While I had been to Klexon once before during last term, I began to go regularly once the embroidery class I had been attending went on break until summer. Klexon is an English practice circle for those who wish to have an opportunity to practice their conversational English with others studying the language as well as with volunteer English speakers from Anglophone countries. The group attracts a wide range of students and young adults from both a wide area of Japan and abroad, so to accommodate the resultant range of scheduling needs, the group meets Tuesdays at 19 o’clock, late though that is. Having never been to any practice group other than this one before or, in fact, provided help to those studying English as a second language in any official capacity before, I quickly found myself making adjustments both in the way I was speaking and in the way I was listening to things in order to better facilitate communication. I began to enunciate my speech a little more than I usually do and be cognizant of how opaque certain turns of phrase and idioms can be to people not from my own culture. Similarly, as I continued to go, I became more and more aware of the types of pronunciation distinctions that can be difficult for native speakers of Japanese beyond the oft-cited ‘L’ and ‘R’ pronunciation such as the subtle vowel distinctions that differentiate words such as ‘machinery’ and ‘missionary’ and listen carefully to try and suss out which was which.
But it wasn’t just the thing I was doing that helped expand my horizons. Though it surprised me initially, it’s the broad variety of people that I’m able to meet by going which keeps me attending Klexon. Through going there, I’ve been able to have conversations with many people who are not only interesting, but come from wide ranging backgrounds and professions—such as dolphin trainers, specialists in British history, and even current and former Doshisha students—whom I likely wouldn’t have had the chance to meet otherwise.