Tag Archives: high school

LGBTQ+ Safe-Sex Education Needs a Place In Our Schools

Hello, in the midst of my winter holidays, I have got into studying Japanese and Mandarin and leaning some theories and principles of Syntax in preparation for my unit next semester called Syntax (yes, quite anti-climactic).

HOWEVER, today I am going to be taking (or more specifically, writing) about something which hits a lot more personally and closer to home for me, something which concerns the safety and rights for LGBTQ+ people.

I have been considering this over in my head for a while, and I think it is quite an important issue. Even more so from the widespread acceptance of same-sex relationships and marriage equality and rights for LGBTQ+ people. The important issue being the education and acknowledgement of LGBTQ+ sex in high schools and the incorporation of STI prevention, safe-sex procedures for LGBTQ+ people, and HIV safety into sex education.

All you have to do is look onto a website about STI statistics and HIV statistics to know that both of these are much more concentrated among the LGBTQ+ community than the heterosexual community. I took the liberty of making a google search and found these two pages in thirty seconds.

http://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/
http://www.bilerico.com/2010/03/us_gay_mens_astonishing_hivstd_rates.php

As a 19 year old gay man myself, this is a statistic that spreads discomfort and fear across me. Why? What are we doing wrong? What is society doing wrong? How can this be fixed?

Perhaps teaching LGBTQ+ safe sex practices, and making it an imperative to teach LGBTQ+ safe sex practices within high schools is one way to reduce this statistic.

I remember back in my years of schooling in Australia when sex education was taught (Years 6-10, which is 2006 to 2010 for me), we were quite rightfully taught about contraception and safe sex procedures, and even had to place the condom on the banana.

That was all though. There was nothing about safe sex procedures for those who were non-heterosexual. For men it was just learning about a condom, and how to place on a condom. For females it was contraceptive devices such as the pill and female condoms.

Even if some people think that 4-5 years is a long time difference and that it may have changed since then, I have had a friend in NSW who is in year 11 tell me that when they were taught sex-ed last year, same-sex safe-sex procedures were brushed over and it was not discussed.

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So therefore, being gay myself, and soon moving to the city and coming across more gay guys and performing certain acts with them (if you want to have visual details I’m sure there’s some lovely comparative videos on redtube), I did not know about the safety procedures for two men, and how to prevent STIs that could come from male-on-male action, and I have learned what I can from other men who have had experience and have picked up on this from other men.

This is why I want to start pushing and finding ways for LGBTQ+ safe-sex practices to be educated in our schools. I want to start an online page where people can sign for LGBTQ+ safe sex practices to be taught in Australian high schools. I would implore other people to do so too. I feel that this is something that straight people also need to fight for, too, as a majority can be helpful in transforming ideas. It is an imperative that all high school students have access to this kind of information, regardless of their sexuality.  Even if it is a 10 minute talk alongside heterosexual safe sex practices, and awareness about HIV. An important minority should not have to miss out in this modern world, and it also ensures that LGBTQ+ people will know and be prepared of what is ahead of them when they enter the sexual world.

This also potentially serves another purpose of breaking down prejudice. There is still a taboo on the discussion of sexual acts performed by two people of the same gender, even in a professional setting where it could be discussed, and should be discussed. If this is discussed, then it will educate those who may have uncertain false ideas about LGBTQ+ people, and make those acts perceived as less of a taboo topic, and more readily accepted and embraced into society. It is human nature to be cautious of things we don’t know.

And on that topic, even now, from not knowing, I feel like I am suffering. Even though I have gained experience with men, I still feel a bit vague and not 100% about what is safe, and what is not.

Ignorance breeds fear, and through education, we can reduce fear, and also help to reduce any existing prejudices.

Thank you for reading. This is something I’ve considered for a while, and something I am prepared to fight for.

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So You Want to Start Learning a Language?

