Friday, 2 April 2010

私の English は、ちょっと clumsy ですよ!

Although this has been whirlwinding it's way around my mind for a while, I was talking to a friend earlier about it and certain realisations led me to believe it'd make an interesting blog entry.

I've noticed that although being in Japan for only 8 months so far, my use of English has changed slightly. The irony isn't lost on me, seeing as teaching English here is my job, but I find myself forgetting things outside of the classroom. Certainly I'm probably slightly behind with recent colloquialisms, seeing as I am not exposed to them here and have no use for them anyway, but that's not what I've noticed.

If I'm talking to a Japanese person I use the Japanese I know. If I'm talking to a Japanese person who understands English at conversation level I find myself slipping in and out of Japanese and English. Half a sentence, or several words may be in one language, the rest in the other. Now I know this probably means my Japanese level is improving, and that's fantastic, but in an attempt to justify the title of this blog I find myself forgetting English words mid sentence, replacing them quickly with the nearest Japanese equivalent and moving on. It's not until afterwards I realise what I've done, and desperately wrack my brain for the correct English.

I also find myself omitting plurals and conjunctions like "and" and "with." Indeed, I often do so while writing blog entries. And talking to friends and family back home. Sometimes I'll say something and catch myself afterwards, my ears not understanding what my mouth just said.

And sometimes it would seem the use of certain phrases, exclamations, idioms, slang, quotes, sarcasm, etc etc is redundant when I, an English speaker with limited Japanese, talk to a Japanese person with limited English, but I'm happy to say it's not always the case. Half the time when I explain a quote or phrase, I find there's a Japanese equivalent. Which is nice.

All in all I know I'm over-analysing it, but it's an interesting observation nonetheless. Perhaps I should start studying English as well though, just incase...


  1. Nope ... didn't understand a word! ;o)
    You'll be fine, Mr. You eventually get the hang of communicating and thinking bilingually. For a number of years, although my home language was English, I had been educated in Afrikaans, lived with Afrikaans kids in boarding school, communicated mainly in Afrikaans, and so used to do my thinking and my mental calculations in Maths and Science in Afrikaans and had a few odd moments when changing to an English-medium school, but you adjust back very quickly.

  2. I believe we all go through that. I find myself forgetting portuguese words all the time, or English or sometimes both and I have to end up describing is that "thingy" that does the "thingy" to the "Thingy" !!

    We all go through it, you'll be fine I'm sure! Once I go back home, Potuguese comes back to me in a few days, and is the English that slips up.

    You will have to find a way to keep the Japanese going once you come back, but shouldn't be that difficult really ;)