Friday, March 11, 2016
I teach two eikaiwa classes, to our high school's 1st-years (in the states, we'd call them 10th graders). During the third term, we focus on debating skills.
Before starting on debate, though, I always ask if anyone has something else they want to talk about, discuss, disclose...just anything they have going on in their lives that they'd like to be able to express in English. One of my classes, a group of eight, always has something. They like to have conversations about everyday things. From one perspective, there's something ideal about this because it implies that they carry in them a self-motivation of some kind; it also lets them establishes a context through which they might readily remember what they learn. In general, I feel that people retain information most easily when their interests are ignited, or engaged, so for them to bring their own topics of conversation is a good thing.
The downside is that these conversations take time, so we fell behind schedule in our debate practice. My Japanese team-teacher and I were getting a little worried that we'd run out of time, maybe fall short of having an actual full debate before the end of term, and we expressed this to the class. Our apprehensions were causeless. The students threw themselves for one 45-minute period into a fully formatted and timed debate as my team-teacher sighed with relief.
As class ended, teachers complimented students, confessing our initial level of concern. The students were not offended in the least, but rather nodded in assent. They perhaps had their own doubts about how it would go. But, one young lady said, "やっぱりYDK." She probably anticipated my perplexity, and correctly so; she immediately followed by explaining her acronym, "やればできる子." やれば means "if you do," and できる, of course, means "able to" or "can." 子 is short for 子供, or child. So literally translated, I guess YDK would be something like "a child who, if s/he does something, can do it." A less literal translation might be "someone who can do something if s/he tries." Or "a child who, if s/he tries, can succeed." I sense that the hypothetical aspect to this phrase is an important connotation because it implies that intrinsic to the definition is an uncertainty, before trying/doing something, as to whether the person can do actually it. And then by taking the leap the YDK dispels all doubts. Although I didn't ask, I'd bet that this is a term coined by the youth of Japan.
However, since it's been used in commercials, television viewers around the nation, and because it has a dance named after it, I'm sure the general population knows or will soon come to know this acronym.
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