・You may be surprised to hear I’d never stayed abroad until recently
Hello, everyone! My name is Nozomi Nishiyama and I’m a UTokyo junior who majors in mechanical engineering. I love math and physics, which is why I’m learning engineering at college. Far more than that, however, I do love English. More precisely put, I just don’t love it. I’m obsessed. Today, I’d like to tell you who I am and what’s made me so into English.
I am now blogging in English, so some of you might be wondering if I am a returnee. Truth be told, I’d never stayed abroad until I studied in the states for one semester this year. I had a very rigid inferiority complex about my inability to understand English at all when little. English was too foreign for me to feel familiar with. I thought it was something unreal, something that had nothing to do with my life.
My journey in learning English began when I entered middle school as a part of mandatory education. An encounter with a teacher at my tutor school drastically changed my view. She is one of the persons who I respect most. She was very passionate and inspirational, which really kept me going. Furthermore, her English pronunciation couldn’t be more fascinating to me. Young as I was back then, I still vividly remember when I first heard her speak English. Her voice literally resonated in my heart and I fell in love with its beauty and strength. That was the start of my journey and it went on and on.
Hopefully, most of you are learning English very hard now. So did I. But how many of you have ever thought seriously about why you are learning it? Please take your time and see how you will respond. Maybe just for fun? In order to be “internationally-minded”? Because you need it to pass the entrance exams? Or more simply, it might be because you are in school. What I want to tell you today is that your whys matter. They really do. The rest of this blog is about how my whys have changed.
I lived in such a rural area that I had nobody with whom I could practice English conversation. Looking back, all of my English experiences were from school and textbooks. Whereas I loved it, it was nothing more than a subject that I learned at school. This is very likely to be the case with many of you, who are, by the way, kind enough to read my article. (Thank you very much!)
It was in the fall of my third year of high school that my view on English changed again. I met a Chilean girl on a language-exchange website, who speaks only English and Spanish. We just wanted to better understand each other, so we chatted in English out of necessity. Until then, I’d never mutually interacted with others without Japanese, and honestly speaking, it was a lot of fun. We’ve known each other for more than three years, and still keep in touch.
Enjoyable conversations with her made me realize that English is a tool of communication. We all use Japanese language to get information, enjoy cognitive activities, and interact with the world. Many of you probably have never considered English as such, but what Japanese language is to us is what English is to billions of people all over the world. The thing is you can be one of those who use English as a tool of communication. In fact, you already are if you are with me not to learn English, but for any other reason. The reason why I learn English is to connect myself with the world without which I would have no access to. It’s broadened my world way more than I ever imagined it would. I have so many friends that I would have never met without it, including the girl from Chile. I have so many things that I would have never known without it. I have so many experiences that I would never had without it. My dream of studying abroad came true this year, which is just a fraction of these experiences. English has opened up my world and changed my life path.
As you become an undergraduate student in a few years, I also want you to think about your whys. I think here it’s important for me to remind you that the entrance exams are not the end of your journey. After you’re welcomed by college, you will seldom be asked how much grammatical knowledge you have or how many English words you know. The question will be how you want to connect yourself with the world. My wish for you is that you go on to the next level as soon as possible and figure out the true meaning to learning English so that you can use it in some practical ways in the near future, or even now. To conclude this post, I will leave you with a question: why do you learn English? Thank you so much for reading it to the end!