Happy New Year! 2023 with Ippo Ippo

Posted: 3rd January 2023

Happy New Year!

Or in Japanese...

明けましておめでとうございます!(Akemashite omedetō gozaimasu!)

In this post, I want to talk a bit about the past year as well as about what 2023 holds for Ippo Ippo. Before we get into that, however, here are a few handy Japanese phrases you may find useful at this time of year.

Handy New Year Phrases

あけおめ!(Ake ome - Happy New Year!)

  • This is a shortened version of 明けましておめでとうございます, which you can see above. Mostly used among close friends and family, it's a fun abbreviation of what otherwise can be a bit of a mouthful!
  • Fun fact: you can write the あ (a) in あけまして (akemashite) with or without the kanji 明。This kanji is a combination of sun (日) and moon (月), and means "bright". In the context of New Year, it comes from the verb 明ける (akeru), meaning "to dawn" or "to begin".

(____さんにとって)素敵な一年になりますように。(____san ni totte) suteki na ichinen ni narimasu yō ni - I hope you will have a wonderful year.)

  • This phrase can be used either with or without the part of brackets, which simply means "for [you]". In Japanese, it's fairly unusual to say "you" (e.g. あなた - anata) when addressing someone, so instead, insert the person's name here. If you're close to them, you may not need to add さん (san).
  • The ように (yō ni) part can be added onto the end of pretty much any verb ending in ます (masu) to express a hope or wish, e.g. 合格できますように (gōkaku dekimasu yō ni - I hope I pass [the test]). This phrasing is most commonly used in writing or when saying a special wish rather than more everyday expressions like "I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow".
  • Top tip: this phrase can also be used when wishing someone a good year ahead on their birthday.

今年もどうぞよろしくお願いします。(Kotoshi mo dōzo yoroshiku o-negai shimasu.)

  • If you've come across よろしくお願いします (yoroshiku o-negai shimasu) before, you'll know it has a lot of different potential translations! A few I found for this particular phrase include "I hope you'll stick with me for this year as well", "I hope you'll have me for another year" and "I look forward to your continued good will in the coming year".
  • The 今年も (kotoshi mo) part signals the new year (literally "this year too"), meaning that if you like, you can swap this out for 2023年も (ni sen ni juu san nen mo) or whatever year happens to be coming up.
  • While this phrase is especially important in professional relationships, you will also find it used between close friends and relatives, albeit sometimes shortened to 今年もよろしくね (kotoshi mo yoroshiku ne), or even the ultimate abbreviation: ことよろ (koto yoro)!

I hope you enjoyed these language points and find someone to try them out with. Bonus points if you can use both あけおめ (ake ome) and ことよろ (koto yoro) in combination (あけおめことよろ - ake ome koto yoro)!

Looking Back: 2022

2022 was a really exciting year for Ippo Ippo. In terms of events and courses, some highlights for me include:

  • In the spring, holding two Explore Japanese events with Fran Wrigley of Step Up Japanese, followed shortly after by two Tadoku Tasters with Hitomi Kobayashi.
  • In June, I began hosting Japanese Etiquette for Travellers, an event based on part of my Travel Japanese course and which has proved consistently popular since its first occurrence. (Join me later this month for the next event!)
  • In July, my Travel Japanese and Intro to N2 Grammar courses both kicked off for the first time. I was really happy to get great feedback for both, meaning I've decided to run them again this year. On a related note, one of my students sat the N2 this month - a huge milestone!
  • In August, Nihongo Picnic was a lot of fun, as well as the Edinburgh Fringe Social, when a group of Ippo Ippo students joined me to go and see Japanese comedian Yuriko Kotani.
  • In September, Japanese for Beginners 1 and Prep for JLPT N5 both began, with a lovely group of students joining me on each course.
  • In October, we were finally able to organise a Scotland Loves Anime social in Edinburgh - something that had been impossible for 2yrs due to lockdowns!
  • Finally, in December, I had students sitting both the N5 and N2 levels of the JLPT, while later in the month, an impressive number of Ippo Ippo students (past and present) made it through the snowy streets for a 忘年会 (bōnenkai - "forget the year party"). Thank to everyone for a really fun evening!

On top of all this, a special shoutout of course goes also to my one-to-one (or two-to-one) students, who I've felt so lucky to be able to keep working with over the past year - or, in several cases, for two or three years now! To ensure I provide the best quality teaching to both individuals and groups, my Private Tutoring and Study Support bookings remain closed, though please subscribe to my newsletter if you'd like an update when spaces do become available.

Looking Ahead: 2023

As cheesy as it may sound, 2022 has really driven home to me just how much the process of teaching is also one of learning. Not only do I continue to learn new bits of Japanese (including from my students themselves!), but I find my attitude to teaching and learning evolving from week and week as I'm exposed to ideas from other teachers and am able to witness my students putting various different approaches into practice.

As someone who has learnt Japanese as an additional language in adulthood, my students naturally ask me my opinion of the merits and "demerits" (デメリット / demeritto) of various learning methods. While often I know exactly what to say, one challenge I face is feeling like I can't always give the best advice based on how I personally learnt Japanese. However, this brings me to a phrase I want to bear in mind in 2023:

失敗は成功のもと

Shippai wa seikō no moto

Failure teaches success; every failure is a stepping stone that leads to success

So: what do I mean by this phrase?

Like many people, I can sometimes be easily distracted by things that haven't gone to plan or that have gone wrong in some way - in other words, failures.

While I'm not a huge fan of New Year's resolutions, something I'm keen to keep working on is reducing my fear of failure - including doing away with the idea failure = bad! In the language classroom, a major example of failure is making a mistake in your target language. As a student of Japanese, I was (and admittedly often still am) obsessed with ironing out every single error in my use of the language. While in some ways I think this did help me to achieve a high degree of accuracy that enables me to do my job today, I now question whether it was worth the stress of constantly monitoring every word leaving my mouth.

The more I speak to and observe other teachers, and the more I notice my students' success - and confidence - in different areas of language (e.g. speaking vs writing), the more I'm convinced that the true skill we should be focusing on is communication (verbal and otherwise!) rather than the ability to produce perfectly grammatically correct Japanese. While this is something I've already discussed to some extent with my students, I want to do a better job of communicating and putting it into practice in 2023.

Of course, this is all slightly ironic considering the fact that I have so many JLPT courses coming up this year, as these exams are notorious for focusing on nothing but "correct" vs "incorrect"! If you want to know why I think the exams still have their merits, check out this post.

While I hope to share more in the coming year about my approach to learning and teaching Japanese, I think I will call it here for today.

I hope you enjoyed this post! All that remains to say is:

あけおめことよろ!

Ake ome koto yoro!

You've reached the end of this post! I hope you enjoyed it.

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