How I learned English living in Japan


So I am not sure if I am allowed to talk about my way of studying English because I am not fluent in English. but I guess this could help people learn English (or even another language in general, to readers who speak English as your native language.) so I’d love to share it with you. I hope more people will not think English as just a “subject”. Keep reading this until the end.

I have NEVER studied abroad for more than 1 month. So basically I have learned English just living in Japan. You think I started studying English in a younger age? – Nah. I started to learn it just like other Japanese people starting with a,b,c alphabets. However let me emphasize this before I get into the details, which might be disappointing for you if you expected something magical which enables you to speak English when you wake up in the morning one day. which is not the case. There is NO secrets to mastering another language. All you have to do is keep learning over and over. Let yourself make lots of mistakes again and again. It is OKAY for you to make mistakes.

First off, what I think have worked a lot for me is NHK English radio.(it was called ラジオ英会話 when I was listening to it but I guess they changed the name a few years ago. ) The reason why I started it was because of my high school. – the teachers used the textbooks in English classes once in a while. Many people use it only for that, but I tried to make the best of it. ; I started to listen to every broadcast. That was good because I got the opportunity to keep in touch with English almost every day. (Try to connect with the language every day I highly recommend it! in any ways. even only a little bit can make a huge difference.) And also what I did was not just listening to it, but trying to memorize every sentence they said. Without seeing textbooks, just say it loud. Saying it loud can help you memorize. 🙂 or writing them down while speaking was great. What I liked about NHK radio was they are CHEAP and well educated. Also the phrases they teach us is natural. I have been doing it and got more than 90 % on the listening exam for the university. I have been good at listening in particular.

Secondly, vocabularies. I know this is a silly idea but I have never seen people who are bad at languages knowing a lot of vocabularies. People who are good at languages have great vocabularies. I was using ターゲット and I memorized the example sentences besides the new word explanation. but I think ユメタンlooks cool too. I know learning the new words can get really tiresome. But I think it is really worth it. 🙂 Or if you don’t know where to start, choose the vocabularies depending on your interests. Expanding the vocabularies open up your world. I want you to try it out. Using English-English dictionaries could work greatly too!

Thirdly, writing/speaking. Even if you input new phrases or new words, if you don’t use them you’ll start to forget them. That is such a waste. I feel that these days people are focusing on the input part so much they forget to do “output”. When learning the language, I think the balance between them are so so important. You should think about it when you realize your language skill doesn’t seem to improve, mostly likely it is due to the lack of either of them.

So about writing, why not write down something that happen to you every day in your notebook. It doesn’t have to be long. And if you can, try to use the new words or sentences that you have learned recently! Or if you are more like a internet kid, make an account for English. I made it a long years ago deciding that I can only tweet in English.

And speaking, which I think most of Japanese people are bad at it yet I think speaking is the most important. I talked about that on my earlier post. I see people focus on TOEIC but I hardly agree with that because it doesn’t have speaking sections. Don’t define your English score by TOEIC.  Speaking takes practice, really. The more you speak, the better your English gets. So all you need to do is SPEAK. I know that first step can be really hard. I have been there too, but it is really worth it. Its okay for you to make mistakes. It is not your native language. You are doing amazingly already just trying to speak it.

So…. these are my “diligent” way of learning English… but you know, we all are lazy. and we all want to have fun with it. I don’t mean that you don’t have to do all of my methods that I wrote earlier, in fact I want you to do to some extent as your fundamental skill. But after knowing some, all you have to do is HAVE FUN WITH IT.  Even if you don’t understand the lyrics keep listening to it and sing with it. It will help you catch the rhythm and your pronunciation indeed. Watch the movies and TV dramas and keep watching the same ones if you have favorites until you memorize what the actor is going to say next. Do what you like with English. Surround yourself with English if possible. well its possible because I do. Talk to people. As long as you can communicate, its FINE. Use the best of the Internet. There are bunch of people who are interested in Japan. They are willing to help you. They are foreigners but they are humans just like us. English doesn’t have to be perfect, really. We should stop labeling English as a subject, once again. Its a way of communication and help you enrich your life. I know you can do it. 🙂 PS. If you have any questions, ask me!

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5 thoughts on “How I learned English living in Japan

  1. NHK english radio! I use NHK easy japanese podcast and PDFs to help with learning japanese!
    My problem is i am very lazy and i do get bursts of motivation. I have an app that is teaching me kanji and vocab everyday and every few hours/days it goes over what you have learned. That for me is very good. I enjoy periscope when people are talking and writing in japanese, even though i dont understand most of it i pick up on commonly said words and commonly used Kanji which is good. I guess the same can be said for english, the more you listen too it and watch english videos you get to pick up on commonly said words.
    Music is great too! Im sure people look at me weird when im playing babymetal and kyary Pamyu Pamyu in my car but they probably look at me just as weird when im playing gangster rap followed by punk rock and bob marley lol

    You are right, the more you try and use the language you are learning the better you will get. I message nearly daily with a few people in English and japanese and im slowly getting better and so are they with english!

    Anyway im rambling again!


    1. Hey Josh! I’m so glad you keep learning Japanese. Everyone can get lazy at times when it comes to learning the language. It takes so much time and work especially if you don’t know the most of it. but after you learn it enough at some point, it gets easier and much more fun! I’m sorry many people don’t get to this level though it’s completely understandable. I hope I can motivate you in some way. 🙂 Keep it up!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dearest Saki…you my dear, are a beautiful bright ray of sunshine and breath of fresh air. Everytime I see your smiling face on Periscope, I get so happy. I show you to all of my family! My husband has been to Japan many times. He works at company COHERENT in USA and JAPAN. Thank you for such nice scopes. Be happy and have days full of smiles.
    Cheers…Sherry McKee xoxo


    1. Hello Sherry! wow this is such a lovely comment. Thank you for saying that. It is so cool that your husband has been to come here many times for work. I do hope that he liked it. I love the connection between us. I hope to see you soon on my future scopes! Take care. – Saki


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