Living in Japan for almost nine years you would expect my Japanese to be relatively close to native level or perhaps you would think it’s at a decent level to do business and have daily conversations with my fellow Japanese friends without any worries.
Well, to tell the truth I would put my Japanese language ability around the “enough to get by” mark and that is just daily conversation; listening and speaking. My reading and writing is nonexistent so there is no point in handing me a newspaper and asking me to read it to you.
Now I can visit the bank, post office, go shopping, watch TV, order on the telephone and do everything that I could do normally back home but it wasn’t like this at the beginning and it took me a few years to build up enough courage to get out there and use my Japanese.
Even now I still have those doubts and even today I had that ache in the back of my head wondering if I should just get my wife to write a letter for me.
The story is that at my new schools location the rented room didn’t have any plug sockets and we asked the building owner to put one in for me. Now the communication was done through email by my wife and an appointment for the electrical engineer was arranged for him to come this morning.
All I had to do was tell the engineer where I wanted the plug and what type of socket I wanted. Just from this basic interaction I did ask my wife to write a letter but in the end I decided I would just deal with it as I have dealt with more difficult conversations; the tax man!
Now two engineers arrived on time and we had just your basic conversation on where and how long the job would take. The truth be told is that someone with no-Japanese would have been able to grunt their way through the interaction.
The moral of the story is that even though I have been in Japan for a long time and speak on a basic level I still have fears communicating but all I need to do is lump that fear and get on with it.