Hello, I am sorry for not being online lately to post on my blog. I have been busy with my exams, a couple of them being essays, so I’ve had a lot of reading to do (and have had a lot of procrastinating to do, too). ‘

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Whilst studying for my Japanese exam, I have come to think, what kind of learning methods are involved in learning a language?

I started to get the language learning bug when I graduated from high school at 17 and moved to Melbourne, and consequently, I have been learning Japanese at university for a little over a year now, and I have been learning Mandarin outside of university for around a month.

Starting to learn a language independently, and having not learned a language before that, it has taken a while for me to actually get used to knowing what is involved to learn a language effectively. It’s not to say that I am an A grade student at learning languages, I just know and have myself experienced a lot of mistakes that can be made whilst learning a language. So therefore, I hope this guide will be able to help you learn measures to take when learning to speak and write in a different language.

Starting Out:

If you are learning a language to some degree of independence then I strongly recommend that you get a textbook. There are a lot of textbooks out there, some better than others, so I recommend you look at some forum boards or websites online to find out which textbooks are good, and which textbook will be good for you kind of language learning. For learning Japanese, I am currently using these books.

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I am currently up to the green Genki II textbook, but if you are starting from scratch, get the orange Genki I. At university you go through one of those textbooks in a year. I’ve found the Grammar Dictionary quite handy, as it gives more depth to the grammar explanations found in the textbook, and also has more grammar definitions. It is definitely convenient if you want to extend you learning. Also, the vocabulary is book is convenient as it explains when to and when not to use certain words, has common words, and you will start finding these words and phrases all the time in anime.
For Mandarin, I have these books:

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The New Practical Chinese Reader textbook and workbook are quite handy for an overall learning of the language, and people on forumboards have said that it is probably one of the best Mandarin learning textbooks on the market at the moment, BUT my complaints, and other people’s, have been the grammar explanations and the vocabulary is not that appropriate. So I ended up getting another textbook, the blue one, which has good vocabulary lists and puts the grammar into nice rules.

But at the end of the day, the books you get should be oriented towards the way that you learn. So if you find any books that you think will also be quite convenient and beneficial, then get them.

Phonetics, then Morphology/Syntax, and then Semantics/Pragmatics:

As a linguistics student, these words make sense, but you may have not studied Linguistics before, so I will explain the heading for you. Often, you will find when you are learning a language and the concepts within a language, you first learn how to pronounce and say something, such as a consonant sound. This is called phonetics. When you first learn a language, even though this may sound redundant, and it will become tedious for a while, I cannot stress enough how important it is to get the phonetics down. Because, how are you going to be able to read grammar and sentences in the language if you don’t know how to say it, and if you don’t know what it sounds like in your head?

So for the first month or so, I just recommend spending half an hour of time out of your day just to practice the new unfamiliar sounds of a language. It may be the ‘retroflex’ sounds of Mandarin, where the tip of the tongue is curled slightly backwards, which in pinyin are zh, ch, sh and r. Also, languages may also contrast sounds that you may not be able to pick up on without practicing.

Then, once you have got that down good, and whilst you are learning those sounds, it is important to start learning the grammar of the language; the morphology and syntax. The morphology of the language is the modification that happens in words which serves a grammatical purpose, like in English, happen becomes happened, establish to disestablishment. This includes what you’ve probably heard as inflection (inflectional morphology). English doesn’t have much of this compared to some languages, and in languages like Japanese, morphology plays a heavy grammatical role. Then, there are also grammatical functions which involve the syntax of the language, such as how words are ordered in a sentence. (For example in English, it is a subject-verb-object language – I-eat-McDonalds).

Lastly, you then learn the semantics or pragmatics in the use of language. Semantics being the meaning of a sentence not concerning context, and pragmatics, the meaning of the sentence relating to the context. So, you’ve probably learned how to say a grammatical function, where it goes in a sentence, and then you will usually learn what it means in a sentence (semantics), and then in which situations it is appropriate to use it (pragmatics).

You will find a lot of language textbooks use this method anyway. So you don’t really have to focus on this too much, but it is nice to be aware of this.

