Excluding my trip back to the UK in November for miserable purposes, I’ve lived in Japan for about 8 months now – so how’s my Japanese?
The answer: really quite poor. Frankly, I’m embarrassed every time I half-arse my way through ordering food or blunder through what should be a simple conversation with someone. I’ve picked up a bit of Japanese during my time here, and my reading is slowly getting better, but my biggest problem – I live in an English bubble.
I’m an instructor at an Eikaiwa, I enjoy my job but I speak English all day every day, and when I come home – yup, I speak English. Plus, the fact I don’t have a TV means the only real exposure I get to Japanese is on trains, where I try my best to make sense of adverts and identify Kanji from within station names – which has actually been quite fun and helpful.
Many of us foreigners come here to Japan with high hopes of diving right in and our Japanese skill rising sharply, but then 6-months or so later we suddenly realise “I KNOW NOTHING” – and sadly due to the lack of business-level Japanese, all we have to rely on is our native language which makes immersing yourself in Japanese all the harder. I should mention I studied Japanese at night-school for two years, and while that was very fun, speaking Japanese, in Japan… totally different ball game.
It’s time to burst the bubble, somehow… but without the time or money to study by traditional means, I need to try and find my own way as best I can. Regardless, I’m determined to stop being an ignorant foreigner, and any suggestions would be very welcome!