My very first speaking experience: surprisingly positive!

I just had my last lesson and I’m completely and utterly exhausted. Three days in a row was really more than I bargained for! I think this speaking experience has been really valuable and I’d like to continue with a tutor in the future, but something like once a week would definitely be much less stressful.

Today’s lesson was with a professional teacher, and it had a totally different style from my other lessons. We did a formal evaluation that covered a mix of skills - identifying kanji, self-introduction, reading a paragraph aloud, roleplaying ordering food at a restaurant, etc. It was pretty tough, and my internet cut out in the middle, which didn’t help!

It definitely felt like she was less interested in me personally than the other teachers, and honestly? That kind of helped with my anxiety, haha. At the end of the lesson she sent me a whole document with my evaluation results, as well as a bunch of corrected sentences from our conversation. The results were actually pretty interesting - she was impressed with my reading ability (thanks WK!) and put me at around N4 level overall. It’s nice to get some validation for my totally self-assessed abilities! She gave me a 4/5 on communication ability but a 2/5 on fluency - I’m not totally clear on the difference?

Anyway, I’ve booked another lesson for next week to see what she’s like when she’s not doing a test. Even though the last few days have been overwhelming, I’m really glad I tried this! I’m a lot less intimidated by the idea of speaking now, and I absolutely recommend it to anyone who’s been on the fence so far.

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Generally communication ability would mean getting your point across, such as if you’re looking for toothpicks but don’t know the word, you can ask for “little wood for teeth.” (This remains one of the few things I can still say in Bahasa Indonesia.) Whatever works!

Fluency, when contrasted with communication ability, is how your speaking “flows.” If you spend a lot of time searching for a word, then you’re not going to sound fluent. It’s quite possible to sound fluent without really knowing the language well, such as a French actress speaking Italian by rote for a film role (such as Bianco come il latte, rosso come il sangue).

These are two separate metrics and both are separate from vocabulary and knowledge of the language - each refers to how you can put it together, but in different ways. It’s possible to be pretty good at getting your point across, or sound pretty fluent, with a relatively small vocabulary if you practice speaking a lot, or focus on learning common phrases and patterns instead of isolated words.

I’d say that communication ability can really only be improved by practicing speaking on the fly, and it’s transitive across languages - that is, I come into learning a new language with pretty good ability to communicate because I have a lot of practice in getting my point across with a limited vocabulary (though you wouldn’t know that from my writing in English). Fluency can be improved by techniques such as shadowing, reading aloud, and studying phrases and patterns.

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Oh, that makes sense! Yeah, even though I felt like I generally got where I was going in the end, I definitely had to pause a lot while constructing my sentences mentally. I guess my score sounds about right, then. Thanks for the explanation!

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A personal staple of mine is もう一度言ってください :slight_smile:

Anyway, congratulations! It will get easier if you stick to it! (I used to be red as a tomato, sweating profusely. Now I mostly just treat it like any old conversation… even if my Japanese is still often weird)

If you ever plan on going to Japan, I personally found it super helpful to have gotten to the point where I could at least speak without hesitation, even if what came out wasn’t perfect.

In fact, more than improving your Japanese as such, I think that learning not to be bothered by your mistakes and just talk is what’s the most useful!

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どういうことなのかというと、やがて「言う」をよく言うねっていうことに気付きますね。

(You might be thinking, “What do you mean?,” but eventually, you’ll come to realize that you often say 言う)

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I’m gonna try my luck explaining the difference, but I have to say that even as a Chinese speaker, I haven’t got these down pat. Could be a testament to how much my Chinese has deteriorated, but even the dictionary says that these two are (apparently) equivalent in Chinese, just that one can be used as a noun, while the other is more common in poetry.

Anyway, so… see, the problem is that 栄 (traditional form: 榮) itself can carry the idea of honour or glory, and that’s why it’s so unclear… it’s actually associated with ideas like ‘prospering’, ‘thriving’, ‘having a reputation/status’. I mean, look at the traditional form and imagine the energy and vigour of the blazing flames. That’s what it’s like.

So how can we tell them apart? I mean, I tried using a Japanese dictionary, and when I started from the definition of 栄光, with a 1-2 clicks on words I didn’t know, I ended up on definition that used 光栄, so it’s obvious that they’re really close. What I’m going to do is to concentrate on parts of the definition where the same words were used, but in different constructions, and then try to link those words to the kanji. Here are the relevant bits (my translations may be literal at times to avoid contrived associations with ‘honour’ or ‘glory’ that don’t use the kanji for justification):
光栄: …名誉に思うこと。= an abstract thing thought of as one’s reputation/fame
栄光: …大きな名誉。= a big/great reputation/fame

