I am a half Japanese and half British student who currently lives in Japan. Living in a country that has a large language barrier, I understand that it is crucial to know Japanese (at least some Japanese) to get through the day. From restaurants, to train service, as well as grocery shopping. This has led me to become more motivated in improving my Japanese speaking skills, as well as the issues I faced when trying to have a conversation with my relatives. I find it hard to communicate with my family as I will end up either not understanding what they said or not knowing how to say something in Japanese back, therefore ending the conversation in self-disappointment. This has affected my relationships with my grandparents especially, as my uncle and cousins know a little bit of English. They seem to have given up on my speaking, trying to speak English so that I can understand or talk, in which this “sympathy” has only made me more motivated yet angered towards improving my speaking skills.
Since then, I have tried to improve by speaking during Japanese class whenever I have the chance, as well as being more dedicated and involved in the unit. This, as well as speaking with friends has made me become more used to the speaking style and by this, I have passed this knowledge onto situations such as talking to my cousin, a person who I can practise my Japanese with as he understands English when I am in doubt. I can see that through these actions, my ability to speak more fluently has definitely improved as I can now have more frequent conversations with my relatives without hesitating or ending it half-way, as well as seeing an improvement in my Japanese grades and feeling better about my personal accomplishments. This has made me much more satisfied with my family relationships and connections and has taught me that dedication and determination can give you a better outcome that will positively affect you.
Through my improvements, I also respect language and culture more than I used to. This is because, now that I worked on speaking another language, I am more thankful for being a bilingual person and thankful for how much it has strengthened my relationships with people who are important to me. Language has changed my perspective on other people’s culture and their opinions, which is important to understand when living in Japan – a country filled with culture.