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Excuse me while I attempt to speak in Japanese.

ǵǑǂ{ljǮbDŽǼǟǢLJǴDžB

I am always embarrassed when I speak in Japanese.

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My children are bilingual in both Japanese and English.

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They always get very embarrassed when I speak Japanese.

ǁ{ǕbDžǐǴAǢǬpǽǩǵǪǧNJǵDžB

My poor son and daughter want to run and hide their faces,
whenever I try and use my strange Japanese.

ǁ{ǕbǪǧǐǵLJǢǬBǟǵǢDžB

Every year the problem gets worse.

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Before I came to Japan, I studied Japanese in New York City.

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I took beginner courses at the Japan Foundation
and also at the New School in the West Village where I lived.

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EFXgEBbWj[EXN[ǐǢǧwZljǵǟǢǵLJB

In my class at the Japan Foundation, there was a computer programmer,
who learned the new 'kanji' very quickly.

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VǵǢǕDžNJNJǵǟǢǵLJB

At the time, I enjoyed studying 'kanji' very much,
but it was clear that it would never be easy for me.

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ǁǂǩǵLJB

At the New School there were classmates
who loved to chat with their new Japanese vocabulary.

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ǁDǴǻkLJǁǢǵLJB

They all learned very quickly and made many friends.

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ljǴǵLJB

But I felt shy and ashamed about my inability to keep up.

ljACǻljDžǵBǁxǢDZǐǁpǽǩǵǩǡLJljDžB

This was not the first time I experienced my slowness in learning foreign
languages.

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In High School I studied French.

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My teacher was a kind gentle native speaker.

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I still remember how frustrated he would get,
trying to help me learn the basics, so that I could pass his course.

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ǁǵǟǢLJǕljvǢoǵDžB

I had to take his French One class two times
and I still could not master the basics.

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ǵǩǵbǁ}X^[ljǴǟǢǼB

To this day I can only remember 'Je suis tres fatigue' and 'J'ai faim.'

ljvǢoǼA'Je suis tres fatigue'
uǐǟLJvǐ 'J'ai faim.'
uǮǁǢLJvljDžB


At New York University I took a Spanish course, just for fun.

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In class all the other students learned very quickly.

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I could feel the teacher was very frustrated each time it was my turn to try.

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ǏLJljDžB

In graduate school I had classes in Turkish, Korean, and Indonesian.

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It was important that I tried to learn many languages
because my masters program was in teaching English as a foreign language.

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OǕDžKvǁǵLJB

I studied many techniques in foreign language acquisition.

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wNjǵLJB

In graduate school many of my classmates spoke several foreign languages.

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My whole life I have always had friends
who could speak several languages fluently enough to have a conversation.

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LJǂDŽǢDžB

Yet it has always been very clear that I did not have a gift for learning new
languages.

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ǂǩDžB

I love to travel.

sǁDǴljDžB

I have been to over twenty foreign countries.

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When I visit foreign countries I am happy when I have studied their language.

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Every bit helps.

But I am always reminded of my weakness in foreign languages.

ljǢǬǁOǁǐǢǧDZǐ
ǕvǢoǵǟǵǢDžB

People teach me a new word several times.

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They try again and again.

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But soon I forget.

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Now I have been living in Japan for over 15 years.

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I have seriously studied the language several times.

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Yet still my Japanese is embarrassingly bad.

Ǫlj{ǮpǽǩǵǢǍǫǮeljDžB

I like to think I am an intelligent person.

ǁmIǻlljǐlǶLJǢljDžǁA

Yet, when I speak foreign languages, I always feel foolish.

OǕbǵǟǢǐǴǢǬAǩNJǻǡLJ
ǧǻCǁǵDžB

I hate feeling foolish.

LJǵǩljǐǏDǴljǼB

So when I have an opportunity to speak Japanese, I often panic.

ǻljA{ǕbDž@ǁǐX
pjbNNJǻǡǟǵǧDZǐǁDžB

My mind shuts down and I want to run away.

ǁǵǟǵǡǟǃoǵLJǂǻDžB

If I can calm down and try, I always survive.

ǢǟǔǡǂǒǑǧǂǢǴDžB

Sometimes I even communicate, which is always nice.

ǐǴǫǴǧǂR~jP[VljǴDZǐǁDžB
ǪǻǐǴǐǟǢǢCNJǻDžB

Every bit helps.

English by Robert L. Seltman
Translated by
X



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