ONE HEART, ONE SPIRIT, TO INSPIRE
This is my first post for this Teacher Training blog, but hopefully not my last. Please forgive my writing (accuracy, coherence, cohesion, and all the other traits of a good writing) as I am not used to writing, but I do hope that the message I am about to impart is well-received. I am writing this in English since I feel that I am most expressive when I use English. For my first blog entry, I am going to write about how important it is to learn the Japanese language, or what you will often hear as ‘nihonggo’.
It goes without saying that when you are to live in a foreign country, you need to know the language spoken there! This is especially VERY true in Japan, where most of the people here do not speak English. When I tried to apply for an apartment here, I confidently came to the apartment agency on my own, explaining things in English with my exaggerated body language, and yet I could barely communicate. I came again the next day with my Japanese tutor who explained things in Japanese. And there you go, things get settled in a matter of minutes. Yes, it is that hard to do things on your own! Same thing when you have to go to the hospital, or other public services, be prepared to get yourself lost in the communication barrier when not well-equipped with your nihonggo.
No mater how limited your nihonggo is, Japanese people often appreciate you more if you could speak the tiniest bit of the language, in this regard we can also say that speaking Japanese is a sign of respect for them. Japanese people are always known for their excellent hospitality, they will always try their best to make sure you understand what they say, they will use the simplest, easiest form of Japanese language – but if you do not even bother learning Japanese, chances are you wouldn’t be able to understand even the simplest form of it, right?
Knowing the language will also give you access to many privileges which will undoubtedly make your stay thousand times more fulfilling, such as watching TV shows, purchasing ticket concerts, travelling around Japan, or just casually making friends with the locals and learn about their culture. If you have the intention of staying longer, and getting a decent job here, chances are you will need to have an excellent command of Japanese skills. Most companies will ask you to show your Japanese ability by a means of a proficiency test such as JLPT (akin to TOEFL). You should pass the test and get a JLPT certificate of at least N3 (intermediate level) to be considered for the job. The lower ones (N5 or N4) will not be considered!
With a good command of Nihonggo at your disposal, you will go through your academic endeavours much easier! Most of the seminars which your sensei (lecturer or academic advisor) require you to attend are in Japanese. Though recently more efforts have been exerted to have classes conducted in English, most universities still have classes taught in Japanese! Even for me, whose major is in English. Being able to read some Nihonggo will also grant you access to a whole heap of resources for your research paper, where most books and journals are written ONLY in Japanese. Yes, they are written in Kanji, a lifetime feat that seems rather impossible to achieve, but I have heard that someone could learn the basic Kanji words in a matter of 3 months, learning 22 words a day, resulting in a learning curve! You gotta have some perseverance for that I must say. The language is by all means, not easy, especially when it comes to its countless Chinese characters (kanji), but as I have pointed above, it is very well-worth it!
minna san, nihonggo o benyoshite mimasyou! Muzukashi kute mo, taihen de mo, ishogashi kute mo, akiramenaide!