Saturday, September 06, 2008

#817 Language Study Advice From Around The World

Show 817 Saturday 6 September
Watch today’s show at YouTube or BlipTV.

Where are you from?

I’m from Italy.

From Italy.

Ah, Greece.

I live in Tokyo, so I came from Tokyo today.

Originally from Montreal, Canada.

I’m from Italy.

Um, I’m from India.


What’s your native language?




I’m a native Japanese speaker.

My native language is English.

It depends on ah, I mean … it’s possibly Italian even if I’d say partly it’s Piedmontese which is a small language spoken in the North West of Italy, but mostly I grew up in Italian, so …

Um, it’s Tamil because I come from a state of Tamil Nadu in the south of India.

Taiwan, we got maybe two kinds of ah, major language. One kind is just like Chinese, another kind is Taiwanese. And some similar but some quite different. And Taiwan still have some aboriginal language. Hakkanese. And, ah, many, many kinds, too many. But I think the major one is Chinese and Taiwanese. I speak in Taiwanese because my mother and my father speak Taiwanese in the family. So my first mother language should be Taiwanese. And then I grow up … in school we need to speak in Chinese. If we don’t, we get punished.

How did you learn English?

Well, I learn it in high school and then I had frequent, ah, study, study periods abroad, in Ireland, in other countries. And, ah, well, then, I mean, living abroad, English is my first language now, somehow, English and Chinese.

When I was a kid, I grew up in a tiny little town, there was no entertainment whatsoever for kids. Except for playing outside or find your own stuff to do. So I was … I had a radio. When you’re in the country, you get this FM band from the American base nearby. Ah, back then it was called, ah, FEN, Far East Network now it’s American Forces Network. I listened to it a lot.

Partly at school, and then I went to England for a number of times when I was a kid to spend some weeks there and learn the language. And then I really learned it only when I had to use it for my job. So, I work in international companies and I had to practice it, learn it.

Thankfully the Indian education system enforces upon you that you got to learn English right from your kindergarten, so I guess that’s how.

How did you learn Japanese?

I learned Japanese … I took a few courses here and there. So when I first came to Japan which was almost five years ago, I took a class and um, and that got, kind of got me a little bit started. And then after that I kind of stopped for a while and then I took another class for four months. And then I was somewhere kind of below intermediate level so I could communicate. But then, at that point, I was living in Japan and I said, you know, if you live in Japan and you don’t speak Japanese you kind of see a, kind of, a limited part of the country. Especially, I mean, depends on your level but I really felt like, OK, I really want to, to get the experience that Japanese people have. So then I just, I think you need a goal besides language, that’s really … I always tell people, I teach English sometimes and I always tell people: if you want to learn English you need a goal other than English, English shouldn’t be the goal. Because if English is the goal, it’s really just a language and … So my goal was really I want to learn more about the country I’m in, I was interested in, you know, different, ah … basically everything I mean, you know, what’s going on around me. And, so I started studying a lot. And I took classes, but I also studied by myself a lot.

Do you have any advice for people who are learning English?

Ah, don’t study, just, you know, get out and talk to people.

Well, general advice for people who are learning languages is to use the language, to go to the country where they have to use it every day. So, that’s the main advice. And then of course if there is no interest in the language in the first place, then you can put all the effort you want and you’re never going to learn it. So that’s particularly true with Asian languages, like Chinese, Japanese, more difficult languages, so cultural interest is also very important.

Internet. Just, YouTube ah … internet in all forms, Wikipedia … just use content. Listen to the lyrics of the songs, watch movies. That’s my basic advice. And read literature. So, on the internet, if you’re into arts to go (Youbuweb ?) If you’re just into content, just check your … YouTube or check the music sites. Content and internet – that’s my advice.

Yeah, listen to the radio, there’s like a lot of different mediums out there that you can use. You don’t have to pay a lot of money to go to all those conversation schools, or, you know, buy very expensive teaching materials. You can just go out and find it yourself. You know, you have the internet now, it’s free, if you have the connection. Radio, TV, ah, magazines.

I think a lot of Japanese people fall in this trap of focusing on English. So you see Japanese people, and, and this always happens, that they will come to you and try to use this very complicated English, which actually nobody really uses when they’re a native English speaker. Because the goal that they’re aiming for is to have really amazing, wonderful English, instead of trying to communicate. The goal should be always communication and trying to learn… Actually a lot of people who speak Japanese well – this is not the case for me, but a lot of people who speak Japanese well – they love manga or something, right, there are a lot of manga fans who learn Japanese because they want to understand manga. The goal wasn’t Japanese, actually, so … same thing.

I think the only way is to use it, not be shy, try to practice it, and thanks to the internet now you have plenty of opportunities to speak with other people through Skype, through chat systems. Listen to videos and just do it over and over again and you will learn it.

Yeah, I think the biggest advice is that you really shouldn’t worry whether you’re, you’re speaking good, bad, you should just go ahead and speak. And I strongly believe that practice really makes perfect, so that’s my advice.

My, my advice maybe from Bruce Springsteen. I think listen to the music and learn. Yeah, I don’t know. From, from Oasis. From Michael Jackson.

thanks to:

Michele Travierso
Alessio Tixi
Prodromos Tsiavos
Hanako Tokita
Chris Salzberg
Vittorio Bertola
Kiruba Shankar
Yueh-hsin Chu (PHS)


artist: Boom Tschak
album: Indietronic CCBit.
track: More Chocolate, Please
from: Former Yugoslavia

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