What I have learned from excellent Japanese speakers  留学生が教えてくれた大切なこと

2019年12月4日

If you love what you do

Since I became a university student, I have encountered many people from overseas who can speak fluent Japanese. Although their nationality were all different, their Japanese were almost as good as mine. I have never imagined that Japanese has such a big impact around the world, and rediscovered attractiveness of Japanese. At the same time, I have tried to consider the reason why they are good at Japanese, and realized important things. Here is what I learned.
“Passion”
Last month, I have met an Australian internship. Although he speaks English, his Japanese was perfect. He was manipulating correct Teinei-go (polite expressions) with amazing fluency. Even Japanese are sometimes pointed out that many of them cannot use Teinei-go correctly, he could separate Keigo(used to show our respect to listeners) and Kenjo-go( used to humble ourselves), and use them in the right situation. And he said he has studied Japanese for only 6 years. I was shocked. How can one man be so proficient in other language? I asked him how he studied. He was just saying that his teacher at high school was so fluent in Japanese that it inspired him. I felt betrayed because I thought here must be a decisive reason why he is that good at Japanese. Obviously he earned his skill by his own effort, but there was one thing I learned from him. It is his passion. When he was talking about his background of Japanese study, there were eagerness, love, and strong will for studying Japanese in his eyes. He was a shy, quiet person, but at that moment he looked like a different person. Then I realized, his passion for Japanese must be driving him into practicing more and more. I don’t have such strong passion as his. Through my entire life, I have been thinking devoting myself to something is uncool. The anxiety of the chance of ending up in failure was trapping me. I hated when teachers at clam school shouts “Kimochi de makeruna!”(Have the strongest mind unlike anyone else). Now I know they were right. I realized my thought was the one that is uncool. Giving up something without even try is the most hideous thing. Having realized that, I gave up hesitating about being passionate and started to throw myself into studying English. Admittedly, my country, Japan has a tendency of emphasizing on having “strong spirit” (as you can see in the words “Otokogi”,”Ganbare!” “Kimochi de makeruna”), and also as Japanese, I would like to say passion lies in everything, and it gives you chances to try again. This is the thing I learned from that one intern.
“What one likes, one will do best.”
There is an idiom in Japan, “Suki koso mono no Jyozu nare.”( almost the same as “What one likes, one will do best.”) This idiom is an apodictic true, because you feel no pain when you doing something you really like. Time flies so quickly when you are really into something. This may get off the subject, but this situation is called “Flow”, in psychology field. (Flow is the feeling you are completely immersed something and lose other conceptions, because one in that state turns their attention only to what they are doing. Experiencing this state, one can get great gratification and satisfaction of life. ) In my opinion, doing favorite things could invoke Flow, which intensify their love for what they are doing. Many foreign students who are good at Japanese love Japanese culture. My Chinese friend has mastered Japanese because she loved Japanese drama and Anime, while a friend from Thailand used “Syojo Manga” (Comics for girls).Their love for Japanese culture motivates them to study hard. This situation can also apply to other languages, of course. Some mastered English with singing English songs, and some mastered Spanish because he loves languages. There are uncountable ways to study languages, but one thing that language masters have in common is love for languages they study. They may love language itself, or culture behind them. A Japan expert, Kay Hethery (American translator) says, “Learning a language is often about falling in love with the language and culture. Language takes you into a culture in an intimate way, and when you’re attracted to that new world, it’s an intense feeling.”(Tea time talk, p077 L21-26, EJ November issue, 2017). She says when we fall in love with language; we can go into deeper side of its culture. I personally agree with her opinion. When I started learning Spanish, I was thinking I am going to quiet, but when I gradually understand the meaning of the lyrics in Spanish songs; I suddenly came to like its culture, and Spanish itself. This flow of falling in love is one of the reasons why we can keep studying languages. If I you don’t like studying something, try to find at least one part that you can like. It will turn into the love for the entire, and you stop feeling pain. When it happens, the hate would become love, and love could be expanded to other things related to your studying.
“Infinite possibility”
Studying has an infinite possibility. When you found what you have just learned in the news, books, newpapers we always feel happy.. It makes us feel like “I” was accepted to the academic filed, the society, and the world. Especially, learning languages is a good example, because tracing of the background of language let us to encounter its history, people, region, etc. I wish I could experience such flow in my filed, sociology. Having met with erudite Japanese speakers, my thought of learning languages, studying started to change.