Recently on the news, there have been reports about requiring Japanese ability for certain visas. I just read today that the law could be passed pretty soon. As I am an avid fan of Japanese, I have no problems with this new law, in fact, I welcome it wholeheartedly. The reason I do, is simply because it’ll push a lot of foreigners to study the language more. I’ve heard of so many foreigners who are hard up because they can’t speak the language or understand it, but when asked why they don’t try, they often use the excuse that it’s too hard or that they’re lazy. A high level isn’t needed I think, just basic conversation or something close to basic.
But talking about Japanese competence, the other day at work, I was trading stories with a Japanese co-worker about traditions and beliefs in my country. And when I couldn’t think of a word to explain something, I took out my dictionary and read out the translation… only to shock everyone in the office! It seems the word I used was horribly offensive and pertained to things totally beyond polite and proper. So I found myself in a truly embarrassing situation where in addition to giving everyone a nasty thing to remember me by, I also felt my Japanese was still far from perfect.
It’s probably going to take decades before I even get close to knowing enough about Japanese and Japan, but using this last episode with Japanese as my motivation, I want to try to at least get to a level where I don’t embarrass myself. For those who are really interested in Japanese, I recently discovered this site for beginners: Learn Simple Japanese. I hoped to make my site something like it in the beginning but I haven’t had the chance to put things together just yet. The lessons in this site though are basic and are really simple to learn. It has audio files for pronunciation practice, too. Check it out!