What Being Bilingual in Japanese and English Means To Me

I am a Japanese student, who has pure Japanese blood, as all my parents and grandparents are Japanese. Our first language is all Japanese and this can be said for me as well. However, I have lived in a few countries around the world since I was young, beginning with Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Switzerland. These experiences of living in foreign countries gave me the opportunity to go to international schools, where English is the first language. Through my school life in international schools, I was able to become fluent in not only Japanese but also English, making me a bilingual student. There are several things about what being bilingual means for me.

Firstly, I think being bilingual allows me to become a communicator, who is able to communicate with a very wide range of people. While Japanese may not be as spoken around the world as English, it is still a language that some other languages share some similarities with, such as Chinese. English, on the other hand, is one of the most spoken languages in the world and I am able to communicate in English in most countries that I go to. I feel like this fact opens up a lot of opportunities for me to do what I want and to have a voice in the society. An example when being bilingual helped me become a better communicator was when I translated some Japanese documents into English and vice versa for NGOs. One NGO is HOPE International Development Agency, where I did a short internship, as reflected in this post, and during the internship, I reflected a wide range of documents from Facebook posts to progress reports and letters.

Secondly, bilingualism makes me a better learner. This is because I am able to learn knowledge in two contexts, Japanese and English, and this not only deepens my understanding of the topic but also gives me more than one perspective to look from. Since I learned how perspective people look from even on the same topic is heavily influenced by the language they speak and their cultural background, being bilingual allows me to see from several cultural backgrounds and perspective, giving me ideas on the difference and similarities between countries.

Lastly, being bilingual helps me to become an inquirer. As I have experienced going to both Japanese and English schools, I realized how different they are from each other in terms of what we learn as well as how we learn them. This experience opened up more paths for my curiosity because there are unique learning to be had in both kinds of schools. For example, through my current international school, I became interested in playing badminton as well as learning about the issue of poverty. On the other hand, the Japanese school that I went to when I was in elementary influenced me to become more adaptive to the environment and made me a better collaborator with other people.

As these show, I believe that being bilingual has many meanings for me, that are all very important. Now that I have written this reflection, I feel glad that I was given the opportunity to become a bilingual student and I would like to make sure that I will remain bilingual throughout the rest of my life.

Skip to toolbar