You need to inhabit the language and the culture

Once again, it seems that I’m feeling down about things in Japan, and my life here. There was one thing that I heard Steve Kaufmann say that has struck a chord with me recently.

He said that, in order to facilitate one’s language learning, one should try to inhabit the language space — which means trying to step in the footsteps of a native speaker.

It’s not just the language, but the way of life.

And that helps in some small way to explain two things, which are the same thing — why I’m finding it so hard to learn the language, and why my mood has been so glum recently.

The first thing is a result of the other thing, and it’s the other way round, too.

Long story short: I don’t feel like I fit in to Japanese society. This is natural, but really in my case it’s probably much more than that.

If I were to be truthful, I would admit that I don’t want to be here.

I want to be in New Zealand. Back at the Department of Labour. Back doing data work.

Instead, I’m going to be stuck here at The Japan Times for the rest of my life. Stuck doing this work I’m not even particularly good at.

And that’s the best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is that the company goes out of business and I lose my job. Then, it’s back to teaching English for a living, for peanuts.

But, going back to the subject of this post — my Japanese learning has been hampered by the fact that I just don’t’ want to here.

That resistance to living here becomes a resistance to learning the language.

I need to get over this hump!


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