Nicholas Niculescu: My Time at Klexon

My CIP was participating in an English speaking circle called Klexon. This circle takes place every Tuesday from 7 to 9 pm. This CIP is a unique one, unlike some other CIP’s, like a martial art or private lessons, it allowed me to interact with many different Japanese people from many different walks of life. I had the opportunity to talk to both college students and people working today. The sessions had a general structure. The first hour would consist of 10 minute talks with 6 people, and the second hour had us in a group of 4 to 6 doing group working together. It was during this hour I was able to speak Japanese with my partners.

While practicing my Japanese is was excellent, what I really had a chance to do is look at different Japanese people and learn about their experiences learning English. It is interesting from my perspective, I am normally in the opposite situation every day in Japan so to see from the opposite perspective was an interesting one. I learned a number of different things. First I learned very intricate things about learning new languages and trying to learn new words. When my Japanese conversation partners attempted lo learn a new expression, they would generally ask if the expression can be used by itself. I always said it had to be said in context.

There were a couple of interesting observations during my time at Klexon. Everyone thought I was a English teacher before I explained to them that I was a student, and oppositely I thought everyone was a university student if they were not wearing a suit. It was a funny thing every time the mistake occurred. A more serious observation is that many people are studying for the purposes of their job. I would rarely hear reasons like “oh I just want to use it for traveling”.

The final observation that I saw was that everyone was very courageous. I know how it feels to attempt to speak a foreign language to a native speaker and how nervous it can be. Yet every single partner I talked with did their best to practice their English.  I know a little about English teaching in Japan, and I know it is primarily taught from a text book, however, in these sessions I see people who know that is not enough and they attempt to learn English the best way they can, by practicing.

4 thoughts on “Nicholas Niculescu: My Time at Klexon

  1. Your CIP seems to have been quite enjoyable and it placed you in a unique scenario. Did you ever have situations where you were unable to or had difficulties explaining a word or phrase to your partner? If so, how did you deal with this situation? Have you gained a greater appreciation for learning a foreign language from gaining a new perspective from the other side of the teacher/student relationship?

    • Umm I never had issues with trying to explain a difficult word or phrase to my conversation partner. I just used my phone’s dictionary and the internet to search for the right words or different types of ways to explain a phrase, It may have taken a bit of time but it wasn’t so bad. I have also defiantly gained an appreciation for learning a foreign language. Seeing people struggle reminded me how far I had come, and the ways different people learn a language.

  2. It sounds like you had a good experience at Klexon! Learning new English expressions can be a challenge since many of them don’t make sense at face value (wait, what is the value of a face?), but I bet it was fun for them to learn expressions that would make their English sound more native-like! I enjoyed the “chicken scratch” example that you gave in class.

    I’m curious about the people who said they were learning English for their job. Do you know if they signed up for a conversation class by choice or if they were required by their company to do so? If it is a mix of both, it would be interesting to compare the noticeable differences in motivation levels from both groups, if any. Also, did the businesspeople try to talk about topics that were related to their job so they could learn the appropriate vocabulary?

    • They never mentioned that their bosses told them to do this, only that it would be useful in their line of work. There is a fee to enter is you are going to practice English but I have never heard that the company was paying for it. I heard a story of a company sending a person to Australia to have intensive lessons but that sounded really intensive, while this class was much more relaxed. Not once did anyone ask me to tell them Job specific vocabulary, it was all very casual conversation.