Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Language Barrier

Probably one of the most difficult things about adjusting to our new home has been the language barrier.  We came to Japan equip with 2 years of High School Japanese (Justin) , Japanese phrase books, a little bit of Rosetta Stone, travel guides, and vast information from people currently living in Japan, or who had lived here in the past.  While all this information was invaluable we've found communicating our basic daily needs a bit  interesting and sometimes challenging.  Just  knowing how or what to say is something we've always taken for granted back at home....not here.  We rejoice when we get the correct thing we ordered on the menu, onto the correct train, or when we can say a certain combination of words to get our point across.

We are fortunate that we have so many resources available for us to learn the language.  Not only are there  free conversation classes during the week, but there is a bi-monthly Saturday class, and minimal fee classes both on and off base.  There is just so much to chose from depending on your interest and skill level.  Currently, three of us have been taking a 10 week conversational class (I'm doing it during the day, while the other two are taking the night class).  This has given us basic information we can use when shopping, eating out, needing directions, basic greetings, etc.  Its also given us the opportunity to network which I find extremely useful being new to the area. 

This week I was able to go with a friend to sit in on an intensive language class taught out in town.  We wanted to see what it was like since the next semester is starting in April.  I was very impressed with what I saw.  The instructor spoke Japanese to the students plus the book they are using is written in Japanese.  All the students in the class looked like they were able to follow along and understand what was being asked of them.  I signed up for the class which will be finished shortly after the kids are out of school for the summer.  I'm grateful for the Japanese people who are willing to donate their time and energy in helping us Amerika-jin integrate into their society.

Here are a couple favorite reference books we've been using:

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