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Adventures in Shiiba - March 1994 English is a language, not a test to study for. Languages allow people to communicate complex ideas easily. Tests are tools used by teachers to measure their students ability. Learning foreign languages such as English promotes internationalization. Studying English only to pass written tests is a waste of time and valuable resources. Studying English in order to communicate with people from different countries is a noble effort. It is easy for children to learn foreign languages. This is why I go to kindergartens on a regular basis. You would be surprised at how eager kids are to communicate in English. Kids are naturally very curious about the world and are not afraid to make mistakes - teenagers and adults are afraid. I'm not an exception to this - trust me. Recently I talked with one of my professors, Dr. Thomas W. Johnson about the biggest problem that people have with learning foreign languages. Dr. Johnson said "it is impossible to learn a foreign language unless you are willing to make a lot of mistakes in public." Dr. Johnson will be teaching Anthropology at the Miyazaki International University in Kiyotake for the next two years. His nihongo is "pera pera."
Note: pera pera means fluent, and nihongo means the Japanese language "Total Immersion" is a technical term that describe my situation. I live in Shiiba. I am surrounded by nihongo (tv, music, books, magazines, conversations, food labels, etc.). I have no choice but to communicate in nihongo. If you are going to study English you need to read, write, listen and speak English. Think about me and all of the different ways I am exposed to your language. Then think about how little kids learn nihongo. Now think about how you can create the same types of experiences here in Shiiba.
Television Rent English language video cassettes and watch movies more than once. The first time, watch for enjoyment. The second time replay scenes that look interesting. You can purchase the screenplay for many movies. Don't worry about what people say. Listen to how they talk. The rhythm and inflection of English are different and important. Listen for the words and phrases that you know and research the things that you find interesting. Think about scenes. Guess what people are talking about. As time goes by your guesses will become more accurate. Have fun and watch things that interest you - but do it in moderation.
Music Study the lyrics to songs you like and if you like karaoke, learn how to sing a few songs in English. Don't worry about pronunciation - just have fun and sing!
Read and Write Read things that you find interesting. There are many sources for English language reading materials. Recently, I started using my computer to obtain English language publications from computers all over the world. Read to your children. Read to your parents. When writing, try to substitute English words and short phrases for things that you might write out in katakana.
Conversation is King! Talk, listen, guess and seek confirmation. If you want to learn English you need to talk. It get's easier, trust me! Please don't study in silence for English is meant to be used.