In my previous entry, I discussed what I experienced when I learned German in high school. I do want to discuss one of the most important aspects of learning a new language, however, and I feel that this single point is so important that I have decided to devote an entire entry just to this one point. Long after I stopped studying German, I made a new friend who lives here in Tokyo. He is from Switzerland, and German is his native language. Although his English is quite excellent, I did try to speak to him in German once. When I attempted this, however, I found that I had forgotten almost everything that I had ever learned and my pronunciation was quite poor, as I had not spoken the language in well over a decade. He laughed and told me that my German, particularly my pronunciation, was terrible, but I did something that might surprise quite a few Japanese students of English: I also laughed, told him in English that I had not practiced in over a decade, and proceeded to speak in German anyway. The important thing to note here is that I did something that I think many Japanese students of English may have difficulty with, which is that I did not let the opinion of the person that I was talking to affect me or my feelings despite how bluntly he phrased it, and I continued in my attempt to speak in German. Now, since we are [→続きを読む]

I have found that learning foreign languages is quite a rewarding experience. I have been able to use my communication skills to accomplish things that I could not otherwise have been able to do thanks to my ability to speak in several different languages. Although English is my native and primary language, I have studied German, Spanish, and Japanese and used all of them in conversations with others. In general, I have found that learning one language, or, rather, learning how to learn languages, will assist the learner with learning subsequent languages. When I studied German, the first foreign language that I learned, for example, I found that I was occasionally not entirely sure of what I was doing. Once I started to study Spanish later, I found that I had gotten used to studying new languages, and I was able to learn more effectively. When I finally began to study Japanese professionally at a university level, I had already been living in Japan for some time and knew a small amount, but rather than opting to take a proficiency test that could potentially allow me to skip at least the most elementary level of Japanese class, I decided not to, and I started from the beginning, as if I knew nothing, as I felt that perhaps even the most basic Japanese class might still be able to teach me something valuable. Although I did learn some things in that beginning Japanese class, I got something much more important: practice. [→続きを読む]