So it seems that 光栄 is something that can be thought of in a manner that contributes to one’s reputation, or as something that gives one a reputation, whereas 栄光 is that reputation. Why is that? Well, generally (though not always), what comes before modifies what comes after. In other words, in the first case, 光 describes 栄, whereas in the second 栄 describes 光. In addition (though this may be more confusing that helpful), in Chinese, 光 can be a verb that means ‘to cause to shine/become brighter’ (figuratively, usually), whereas 栄 isn’t a verb at all. Thus:

  • 光栄 is a bright state of thriving and prosperity, a sort of shining status or reputation. Admittedly, that sounds like both ‘honour’ and ‘glory’, but if we take the ‘光 is a verb’ interpretation, we’ll realise that something that ‘makes one’s reputation shine’ has to be an honour, whereas glory is the result of that honour. I personally tend to think of 光栄 as an adjective more than a noun, because if I say 光栄です, I’m more focused on the fact that something is ‘honourable’ than that it is, for instance, ‘the highest honour that the nation can bestow upon…’. More importantly, (and this should help clear up the confusion)…
  • 栄光 is the light of fame, of a good reputation, of prosperity, of thriving. That’s what the 光 in second position indicates. That means that 栄光 is something that shines upon others and draws their attention. Only glory does that. Honour is more of an internal thing, and someone who is honoured does not necessarily ‘shine’ upon the world because he or she may not be honoured publicly. Therefore, 栄光 is glory.

That’s my analysis anyway. But how I personally remember it is: 光栄 feels like an adjective, while 栄光 feels like a noun, specifically a kind of light. After that… I work from there. What’s more like a light, and what’s more like an adjective? I mean, we don’t say ‘it’s been a glory’, do we? Only ‘it’s been an honour’. :wink:

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I think you have them backwards こうえい is honor, えいこう is glory

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I had a similar experience in Tokyo except it was an old lady serving at a tofu restaurant who chattered away to me in Japanese and didn’t seem at all surprised that I was replying in japanese but was AMAZED that I could use chopsticks :rofl: :rofl:

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That sounds hilarious since Japanese people are stereotypically really surprised that foreigners can speak Japanese. Still, I have to admit that I’m often quite surprised when I see people of non-East Asian origin using chopsticks proficiently (unless they grew up in a multicultural area where chopsticks are common). It’s obviously not an eating implement exclusive to any one culture, but I tend to think there’s no incentive to learn if everyone around you is using forks, knives and spoons. I grew up in a place where Western and Eastern utensils were common, and I sometimes find chopsticks too finicky to use (even though I carry a pair in my suitcase) e.g. when you have a container with many grooves and you just can’t get that last grain of rice. In any case, congratulations on your chopstick prowess. :stuck_out_tongue: :smiley:

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Don’t remind me of that nightmare. Now that they are out of my queue, I think I’ve forgotten them again.

Congratulations though.

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はい、そうですねと言うと思います :wink:

Never mind the Japanese part, I’m already impressed you guys are talking to strangers.

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This was really heartening to read! I’m also pretty anxious and prefer reading or thinking/writing to myself, even in my native language. You’ve inspired me to give italki a shot. Thanks! :slight_smile:

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Oh そうですね… I have gotten through hours of conversation (including with a woman who turned out to be not quite all there - I just thought my Japanese had gotten rusty because I couldn’t follow what she was on about, but I asked my host and she said she didn’t understand her either) with nothing but this. It’s a great filler when you don’t really know what to say but want to be agreeable.

Except when I thought she was telling me magnets were dangerous (wherein I called upon そうですね’s close cousin そうですか - which is more like “Oh, really?”) and it turned out she was asking me, and she demanded an answer. (She had a flashlight under her pillow, but it was the kind that sticks to the fridge so she was worried about the magnets frying her brain in the night or something.) I told her I thought it was okay (大丈夫だと思う).

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Haha yeah, you can get by quite a bit with the following:

うん
はい
そうです(か)(ね)
そう
そーそーそー
ええ
うせー
すげえ
なるほど
もちろん

Plus, I think after watching enough interviews on Japanese TV, it’s hard not to interject 相槌 when you’re speaking.

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Very very well done :slight_smile: It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there and speak in a language you’re studying on your own.

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Congratulations! And thank you for telling us about your experience.
I’m quite intimidated by the thought of having to speak to strangers/natives, so that definitely gave me a push to at least take another look on italki :sweat_smile:

Did you prepare for your lessons or did you just dive right in?
Aside from being able to say a few things about oneself, why one is studying japanese and where one wants to go with it - what should a preparation for this include?

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My husband has had to listen to my skype classes for the last 3 months (before covid I used to go to my tutor’s house) and this is now his favourite phrase.

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Haha, that’s brilliant. :wink:

My family has to listen to my Japanese playlist when I drive and I think they’re starting to learn the lyrics. lol

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My mom actually happened to like some of the Japanese singers-songwriters I’m listening to, and she’s now listening to them too :slight_smile:

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