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About Japanese and Japan..


5 Dec 2003
hi all I'm new here😄

I have been a bit discouraged lately. I have been studying Japanese very hard. I have even gotten a private Japanese tutor (who is native Japanese) that gives me lessons and says I am progressing well.

But I read on message boards like this that learning Japanese in America "isn't worth sh*t" when you come to Japan. Is this true? Why is this true if I'm being taught by Japanese themselves? Am I better off just waiting until I go to Japan to learn Japanese?

Sorry for annoying questions, but I'm a bit discouraged by posts that say "4 years of Japanese in America won't help you worth crap in Japan no matter how good you think you are" etc..What do you think of these posts and what should I do? If any of you took the time to learn alot of Japanese in America and went to Japan can you please tell me if it helped any? Thanks and sorry for the questions
Any Language ??

I think you'll find that anytime you go to a foreign country after studing it's language, real life is different! If you can listen to Japanese radio and TV and understand it, you will do well in Japan. In real life Japan, you will be dealing with local accents, different levels of politeness, male versus female Japanese, etc.
You will find that most Japanese people will be very appreacitive(sic) that you are learning their very difficult language and will have great respect for your efforts. Go to Japan and don't even worry about having a bad time!
My personal opinion !

Re: Any Language ??

Originally posted by Frank D. White
I think you'll find that anytime you go to a foreign country after studing it's language, real life is different! If you can listen to Japanese radio and TV and understand it, you will do well in Japan.
Or if you can read the paper to a certain degree and converse with your tutor in Japanese on a regular basis you'll do fine as well, which has taken me an extremely difficult five years. Of course it is all self-reinforcing, but if you're thinking of an extended stay I wouldn't count on just being able to pick things up as you go along without at least a fundamental understanding of grammar and vocabulary. Good luck !
Like Frank said, things are different from learning Japanese in a classroom/with a tutor vs. using it in the real world. Also, as Elizabeth pointed out, you need some foundation in the language unless you are some kind of linguistical god/goddess or like doing things the hard way. Of course you will learn faster being in Japan because you are surrounded by the language all the time and are being forced to use it (sink or swim situation). In the US or other situations, you are still surrounded by English outside the classroom unless you make a really hard effort and seek out Japanese. In Japan, all you have to do is keep your eyes and ears open.

While it is easy to make broad statements like learning Japanese in America isn't worth a hill of beans (I think in part to how often people start, don't study seriously, and find they are no good at it), that is not really the case. However if you want to get really good, you will need to spend some time in Japan. It is like that for any language though.

Hang in there! If your tutor says you are doing well, for now that is the only person whose opinion you should worry about! :)
I found that 6 courses of Japanese in college didn't take me very far in Japan because my conversational skills were negligible. However I understood the structure of the language far better than some of those I met who were speaking pera pera but had only picked up the language conversationally. I could even spot grammatical mistakes that made them sound like the gaijin they were despite the fact that they could hold a conversation much better than I. The background helped though because I was able to learn at a much rapid pace once I was there than I would have otherwise. And I soon surpassed many of those who had been there years before me.

So do not fear, anything you learn now will not go to naught and will help you out in the long run. And if you make attempts to get significant daily exposure, I think you could pick up the language where you are. After all, I have met several Japanese people who could speak passable English despite the fact that they didn't live overseas. There's no reason why a Japanese learner can't do the same.
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