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.