David Lee: Klexon Language Exchange

Are you embarrassed to mess up speaking Japanese? Ever had a question that you were too shy to ask to a stranger? Do you know how to speak at least one language? These are pretty much the basic prerequisites of my CIP.

When I first came to Japan, I set a goal for myself to speak to as many Japanese people as possible before I leave. I’m not insane so I didn’t start talking to every stranger I either ran into or sat next to on the bus, so maybe the guidelines for this goal wasn’t as well established as I had thought. Regardless, when it came time to consider what my CIP should be, I still knew I wanted to (to the best of my ability) achieve this goal. When I found out about KLEXON, I realized this would fit my needs perfectly. I spent the majority of my time speaking in Japanese, though since the program is a “language exchange,” one could speak entirely in English. At KLEXON, you engage in a type of “speed dating” conversations, discussing anything from Japanese culture to favorite foods.

KLEXON is very much a “you get what you put in” kind of CIP. If you want to spend the entire time just having small talk, by all means. If you’d like to ask about the much more complex, cultural differences between the U.S. and Japan, you can do that too. One of the most interesting cultural differences that I’ve noticed between Japanese and English is the latter’s abundance of slang. When I asked what kind of slang Japanese had, many people struggled to give more than 3 examples. Although I don’t doubt that there isn’t slang in Japanese, it seems like most “slang” comes from the various dialects spoken throughout the country.

If I had to mention a failure, and unfortunately, I do, it’s my inability to speak Japanese. I’m only half joking, but in all seriousness speaking with people in Japanese for 2 hours straight, I’d find myself unable to convey certain thoughts without the help of Jisho.org-sama. Looking at it from a different lens, I think this kind of failure really motivates someone to do better, or to look up a certain grammar point that I may have forgotten. KLEXON really helps you learn your strong and weak points when it comes to speaking, which is admittedly a bit embarrassing, but helpful nonetheless.

For any of you considering studying abroad in Japan, you might have the notion that you’ll be spending most of your time with Japanese students. How I envy you. While certainly some students of KCJS do this, making friends with Japanese people is much more difficult than it might seem. This isn’t a dig at Japanese people, but rather more of a comment on the reality of studying abroad itself. Think about how hard it is to make friends normally, now add to that a language barrier.  Especially for those of you who haven’t studied Japanese for very long, this language barrier certainly hinders one’s ability to make friends with locals. Now, as to how this relates to KLEXON, the program makes it quite easy to meet new Japanese people on a daily basis. Over time, you’ll meet people you share a genuine connection to. KLEXON also hosts parties, making the whole friend making process a whole-lot easier. If making friends and talking incessantly sounds like your cup of tea, I would recommend this program.

8 thoughts on “David Lee: Klexon Language Exchange

  1. It is interesting to hear that many people struggled to think of slang words. I would assume this is due to differing views as to what counts as slang.

    Out of the complex cultural differences between the U.S. and Japan that you discussed, were there any which particularly surprised you?

    • That’s what I thought as well, perhaps slang is a much looser term in english than it is in japanese. I wouldn’t say anything cukturally particularly surprised, but rather i was more impressed how much we had in common. Humans are humans after all

  2. KLEXON sounds really interesting. You said you spoke in Japanese most of the time. Did people ever insist on speaking English, or did you ever feel bad for speaking in Japanese (since it means they can’t practice their English on you)?

    • No one really insisted on speaking English. It was a culutral/language exchange, so our conversation topis were always something of value~~

  3. This sounds like a fun CIP! It really seems to fulfill the goal of doing a CIP in the first place, to practice your Japanese in a non-class setting. It does sound tough to try to have meaningful conversations all in Japanese for 2 straight hours, but it’s admirable that you tried and were able to. Your point about slang is interesting too, what kinds of American English slang did you have trouble with?

    • I had the most difficulty explaining what a “meme” was. I’m sure there is a japanese equivalent word, but it’s such a phenomenon that a attribute to English that it was tough to answer.

  4. What kinds of people participate in KLEXON? College students? Working adults?

    • All sorts of people! Students, office workers, you never knew who you were going to talk to.