Language is a Skill, not an Academic Discipline:

Even if you learn a language in an educational institution, using a language is a skill. Therefore, your best chance of learning a language is to view it as one, and not to see it as a subject that you read a book on and suddenly you can bullshit an essay and get a high score (Most of my university course has been that, woopsies). So therefore, to improve a skill, you practice a skill, right? Yes. You are not going to master a language by spending an hour on it every month or so. You have to study for a language, bit by bit, every, damn, freaking, DAY.

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You’re going to have to spend that half hour in the morning learning vocabulary, and an hour at night answering questions and trying to use the language, as a skill.

Exposure is Important:

Sorry sluts, I don’t mean summer skin exposure to put on Instagram. What I am actually referring to is situations where your senses are having to react to the language, and then your brain is having to process it and try and make sense of it.

In the sense of Japanese, I usually watch anime (Yaoi specifically *licks lips*),

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I also read manga in Japanese from time and time, and I also read websites that are in Japanese. In Mandarin, I listen to music (EXO-M anybody) in the language (I also listen to K-Pop too, so I should start learning Korean x.x). This is a good methods in the respect that it makes your senses used to what the language sounds like, and if you are wanting to remember things like vocabulary, it gives those words meaning. They aren’t just a bunch of sounds that you are trying to remember; they have context. It is easier to remember things when there is a context given to them. I cannot stress this enough when you start to learn a language; make it a part of your life.


Think in the Culture and Language:

As language is a way for someone to express their thoughts and ideas, it is important to know the way that the language functions and how it affects the way people think. For example, a society more focused on hierarchy may have levels of politeness which you have to take note of when speaking to someone.

Don’t Neglect Vocabulary:

Possibly the biggest hurdle for those who are learning a language is the vocabulary. Especially for those who can’t properly put the context into the words to remember it. And the annoying thing is, vocabulary is key in speaking a language. You may know how to say the grammar and the morphological changes that take place to a verb or adjective, but it means nothing and the sentence you are constructing in your head falls to pieces if you don’t know how to say all the words.

So don’t neglect your vocabulary. What I do is I make palm cards with the Japanese/Mandarin reading on one side, and the English reading on the other side, making a story based on what the word sounds like. So for the word ‘train’ in Japanese, which is pronounced ‘Densha’, I just imagine an old lady on a train having her dentures fall out (Yes, I’m quite diabolical indeed).

I also have a cute Anki (memory sentences) books with cats on the cover, which helps me to remember words! ❤

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 And also placing post-it notes on household objects with their different names in the language you are learning is a good way to learn new words, too.

Find a Native Speaker! Use Your Skills!!!

If you can find a native speaker for the language that you are learning, then that is amazing. It is very helpful to have someone who is a native speaker of the language to practice with, as they can intuitively know when you are making an error, and then correct you on it, and you are using your skills in an interactive environment. Plus, it also allows you to connect to someone on a deeper level if you are speaking to them in their own language.

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It may be hard for people who don’t live in a diverse setting to actually find a native speaker of the language that they are learning. That’s why there are websites like SharedTalk. Just sign up there, and there are always people willing to add you to skype or to have conversations with you whilst you both learn each other’s language. And it’s definitely a rewarding experience.

Mistakes I Have Made:
Not studying a language for a couple of weeks.

Thinking “OH, I will just remember this vocabulary if I do nothing.”

Thinking that I could cram for a language.

Not putting myself in a situation where I am using my skills

Not being interactive with my language learning

In Conclusion:

Everyone learns differently, but I hope what I have outlined helps to give you a better standing in the first part of learning a language. I will probably make another advice post on how to learn Kanji and Chinese Characters, and what happens when you hit a more intermediate level. But for now, if you just use your language learning every day and practice a bit more every day and are not afraid to challenge yourself, then you should be fine! Good luck!

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Go to university, they said. It’s the best time of your life, they said.

