Navigating the Language Barrier as an International Student in Japan

Hello/ こんにちは/ Xin chào/ Bonjour/ Hola/… To you who gonna read my blog, my name is Tracy! I'm a second-year IR student at TIU, and also one of the leaders in this year's festival committee (come to my team if you are a food lover like me 😋)

Studying abroad in Japan can be an incredible experience, but it can also come with its challenges - one of which is navigating the language barrier. Whether you're attending classes, working a part-time job, or just trying to navigate daily life, the language barrier can be a major obstacle. As someone who has stayed in Japan as an international student, I can relate to this experience. In this post, I'll talk about some ways that have helped me navigate the language barrier and improve my communication skills.

1.Immerse Yourself in the Language

One of the best ways to improve your language skills is to immerse yourself in the language as much as possible. This can mean listening to Japanese music, watching Japanese TV shows and movies, or even just reading Japanese signs and advertisements. In my case, I tried to write down every Japanese song lyrics that I liked, and mimic the way the singer sang it. The more you expose yourself to the language, the more you'll start to understand and recognize common words and phrases. Plus, immersing yourself in the language can be a fun and enjoyable way to learn!

2.Trying out Language Classes

Taking language classes is another great way to improve your communication skills. TIU also offers Japanese language classes for international students, so be sure to take advantage of this opportunity. Not only will you improve your language skills, but you'll also have the opportunity to meet other international students and practice your communication skills in a supportive environment.

3.Practice your Japanese in daily life conversation

One of the best ways to improve your language skills is to practice with native speakers. This can be intimidating at first, but don't be afraid to put yourself out there and make friends with Japanese locals or J-track students. Joining a club can be a great way to meet people who share similar interests, and it is a great opportunity to practice your language skills in a low-pressure setting. If you're nervous about speaking in Japanese, start with simple phrases and build up your confidence over time. Getting a part time job in Japan is another great way to practice your Japanese, because it forces you to speak and think in Japanese, this will open the door to another world that you never knew in your textbook.

(The photo on the right is me and my Judo gang members 😎)

4.Be Patient and Persistent

Improving your language skills takes time and effort, so be patient with yourself and don't get discouraged if you don't see progress right away. It's important to stay persistent and consistent with your language practice, even if it's just a few minutes a day. Remember, don’t force yourself to remember every single phrase in a short time, let your mind and body memorize it. Try to be calm, say it slowly, then speed it up when you’re 100% confident! (This tip helps me while working in 7 Eleven a lot!)

Navigating the language barrier as an international student in Japan can be a challenge, but it's also an opportunity to learn and grow. By immersing yourself in the language, taking language classes, practicing with native speakers, using language-learning apps, and staying patient and persistent, you can improve your communication skills and make the most of your time in Japan. Good luck!