Enjoy the English Learning Journey with Rupa Sensei (1)
It's Steve Kaufmann here and today I have a guest that I'm really happy to meet up
with again, it's Rupa Sensei from Japan.
But before we get into that, uh, remember if you enjoy these
videos, please subscribe, click on the bell for notifications.
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The last time we met was in Osaka Japan two years.
Oh, time flies.
It was, it was, uh, we were at, my son mark and I were on our way to
Fukuoka for the, a polyglot conference.
The first time that the international polygon conference was held in, in
Asia, in Japan, as it turns out.
And, um, what struck me with you and I think why I'm so happy
to have you on my channel...
first of all Japan, of course, is, is a major country when
it comes to English learning.
I think Japan, I mean, there are more people in Japan who take
TOEIC than the rest of the world combined or something like that.
Tremendous country of TOEIC takers.
And, and when I go to bookstores in Japan, of course, there are books for
learning other languages like Korean and Chinese and Spanish and so forth,
but overwhelmingly it's English.
And I think you're very much involved with helping Japanese people learn English.
So could you begin first of all, by giving, making a brief sort
of introduction of, of what you do and your activity there in
Japan now, your presence online.
Hey guys, how you doing?
I'm Rupa Sensei as I'm called on YouTube and I teach English to Japanese people.
As Mark said, I used to be a teacher in Japan back about five years ago.
And I just kind of realized like just one classroom, you
know, it's not enough for me.
I want to make videos online and teach the whole country or
even the whole world one day.
So that's why I started making videos on YouTube.
And I really like it.
I think I found my passion in teaching and not only teaching the language
in its elements, but also about motivation and also, yeah keeping up
the enthusiasm to continue to learn.
Well, you know, that's why I wanted to have you on my channel.
I had a discussion...
...not too long ago with, with, uh, I think his name was Alberto, an
Italian guy who teaches online now.
And he also was very enthusiastic and I just think enthusiasm
is such an important quality.
And so often the language learners seems to be so serious, he's seriously
studying, uh, you know, lists of words or he's studying the grammar
book or he's doing exercises.
And that's not the solution really.
I mean, the Japanese put a lot of effort into those kinds of activities.
And I think what you provide is sort of this energy that allows them to break out
of that mold and actually make progress.
What has been the reaction to your style sort of call it somewhat unorthodox
style of English teaching in so far as the Japanese learners are concerned?
Well, so far, it's been pretty good.
I've been doing YouTube and stuff for about four years and it's been
going, it's been going really well.
Um, yeah, I think definitely at the start, uh, the kind of reason was
because I was teaching in Japan and I did kind of see that what you said, the
very serious side of language learning where people are so focused on tests
and studying long lists of vocabulary.
And I just kind of asked some of my students and really wondered to
myself, are these people having fun?
Are they actually doing the language learning because they enjoy it or just
because the teacher's telling them, just because if they don't do it, they
won't get into the good university?
And I think that's a shame if it is the latter, if they are just
studying it without having fun.
So I guess my goal or my mission that I've been on is just create
things that are much more fun.
And it all started back when I was a teacher and I would just put on like,
you know, show little scenes of Back to the Future or something in class
to fill a half an hour or 15 minutes.
And during those periods, during those classes, the students just, you know,
their, theie, their faces would just brighten up, their eyes would lighten up.
And I could tell that they were just having a lot more fun than
with there, you know, TOEIC, um, preparation or the ... preparation,
uh, entrance exam kind of preparation.
And that's kind of why I started to go down that road or that
path, just making more fun things.
And it's definitely been received pretty well over there.
You know, it's interesting.
Uh, not all learning activities are equally valuable and we could
be doing things that we think are learning activities and we
may not be achieving very much.
And the magic ingredient that makes any learning activity that sort of, you
know, multiplies the effectiveness is that element of enjoyment, enthusiasm,
liking it, interest all of these things.
And it's very difficult for a teacher to inject that I typically.
You know, a classroom teacher with 30 kids in the classroom, half of
them are looking out the window.
So, but your people are the people you who interact with you, who
ask you questions, who come back at you, they, they presumably
are infected by your enthusiasm.
And what sorts of questions do they ask typically?
What sorts of comments?
What sort of feedback do you get from your learners?