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Whilst I sit here, in the midst of studying for my exams (and also learning words and sentence structures in Mandarin, which I study outside of university – 我要喝什么?), I just cannot help but think of the past year and a half which has comprised my experience at university. I remember my first day of classes, spend half an hour trying to find the rooms where each of my lectures were held. Everything seemed so fresh, and new, and invigorating, and I was too shy to talk to anyone in any of my classes, but yet dying to say hello to the person next to me in any of my lectures to make new friends (I had shit friends in year 12 who forgot I even breathed as soon as I graduated – and my friends from my other high school in years 7-11 go to different universities or are in high school still).

*sigh* I wish now that I could still have that optimism. In the past 15 months of having a university education, my hope for humanity, my look on the world, and my enjoyment of tertiary education has slowly been spiraling downhill.
No, it is not what I am studying. I LOVE what I am studying. Linguistics is amazing. I love learning Japanese at university and Mandarin outside of university, and my subjects in my Asian Studies major are amazing too. So it is not that at all, as I am always in fascination and inspiration about what I learn. But, so then, what it is?

Part of the reason is the people. At this point I will proceed to outline some of the problems I have faced with the community and culture at university and how it has not made me feel very welcome or happy when I go onto campus and begin to think about people.


University: High School 2.0?

At university, the students are quite adamant on making people think that they have moved on from the bitch dramas and immaturity of high school. But I don’t know if it’s the fact that a lot of university students are still a bunch of entitled overgrown teenagers still living with their parents; but anyway. I’ve noticed that this “passed high school” mentality results in an inflated ego and a sense of elitism that spreads across a lot of students who go to university. But alongside that, I’ve noticed from the way a lot of students at university behave,

They still behave like teenagers, not young adults. 

You still get the students in university who are like “Oh my god, _____ is such a bitch. Did you know what she did at that party over the weekend? [Insert overstressed voiceless velar fricative here]”
Half of my god-damn psychology lectures, I was surrounded by this banter.

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But I dropped out of Psychology after first year for Asian Studies and Linguistics, so it’s all good :3

Then you have the university students who are gym-obsessed and who only stay around other people like that. You also get the university students who judge others for how skinny they are, and then you get the university students who judge others on their grades, their IQ (which isn’t even a measure of intelligence that’s as great as everyone thinks), their socio-economic status (I will get into this soon), or even their ethnicity.

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I’ve even had people judge me for the way I’ve conducted myself in some of my tutorials. If you’ve read in my previous blog post, I have not exactly had the best mental health this semester. In one tutorial, I was asked a question, I couldn’t answer it, and I didn’t want the attention on me because I felt genuinely shit that day. Then an hour after that class, I was walking around campus when I overheard two girls murmuring to each other “Ahaha, it’s that weird idiot in class who was asked that question.”
I’m not sure about you, but to me that sounds like the way a bunch of ‘popular’ fifteen year old girls behave. Get the fuck over yourself.

Subtle Discrimination

I’ve also noticed that I’ve been avoided on the basis on my social class or my ethnicity. I’m going to sound like an elitist by saying this happens when I’m a Caucasian. But it DOES. I go out of my effort to make friends with the internationals and make them feel welcome. I love learning about new cultures, coming across new people, and making friends with them. But half of the time, I’m received with weird looks, and then slowly pushed out of the conversation, and then ignored. Also, in my tutorials, when it comes to group projects (especially in Japanese), or group exercises in class, the international students avoid having me in their groups. I don’t know if it’s because as a white Australian, I’m just going to be innately bad at learning an Asian language. I don’t know. But it makes me feel like shit. I’m sick of it. I even had one international from southern China in one of my tutorials speak to me loudly and slowly because he thought I had a mental condition. Thanks.
Oh, and the time last year in Japanese I was laughed at when I suggested to the class that I was going to start a study group. That was amazing. Thanks for that, too.

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Then you get it on the other side too, sometimes. And it makes internationals feel like they don’t belong.

It even happens in one of my subjects from the faculty, I suspect, but I’m not going to go into that.


