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Struggling student currently in Japan 2014/10/5 22:35
Hello, Japan-guide forum!

I am a university student currently studying engineering in Japan. I have been here for three weeks, and it has been rather difficult communicating. I am hoping to get advice from anyone willing to help.

I diligently studied Japanese for 5 semesters at my home university, always earning A's in my reading/writing and listening/speaking classes. In January, my J-CAT score was 160 and improved a little by May. I worked a time consuming internship over the summer, and tried to study and retain as much Japanese as I could, but by the end of the summer my J-CAT score had dropped to 140.

Since you do not get as much speaking and listening practice in the classroom, that is where I am struggling the most. When someone says something to me, I am only able to catch a few words. Though, I think this may be because my vocabulary is very limited. I find myself constantly having to look up words. It seems there are many words and grammar structures frequently used in normal/casual conversation that were never taught in my classes.

As for speaking, I am a shy person, but I think speaking Japanese is fun so I'm never nervous to try. But for some reason, my mind goes blank sometimes when I'm trying to speak. I remain calm, but I have a really hard time replying. Maybe it's because I'm not able to fully understand the question, due to me not catching every word that was said.

My communication is improving very slowly, but it's still very difficult. I have a tutor and I'm taking four Japanese classes at school, but I suppose I need to make more friends who are willing to help me practice listening and speaking, huh?

Thanks for reading my post.

What are your thoughts?
by Wachikinow  

Re: Struggling student currently in Japan 2014/10/6 09:36
If it has been mostly studying at your home university, meaning, in non-Japanese setting, and only three weeks into Japan, what you are experiencing is quite normal :) I can tell you are frustrated, but over time this will change... if you have a tutor and have classes, that will help.

Once you get the polite speech (usually classes start with this speech level) right, and start going into informal speech, which is needed in any case for certain grammar structures, listening comprehension will become easier. Best wishes.
by AK rate this post as useful

Re: Struggling student currently in Japan 2014/10/6 10:00
I have a tutor and I'm taking four Japanese classes at school, but I suppose I need to make more friends who are willing to help me practice listening and speaking, huh?

Join a club.
by Firas rate this post as useful

Re: Struggling student currently in Japan 2014/10/6 10:54
I agree, it's completely normal. The best thing to do is let your friends know you don't understand them. I used to try the "smile-and-nod" approach and people just stopped talking to me. Whatever the word you don't understand is, just ask what it means. They might not know how to explain it, and that's okay. I had to get used to Kansai-ben because my host family used it habitually and I couldn't make out anything at first. I had super bad self-confidence issues because, like you, I got good grades in class and could not comprehend how I could become so dumb in ordinary conversation.

As long as you actively attempt to talk to people in Japanese, you'll be on the right track. Don't be embarrassed if there's something you don't know; try to explain it as best you can. That's the best practice.
by Patty Ferret rate this post as useful

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