Out of practice: Why exposure is necessary for language learning

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The other night I did a little bit of interpretation for the first time in a long time, maybe a month or two. To say I was rusty was an understatement. Thankfully there was another interpreter there to provide support when I needed it, but I didn’t feel to confident in my ability afterwards if I’m being honest. I use Japanese every day with my wife and a lot for work, but I think I’m just not getting the exposure that keeps your listening and speaking skills up.

This is one issue to come from staying at home most of the time, and I guess I just need to do a better job of being exposed to the language from outside my house. I don’t particularly enjoy Japanese TV, I think it’s deplorable, and watching movies without subtitles can get very tiring very easily. I realise I get most of my exposure through conversation, and not having the opportunity seems to be taking its toll. I’m still not comfortable with going out to where large groups of people are, I see many Japanese people ignoring rules around moving between prefectures and face coverings, not to mention there has been a rise in cases in the area, so I guess the only real solution is to buck up and watch TV or movies, and listen to podcasts (or maybe I could push my wife for more scintillating conversations like we’ve done in the past).

When it comes to translation (written word), some advice I got from a translator friend a few years back was to make sure you keep up your English skills as well, one great way to do that is with a daily blog. So that aspect I feel comfortable with, but when it comes to speaking, I’m going to need a bit of time to get back to where I’m comfortable for long stretches of time (like interpreting Master Hoshino’s five minute speeches). You do what you can, I guess.



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Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi

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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan 


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