The Language Barrier

おはよお!So here we are, remote for another semester. I’ve decided to learn something new this year, and break out of my comfort zone. Going from English and French to Japanese has been admittedly tough.

The syllabic systems, characters, stroke order, and intonation are all crucial aspects of the language, and it’s important to get that right the first time.

I thought I might share what’s been helping me for those of you learning a new language.

  1. 1. Practice with Other Students

    Have you noticed that you’re great when it comes to reading and writing, but when you have to actually speak in a conversation, the words escape you? This is totally normal, especially in the beginning.

    With speaking practice, it will be more natural for you. So if you can’t find native speakers to talk to, practice with your classmates! Even though you’re all learning, it’s still helpful to have a conversation at a pace you are more likely to be comfortable with, with people you know.

  2. 2. Push Yourself to Think in the Language

    One thing my dad recommended is to think about how you would say something in the new language first, before reverting back to your native language. For example, in my conversations with him, I start off in Japanese, then say it in English. Although the Japanese version is much simpler and probably didn’t capture everything I wanted to say, I’m hearing myself speak (important for intonation and pronunciation!) and getting closer to being able to think in Japanese.

  3. 3. Put Yourself in Situations Where You Have to Read/Write/Speak it!

    If you have no choice then the words will come from somewhere, right?

    If you can’t travel to the country or region where the language is spoken, you can still make use of local resources. In many language courses, for instance, there are opportunities to have virtual meetups with native speakers in a language exchange.

    Try watching videos, the news, TV *ahem* anime *ahem*, in that language. Start with your main language subtitles, then transition to the new one. Eventually you’ll no longer need them!

I hope that helps! Best of luck!