Nobita: Hi,Nice to meet you, Michele! Could you tell me about yourself?
Michele: Hi,Nobita! It’s good to see you. I’m a writer, a blogger and a storyteller born and raised in Rome with a never ending passion for science fiction, traveling and pistachio ice cream. I’m also in love with everything concerning Asia, particularly Japan and China.
My girlfriend, Mana, says I’m an otaku of some sort. She is right, of course. I worship Neon Genesis Evangelion( Shin Seiki Evangerion), Berserk (Beruseruku), Trigun (Toraigan), Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin), Slum Dunk (Suramu Danku), Death Note (Desu Nōto) and countless others. I consider anime and manga a form of art and a way to understand better ourselves and the world we live in.
I love ramen, sushi and sashimi, manzai, Doraemon, Sony Playstation, ASIMO, and Japanese like you, who are reading this article seeking to improve yourself and connect with people from other culture.
It’s a pleasure to meet you!
Nobita: I’m really glad that it looks like you love Japan, Michele! Tell me your impression about Japan more.
Michele: Japan has one of the longest and richest cultures on Earth. Its traditions are thousands of years old and the impact this country has today on the world cannot be underestimated. Technology, efficiency and progress define Japanese culture and its people as food, football and music define Italy.
I met a lot of Japanese while living in America and Canada. Each and every one of them was different and particular in her/his own way but something all of them had in common was cleverness, politeness and a strange sort of discipline I can’t quite explain with words. For me, it’s like Japanese are capable of holding water with their hands. Order and organization are other things that come up to my mind when I think of them. I call this collection of elements the “samurai attitude”.
Nobita: What do you think about the English of Japanese people？
Michele: I think Japanese can have bad habits and weak points as well. Who doesn’t, after all? Kenta, one of my Japanese friends back in America, used to say that Japanese seek leadership in any other people but them. They are sometimes afraid to lead or explore, especially if there is “no map to follow”. He also said that sometimes they are scared of meeting other culture or people with a different background. Most of them prefer to stick together and avoid foreigners because it’s easier and safer that way.
I personally think the biggest problem Japanese have when they face other cultures is the language. For most of them, especially if they never worked or lived abroad, English is a taboo, is a no-man-zone. It could be because they fear to sound ridiculous or because, as my Mana says, they are simply shy. Nonetheless, most of them seem to avoid the challenges and the rewards that speaking this language come with.
Nobita: I personally believe that the most important thing to improve English is “motivation”. So, I think we need strong some reasons to keep motivated ,right? What would you say the reasons we should study English? (※仕事で英語を使わなくても、英語を勉強すべき5つの理由)
Michele: In one of my recent post I explored 10 reasons why someone should learn English. I think these reasons are as good for you as for others, my Japanese friends.
So, why should you learn English?
1. It changes the way you see yourself.
2. It gives you a new perspective.
3. It gives you different ways to see and interact with a story, a situation or a person.
4. It makes you connect with people of other culture.
5. It empowers you and it gives you a tool to understand better the world that surrounds you.
6. It pushes you outside your comfort zone.
7. It compels you to know more.
8. It gives you new skills that can be used everywhere and at any time.
9. It gives you options.
10. It makes you a citizen of the world.
People who can speak two or more languages have learned to understand these 10 elements and live and struggle with them every day. They see them as a challenge and as a blessing at the same time. The difference between be willing to learn another language and be committed to do so is very thin but nonetheless very important to understand.
90% of people will read the ten reasons and feel nothing. They can’t imagine themselves connecting with people of other culture and use another language. They come up with simple or complicated excuses to stay behind, never passing the comfort zone, never pushing forward. Are you one of them?
Improving your English doesn’t involve intelligence or the use of many textbooks, or complicate grammar and exercises. I guarantee you that. It’s first of all a question of curiosity and vision. It’s a question of stay hungry and positive. Nothing more, nothing less.
I’ve studied English for ten years at school and learned nothing because I didn’t care. For ten years, three hours per week. That’s over 1500 hours of English from elementary to high school. For Nothing. When I went to university, I couldn’t count from 1 to 20 and I couldn’t spell a word as simple as “chair.”
Things changed when I decided to learn English, not to simply study it. What did I do? Did I go to the library and took 10 books and start reading them? Well, not exactly. I turned on my computer and started watching Dragon Ball Z (in Japanese, with English subtitles). Believe it or not, Son Goku was my first and best English teacher ever.
Nobita: What do you think is the methods to Improve our English?
Michele: Well, it depends on you, on your tastes and goals. The first question I suggest to ask yourself is: “Why do you want to learn English?” This will keep you stay focused and motivated when you’ll get frustrated or irritated (and trust me, sooner or later you will).
The second question is: “What do you like to do?” A strange question, isn’t? Especially if you’re interested in study another language. What does it matters what I like to do? Aren’t we talking about studying English here? As a matter of fact, it matters a lot.
Your willingness to improve a language needs motivation. If you are a normal person, you’ll get bored reading the same, colorless textbook in a matter of minutes. Did you remember the last time you felt richer and bored at the same time? The two things don’t match very well together.
There are other ways to learn and feel motivated at the same time. Think of me, the crazy guy who’s asking you not to study English in order to learn it. I’m a science fiction fan, I love Start Trek and everything concerning warp speed, teleportation and starships.
So, how did this help me? How did I mix up the two things together? Simple. I started watching hundreds of episodes of Stat Trek, and I did it being committed. If I didn’t know something I felt compelled to improve my knowledge because I wanted to understand better what the actors were saying, or grasp faster a dialogue or a description.
I felt motivated to know more English exactly because I saw it as an instrument. And that instrument, for the very first time in my life, was useful because I needed it to enjoy better the show.
There are infinite ways to enjoy the experience of learning a new language in a non-traditional way. I just told you one of them.
At the end of the day, the real question is not why should you learn English, but rather why not?