Hi everyone, Nick from Takada school here! Most of my students know that I speak Japanese fairly well. I have an N1 certification on the JLPT, and a few years ago I was an accredited Japanese to English translator. So, sometimes students ask me “How can I speak well like you do? How did you learn Japanese?”
I would say I didn’t learn Japanese — I’m still learning it! And your journey to learn English will be life-long too!
I think the most important part of language learning is familiarity, or “nare” (慣れ). Familiarity with vocabulary, with grammar, with pronunciation, and with different situations. And the only way to gain familiarity is with practice!
As a NOVA student taking one 40-minute lesson per week, it’s difficult to become familiar with English. Lessons are very important, but it’s also important how you spend time outside of your lessons. To become a fluent English speaker, you will have to find or create opportunities to use English outside of class!
Try to find English-speaking friends, or join a language exchange event. If you can, there’s nothing better than spending time travelling or living overseas! If it’s hard to make new friends, you can even talk to yourself when you’re alone! It sounds embarrassing, but I practiced Japanese like that often at university.
Earlier I mentioned familiarity with situations. There are many different places and ways to use English, like conversations, the airport, going shopping, visiting the doctor, and so on. Each time you do something new, it’s like being a beginner again! “What do I say? What should I do?” I often feel like this in Japan. It’s easy to visit my doctor, but it’s hard to deal with my bank or my landlord. You will have to get used to all kinds of different situations by experiencing them yourself. But for starters, try doing a roleplay with your teacher!
Learning a language takes a long time and never really stops, so even if it feels tough to make progress, please don’t give up. All your teachers here at NOVA are cheering for you! がんばれ！！