Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Importance of learning another language

All Japanese people learn English in middle school and high school. It is mandatory. And most American people around me learn foreign languages, so I thought all Americans also have to learn other languages. But recently, I heard that American people do not need to learn any other languages. Is it true? and What percentage of American people learn the second language?

I told a guy who has not learned any other language that he is lucky. But he said he wanted to learn another language so that he can communicate with many different people.

It is true that English is like a common language in the world and you might not need to learn another language unless you need to communicate with foreign people. But I think that learning languages is not only for communication tools literally but for other important things, such as understanding people and culture.

I work at a university where everyone has learned the second language and is used to people who are non-native English speakers. Therefore, even though I am still studying English, they understand most of what I want to say. Perhaps more accurately, they somehow try to understand.
Recently, I met someone and talked with him. But he did not understand my English at all. I tried to say it in different ways using different words, but he still did not understand me. He did not know how to understand me. He was not a bad person and he apologized to me. I felt really bad.

After that, I was kind of traumatized and afraid of speaking English. But I met another person and he said that he had learned other languages so he understands how difficult it is to learn languages and also to enjoy different cultures. He also said that when he went to Japan, he could somehow communicate with Japanese people without their common language.

For understanding other people, you have many tools beside language itself. You could use body language, write down and draw pictures. We could communicate with each other if we really want to. The more important thing is whether they want to communicate. I think that learning languages is one of the incentive to know different people and culture. And it might be important for getting along with other countries in the world.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

American sweets

Merry Christmas!

It is the season where we eat a lot of sweets :) I have a sweet tooth. I have always liked sweets even when I was in Japan. But I think American sweets are much much sweeter than Japanese ones, and that's why when I first came to the U.S. I didn't like them that much. But now, I got completely used to them and I think they taste good. Now, some Japanese sweets are just not good enough for me.
But I still feel weird about cakes decorated with red, yellow and blue frosting. Even though I enjoy looking at them, they are not like things for eating... All of my friends who visited the US took pictures of the frosted cakes in a show window. But I have never seen Japanese people actually eat them.

...I can eat them. I became a "super" sweet tooth.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The importance of Christmas in Japan

Christmas is coming soon. The whole town is decorated with lights and Christmas ornaments. I decorated a big Christmas tree at my place.

Today, I would like to talk about Japanese Christmas.
Most Japanese are not Christian, but everyone celebrates Christmas. Because Japan does not celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas decoration and sales start very early, right after Halloween.
They have the same concept in that Santa is coming to give presents to children. But how they celebrate Christmas is totally different from the US.
I think, American people spend Christmas with their family. And some people go to church. On the other hand, Japanese people spend Christmas with their lovers. Therefore, before Christmas, single people desperate to look for their partner. If they do not have a lover, they get together with their friends and have a party.
Japanese people want to go to classy restaurants and eat stake, or have fried chicken at the party. Seriously, Kentucky Fried Chicken is very busy on Christmas.

After Christmas, Japanese next become Buddhists. They go to a temple or shrine on New Year's. I will talk about it later. But isn't it funny?