If You Can’t Say Something In Japanese…

And, we’re still talking about the video from Abroad in Japan.  One his points is this:  If you can’t say it in Japanese, don’t say it.  It is too easy to revert back to your native language to say something when you can’t find the right words or the right grammar to say it in Japanese.

I have been guilty of this one.  This morning, I had another excellent Cafetalk lesson, but, during conversation, I got completely stuck on what is probably a fairly simple sentence: This will be the first year that I go.  Thinking about it afterwards, with all the time in the world and no one looking at me, I would go for something like これは行く最初の年になります. At the moment, however, it just would not come into my head, and I started to say it in English instead.

But 日本語だけ。  Japanese only.

So, what do you do when you can’t say what you want to say in Japanese?  Well, you either string together words and hope it gets the point across, even if it makes you sound like a caveman, or you find some (possibly highly convoluted) way to more or less say what you want or (and this is the hardest of all) you abandon the idea of saying it and move on.

After all, what would you do if the person you were speaking to didn’t know any English at all?  Pretend that’s the case and do that.  If you want to learn Japanese, then, when you are having a conversation, force yourself to rely exclusively on Japanese.

You’ll hate it.  It’s very frustrating and makes you feel like an idiot sometimes.  That’s okay.  It also helps you learn the language better.

I haven’t mentioned the JLPT in while, but it will be time to sign up in a couple of months, and I am going to take the N3.  I have been packing in the vocabulary every day, and I am getting ready to start serious grammar drills ( because I am only now getting a grammar drill book).  I have been working on N3 grammar for awhile.

The pass rate tends to be less than 50%.  The tests are not meant to be easy.  For example, if they want you to select the right kanji for a word written in kana, the kanji that you get to choose from will all be very similar to each other.

So, who knows if I’ll pass, but I’m going to give it a good try.  And, after all, if I don’t pass this year, I’ll have a whole year to study, since it’s only offered in December in the U.S.








2 thoughts on “If You Can’t Say Something In Japanese…

  1. I would say, before abandoning the idea of saying it, try to find another way to say it! If you are comfortable with the person you are speaking with, they can even help you. All in Japanese of course!:)


    • Oh, yes. Excellent advice! Do your best to make yourself understood before giving up, but give up before resorting to your native language.


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