Elena.O Tutor Interview
- Q. Hi Elena! Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. May I ask you to briefly introduce yourself?
A. Hello. I am Elena, and I am a Cafetalk tutor. I was born in Russia but grew up in Japan. Next year will be my 30th year in Japan. I can speak Japanese, Korean, Russian, and English. Because of my appearance, people often speak to me in English when they meet me for the first time (^^;
- Q. You moved to Japan from Russia when you were just a small child and have lived in Japan ever since. You currently teach Japanese as well, please share your story with us!
A. I had been living in Russia until I entered elementary school, but due to my parent’s job, we moved to Japan. Naturally, I went to the same school as other Japanese students and went on to complete my graduate studies. I might look Russian in appearance, but on the inside, I am Japanese.
If you learn a language from an early age like I did, it is not that difficult, but it is hard to learn a new language as an adult. This is why I wanted to help people who are learning a new language. Although I am Russian, my native language is Japanese.
I believe that by having a Russian teacher, many students from other countries will be encouraged that they too can learn Japanese.
- Q. This is related to our previous question, but as you mentioned in your tutor’s column, you mainly offer Korean language lessons. Can you tell us more about your journey leading to you teaching Korean, and why you feel passionate about the Korean language?
A. Initially, I was a stay-at-home spouse, but my children had grown up, and it was then that I happened to start studying. It all started with YouTube videos of Japanese anime that my children watched with Korean dubs.
I had always loved Korean dramas, but parenthood kept me away from them for a while. Since I had plenty of time on my hands, I gradually became absorbed in the Korean language and became so absorbed in it that I felt anxious if I did not come in contact with it every day. I passed the language exam in no time, and within a year and a half after I started studying, I had obtained the second level of the Korean Language Proficiency Test.
Then I began to study subtitle translation, and then I became interested in publication translation as well. The way my teacher taught publication translation suited me so well that I thought, ""I want to teach translation to others too!"" That's when I decided to become a teacher.
However, even if you want to seriously pursue translation, there are few places that offer lessons, and they tend to be expensive. That’s why I started teaching at Cafetalk, in hopes that I could be of some assistance.
I think the reason I was able to reach this level, to even be able to teach the language, was because I practiced every day. Translation requires not only the ability to understand the original language, but also the ability to handle the Japanese language fluently without restraint.
A Russian person translating Korean into Japanese. It might sound strange, but I have read many Japanese books since I was a young child, so I am confident in my Japanese language ability.I love the sound and tone of the Korean language. It is a language I want to listen to and interact with every day.
- Q. What motivates you to pursue your career as a tutor/advisor?
A. In order to teach, I also have to constantly study and keep up to date myself. I read articles in the newspaper every day and think to myself, “Oh, this article is interesting, I’d love to share it with my students!” or “If I offer a lesson on dictation based on this drama, it might be difficult, but I’m sure we’ll learn a lot from it.”
I am always on the search for topics for my lessons in my every day life. I would like to learn more about teaching, so I am also planning to enter a Korean cyber university to obtain a Korean language teacher certification.
- Q. What are you usually up to when you’re not teaching on Cafetalk? What are your hobbies and interests?
A. I am a mother of three children, so first and foremost, I do housework and childcare. On weekdays, after my children go to school, I go to the neighborhood pool to swim. I enjoy exercising. After that, I teach lessons and study on my own. In the evening, I spend my time watching Korean dramas and sewing. I have actually been sewing for more than 10 years and selling my products.
In addition, I enjoy watching basketball games, and during the fall and spring season I go to watch and take pictures of the local teams. I actually own a pretty decent camera as well. I have so many interests that 24 hours in a day is not enough.
- Q. A lot of students are probably curious about the atmosphere in your lessons. What can a student imagine a lesson with you to be like? What’s your teaching style?
A. As with any lesson, I want you to approach the lesson without fear of making mistakes. Even I sometimes make mistakes. Surprisingly, many people are afraid of making mistakes, but it can be a good thing! Furthermore, mistakes remain clear in our memories, so we won’t forget them. Therefore, I hope that you learn a lot of new things from your mistakes, whether it be a translation lessons that requires preparation, or a casual chat lesson. My apperance might be a bit intimidating, but I'm not scary! I strive to give you a fun lesson with a smile on my face^^
- Q. Since you offer a variety of lessons, is there any lesson you can recommend in particular?
A. As I mentioned above, I became a teacher because I wanted to teach translation, so I recommend my “reading the news” lesson as a good place to start.
I update it at least once a week with recent articles, so you can read a variety of stories. Since we’ll be reading news articles from a wide range of topics, you can learn a lot of vocabulary as well as practicing to read aloud. Also, my reading lesson about the Korean monthly magazine “좋은생각” is very interesting and offers various topics. Many students feel that this is more for advanced learners, but I encourage all levels of Korean learners to read this!
I love Korean dramas, so I also offer lessons on them! Some might find it challenging as they incorporates dictation, but if you practice it over and over again, I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it. I’ve also completed a subtitle translation course from a translation school, so I can offer lessons about TV dramas where you can learn the know-how of subtitle translations.
- Q. Finally, would you like to leave a message for your current and future students?
A. I would like to thank my students who have been taking my lessons. I will continue to offer lessons in an enjoyable atmosphere, so I look forward to continue working with all of you ^^
For those of you who are interested in taking my lessons, why not join me by starting with a casual chat session in Korean, Japanese, or Russian?
For those of you who are interested in Korean to Japanese translation, but are contemplating if you should wait until you are more proficient in Korean or pass the TOPIK level 6 test, please know that there are many things you can learn while translating as well. Please feel free to join me for a translation lesson!
I look forward to meeting you all.