Language Exchange

Resident Blog

Language Exchange

Have you ever wanted to learn a foreign language? What’s your pick? French? Spanish? Arabic? English? Japanese? Italian? Mandarin? Bahasa? German? 

That list certainly isn’t exhaustive but all of the languages I’ve noted there are spoken by at least one housemate in Ichigao West sharehouse. I’ve been in Japan for more than a year, half of which I spent living alone. That was my excuse for not learning much Japanese after arriving here. There just wasn’t anyone to help me learn and to practise with. 

Fast-forward seven months later. Has my Japanese ability improved? Since it was practically non-existent when I moved to my sharehouse, I can say yes, it’s a bit better. I know things like common greetings, basic grammar and sentences and my vocabulary has grown. Want to know something strange? I didn’t learn the language, it learnt me. *Giggle* Not the best expression, I know. Please let me explain. 

Borrowed books

Being in any environment, you can’t help but adopt whatever you are exposed to constantly. It’s a passive way of learning, where one doesn’t intentionally try to  conform and adapt.  With enough time, without thinking about it, changes occur. Hanging around in our shared lounge at the house, there is a constant deluge of chatter, opinion-sharing, general conversations about life, work and family etc. How could you not help but learn to ask how someone else is, to introduce yourself, to greet others morning, afternoon and night?

It might be a bit of fomoism as well. For those of you who aren’t sure what fomoism is, here you go. 

Fear of missing out, or FOMO, is "a pervasive anxiety that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent". This social anxiety is characterized by "a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing".

It’s scary but it’s real. This has been caused by the advances in technology. For most people, a smartphone is like an extension of their hand. It’s a gateway to the world. We have instant information, answers, interaction and access to what people we are interested in are up to. Our brains have been trained to ‘be in the know’ and always be involved in whatever is happening. 

It’s therefore very difficult to encounter a situation where a group of house mates are engaged in a conversation that you can’t be part of because you lack the language. You engage and start learning how to break down the language barrier. You learn just by being there, observing, listening and participating. People are willing to teach you and learn something from you in return. You also get companions when you head out to language class not to mention free books from them if you want to do more work yourself. Instant study buddies. I couldn’t ask for more. 
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Hair Monster

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I'm like a chihuahua. Small but fierce and full of energy. I'm generally a positive person and try to make the best of each day.

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