Well, I think, um, the number one thing or the number one goal that I have,
especially with the YouTube videos and everything that I make, I want to be
kind of a gateway into a long-term path.
So they might have a little bit of interest.
Uh, they, might've learned a little bit of English at school but they've kind
of forgotten it already and they kind of want to start again from scratch, but
they just don't know where to start or they just haven't found fun material yet.
And then they search it on YouTube or on Google who are the, like the
biggest, you know, searching platforms.
And then they might come across my video.
I just want to be a good first impression to the language, right.
Obviously I can only make, you know, one or two videos a week, so I'm not
all that they should be doing, but I just want to be a good step in the right
direction where it's like, okay, well learning a language can actually be fun.
Your videos then typically what do they consist of?
Maybe tell my viewers.
Back in Japan um, I used to do a lot of interviews, whether it's on the
street or, you know, kind of organized interviews with someone and talk about
different cultures, culture shocks that they have, uh, being in a new country.
Um, I used to do random English tests where we would have hidden cameras and we
would just go around talking to people in English in Japan, ask them for directions.
These days, you know, especially due to the lockdown that we had and
everything where I couldn't really do those kinds of videos i, I focused
more on learning with a movie snippets where I might take a, a little movie...
Show about 15 seconds or 20 seconds, and then explain it
together with the audience.
Oh, that's really good.
So for a while you were interviewing people on the street, uh,
foreigners or Japanese people.
Uh, but now you're working more with new movie snippets.
That's an awfully good idea.
And then explaining some aspects of the language or the culture
that's kind of embodied in those movies snippets and what...
And what's been the reaction to those from your audience?
Going pretty good.
It's going pretty good.
That's the good thing about YouTube is you kind of know if something's working
or not working, it kind of tells you.
And, uh, so yeah, the interesting thing about YouTube is you have no idea what's
going to, which video is going to do well.
You, you, you think you have some idea, it's a mystery.
It's it's, to me, it's still a mystery.
Some videos do very well.
Some videos don't do very well at all.
And, and sometimes the videos that I thought were really good don't do well
and conversely, that ones that I didn't think were very good, they do well.
Sometimes you just put up the most random video, like, "oh, I'll just
put it up just, just for fun."
And then it gets a million views or something.
The last million views I think it was the one I did with you.
In, uh, at that park.
Yeah, no, it's, it's, it's true.
It is amazing.
This explosion of the provision of lessons and content in, in all languages
that that's available on YouTube.
And, and your learners are, are they aware of like, do they spend a lot of
time on YouTube looking for people like, not just yourself, but other people
as well uh, as part of their strategy?
And that's also one thing that I advocate is, you know, YouTube has got such a
plethora of great teachers that if you only subscribe to one or you only watch
one person's videos you're missing out because, you know, I, I'm just
kind of a one man team, two man team.
Where I can only put out one video a week or two videos, but, um, if you've
subscribed to all the other teachers in the niche, we're all friends,
we all like to work together and collaborate from time to time that you
can have like 20 videos a week or 30.
And so someone who, who subscribes to you, what happens then YouTube suggests
sort of related videos on the side?
Or how do they get from you to these other...
I think so.
It's a big algorithm, which is still a mystery to me, but I do believe that if
you do watch videos in that niche, like the English learning niche, you do get
suggested more and more videos about those topics that you're interested in.
Do you provide the subtitles in Japanese or in English?
One thing that I've been known for, for my YouTube journey is
always put in the double subtitles.
So I put like English on the top and then Japanese on the bottom.
And the feedback on that's been pretty good.
Well I'm sure they appreciate it.
It's a lot of work to do that.
Good on you for doing it.
It takes a long time.
Yeah, for sure.
Well, I'm going to leave a link to your channel in the description box.
And a lot of my viewers are learning English at different levels and,
uh, I definitely recommend that they visit your channel and get connected
with Rupa and with other people who are doing similar things on the
internet, and Rupa thank you very much.
And, uh, now that the COVID hopefully is behind us, although
not entirely, hopefully I'll get to Japan again, or we can have another
meeting in that park in Osaka.
Yeah, we'll go to the same park and the same Starbucks.
In fact, you know
I will leave a link to that video.
So people can go to that video from this video.