Friday, August 29, 2008

All I need to do is...

For quite a while now, I've been thinking about how I can go from intermediate to fluent. As is quite common for learners like me, speaking skills lag way behind. Nobody knows how much actual knowledge I have in my head, so they can only evaluate my Japanese by listening to me speak.

Some people are quite lenient. They recognize that I have a high degree of understanding. Other people seem to think that my speaking skill is the mirror image of my knowledge of the language. And I've always known that if I could speak as well I understand, then things would be alright.

I now know without a doubt what I can do to bring my speaking ability up. I need to stop using English as my thinking language and start using only Japanese to think. I once tried to do this about 4 or 5 years ago but I was so limited that I couldn't complete my thoughts and it hurt to not be able to think. But now I have sufficient knowledge and I need to put it into practice. Once I get used to thinking in Japanese and make it a natural habit that I don't have to force upon myself, then I will really be able to speak the language.

About 3 years ago, I met a Chinese guy at a volunteer Japanese class. We were working with the same tutor that day. I was still studying for Level 2 of the JLPT. He had already passed it and was studying for Level 1. He had been in Japan for a year longer than I. His Japanese ability was unbelievable. His pronunciation sounded native-like. He spoke so easily. We were asked what language we usually think in. His answer was "Japanese."

Friday, August 01, 2008

How is my Chinese?

Maybe you would like to know the answer to the question. I have decided to begin to learn to speak Chinese. Until now I have just listened. But now I need to start practicing so that I will be able to actually converse.

I'm attaching a sample to this post. It's really just a bit of encouragement. I was practicing a sentence. Anyway, this audio clip is only 10 seconds long.