Which Exams to Take: DELF, DALF, TCF or TEF?

By Ma A French learner may want to demonstrate his linguistic competence at some tests and quizzes. Asians learning français are even more obsessed with assessing their performance to identify what skill level they are at, given the heavily examination-oriented culture. Here comes the question: Which French exams should I take? It seems that I... Continue Reading →


The Historical Novel: A Review

By James Au Jerome de Groot, The Historical Novel, Routledge, 2010. What is a historical novel? The answer to it is not as straightforward as one thought, as Leopold von Ranke, an influential figure in the discipline of history, and his followers has chanted the study of primary sources as the only effective historiography. All... Continue Reading →

Learn Not Only Hard, But Also Smart

By James Au So here is what I constantly hear: Time is too short to learn German; unless you have a linguistic talent, it takes ages for you to master a foreign language. Mon oeil! If these people spend more time learning the target language instead of indulging themselves ceaselessly in remorse, I am quite... Continue Reading →

Pet Sounds: James Au

Pet Sounds: A series in which teaching staff and students from the English Department reflect on a piece of music or song. [Read all entries.] [Revisit the “Headspace” series.] [Revisit the “Ongoing” series.] [Revisit the “Interrogative” series.]

YesterdayOnceMoreAlbumIt was yesterday, if my memory did not fail me, yes, it was yesterday that I first heard the Carpenters’ “Yesterday Once More”. I distinctly remember that by chance, I picked up a dust-covered CD, and unexpectedly, or almost subconsciously, I put it in the CD player.

Every word of the lyrics is as simple as the letters A, B and C, but they form a strange language almost incomprehensible to an eight-year-old boy.

When the refrain was played the second time, my mom came back from the wet market. Surprised by the song, she asked, ‘Why are you listening to this?’

‘I just grabbed…

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A Poetic Moment: At an Obon Festival

At an Obon Festival ---------------------------------James Au Shall I celebrate, sweet heart, and say Adieu to those lovely spirits dying? Shall I hold my fate, retreat, or stay To witness the far-flung lanterns glowing? The evening light, at times dimmed, flickers Along the sea of lonely eastern isle; The paper ship I folded quivers As waves... Continue Reading →

A Prelude to The Eighth Conference of Society for Cultural Interaction in East Asia (SCIEA): A Travelogue to Beijing

I first set foot on the soil of Beijing, to attend the conference co-organized by Beijing Foreign Studies University and Kansai University, from 13th May 2017 to 14th May 2017. Even though many, especially my patriotic Chinese ex-supervisor at Tokyo University, stereotypically decided me to be the same as his other more precious mainland research... Continue Reading →

Plateau Periods

By Ma It has never been easy for me to learn a foreign language, including English, and not even now. The effect of dyslexia made the situation worse. Though dejected in self, I have been told again and again that there is no shortcut to the success of a fluent English speaker. After years of... Continue Reading →

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