Elitism

I’m sure it isn’t that common in other universities, but I go to a university that continually boasts itself to be the best university in the country from ranking surveys and the like. Therefore, you get a lot of people who want to validate their egos by pointing out of the fact that they go to a university of this calibre. On facebook pages about the university, like confession pages and meme pages, that are operated by students (most likely), you often find confessions, memes or comments that are insulting other universities, or degrading the traits and intelligence of those who go to other universities. It makes me really angry. It’s made me quite bitter towards a lot of the people who go to the university I do and like to make a scene of it.
Get the fuck over yourselves.


Tutorials

It’s not the tutorials as a whole that I hate. But there’s three things I hate about the tutorials I attend. The first is the fact all the students remain silent and are not interactive. The second is that in every tutorial there is that one entitled annoying person who never shuts up, and thinks that everything he/she says is honours material and liquid gold oozing out into the air around them.

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Thirdly is the fact that all the students are latently judging everything you say. If you say something wrong or not up to their mental standards, then chances are you will be avoided and deemed as the ‘class idiot’. Even if you ask questions. Which leads back to the first point of everyone remaining quiet in a tutorial. This could be solved if we all grew up.


University is FUN if you’re poor!!!!!! Ahahaha NOT

University students have the stereotype of being poor. But then, there are balls that come up that cost money, there’s events that cost money, then a good half of the events on campus that are social basically cost money. So it means that if you are to have a social life on campus, you have to have money. If you don’t; well then you’re like me sitting at home writing angry spiteful envious blog posts about university.

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I would like to attend some of the events, but it simply can’t happen because I’m not in the financial situation, and I haven’t been for a while, to be able to afford to go to events like that. Even if it’s club events that are $20. For that, my social life has probably suffered and I’m seen as some pathetic person who cannot get his life together.

And a lot of the people I go to university with are people who are in stable upper-middle class families, or people who are from rich families overseas. So they can easily afford to go to dinners and watch movies, and travel to places with their friends. When it comes to me, I’m never invited for the reason I’m too poor. So I’m never really invited to things. And a lot of them lack the understanding to know what it’s like for a university student from a lower class/working class family who got kicked out of home and is trying to make it on his own.

Sometimes it does seriously feel like I’m being discriminated by some omnipotent educational force for being the person of the social class that I am.

“Sorry, I’m busy with studying.”
I am aware that lot of people are usually busy with studying. But more than actually studying, people have been saying it as a reason to not have me speak to them. To all those people. FUCK YOU!  (yes I am swearing a lot in this article, delicious). When you say that, and then TWO HOURS LATER YOU POST UP PHOTOS ON FACEBOOK OF A WHOLE GROUP OF PEOPLE I TALK TO WITHOUT ME THERE.

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Then, you have the fucking nerve to say “hello” to me as you pass me on campus. The only thing stopping me from spitting on your face are the mints inside my mouth, which I paid for, falling out and I’d have wasted some of my few dollars on you. You’re not worth that.

You have no idea how bad and excluded that has actually made me feel. I’m not sure if it happens to many people at university. But it happens to me so many fucking times. It’s gone to the point I’m not going to continue visiting one of the clubs I’ve been visiting for two semesters because I’ve just made to feel excluded and as if I’m not going to make any friends there.

Also, the excuse of timetables clashing and between classes and outside of classes not being able to see each other is bullshit. It basically translates to “I can’t be fucked being your friend but I’ll pull you along anyway.”

It’s for these reasons that part of me has just given up on making connections with other people.

IN CONCLUSION
So, in essence. I am fed up with the culture at university. I’m sick of trying to put effort into friendships with people who aren’t interested or who aren’t even going to try. I’m sick of walking around campus and going to classes and feeling judged and disadvantaged because I haven’t had an as fortunate life as most students up until then. The only friends I have on campus a lot of the time are my textbooks. I’m sick of people telling me that “University are the best years of your life.”

Well, no, sometimes it seriously feels like they aren’t.

tl;dr – The people and culture at uni can be a manwhores.