Do You Speak English?

30 May

While we were at the Kiyomizu temple in Kyoto, a group of students on a field trip came up to us wanting an interview. They were studying English, and had to read off a list of questions to us in English as well as recording our responses in English. You could tell they were shy and nervous by their chuckles, but their English was really good. Even when we were at the different universities, there would be students there who had never been to America, but still could speak a little English and were interested in us teaching them more. It seems that a lot of people are eager to learn English here.

Being here and not being able to speak English has its challenges, but it isn’t too bad. Every place that we had been to, there would be someone there who was fluent in English, or able to understand a few words. I think for most of us, it allowed us to be more comfortable in this new environment. We had no problem going to places on our own because of this, and from my experience, no one seemed frustrated by our inability to speak Japanese. Had it been the other way, and I was a foreign person in America, I don’t think I would feel as comfortable.  In the U.S, there isn’t a common second language that most Americans speak. I think it would depend more so on the region you are in to determine that. Even so, compared to Japanese people, Americans generally are more impatient and you would be less likely to find someone with the tolerance to put up with a non-English speaking person. Another thing I am learning here, to be more tolerant of people and not let things frustrate me so easily.

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4 Responses to “Do You Speak English?”

  1. Michael Sanburn May 31, 2011 at 11:58 pm #

    Haha I had a couple groups of students approach me as well when I was at the temple. I even got a present from one group. The language barrier was a complicated obstacle to bypass the whole trip, whether it was in restaurants, subways, clubs, or just people you bump into.

  2. kuzmanic June 3, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    Its truly amazing how other countries including Japan have such a huge commitment to second languages. English is clearly the business language of the world and Japan has embraced this. Clearly from a very young age second languages are important and in fact English seems to be on most signs and other areas a foreigner would have to read making navigating Japan not too difficult a chore. Besides the people were very friendly and helpful even in their limited English.

  3. jaimepeoples June 3, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    Candice, this is something I think about all the time when I reflect back on the 2 weeks I was in Japan. When we had issues communicating, the Japanese people were very nice and tolerant towards us, but in America, people will most likely get impatient with someone who does not speak English. Observing how the Japan culture is very patient and nice to us even though we come into their country not even being able to speak their language fluently, inspires me to do better and treat people who come from a different background and speak other languages, with more respect.

  4. adrenox June 8, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

    I agree with you and Jamie. Even with the language barrier, the Japanese were so accommodating regardless of where we were. Always happy to help and try to understand as well as do their best to use the English that they have learned. I cannot say that I have never been slightly irritated with someone with a foreign language at my place of work, but I can truly say after this experience I understand their position and I too have become more understanding and patient with people who do not fluently speak English. Another thing I have Japan to thank for!

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