and federal government, as one example, demonstrates an emphasis on the local, individual, rather than institutional collective. Why did the Anglican Church in American fall down to nearly only 2% when it was prevalent among many early settlers? The hierarchical mindset associated with high churches led to the great awakenings and emergence of local-based, community organisations. The emphasis that most Americans place on hard work and money earning, can be traced to the Calvinist philosophy that hard work and (monetary) reward are representative of Christ-like qualities that show one's likely path to Heaven--in other words, monetary success became holy- and we see that today all over the country. But much of these religious notions have been extremely helpful in building America as it is today, and I would argue that much of the US' uniqueness comes from its unusual and grass-roots embracement of individualistic Protestant pluralism, which transmuted into secular qualities of life like competition, individualism, questioning of authority, capitalism, and general 'American' ways of life that define modern living, even when people do not notice it, and even among 'atheists.'
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