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Do you know the term “polyglot?” Polyglot means speaking or using several different languages. How can we use multiple languages? As a person who has been struggling to acquire language skills my whole life, I have been eager to get the chance to know the hidden tips to acquire several languages. If you are interested in psychology, you might know a multilingual brain has cognitive benefits as well! In this article, I will interview an APU student who uses four languages fluently so that we could steal her tips to be a polyglot!
College of Asia Pacific Studies (APS) 4th year
My name is Kodcha. Thank you for giving me this opportunity. Currently I am in my fourth year at APS.
Since I was born and raised in Thailand, my mother tongue is Thai. Other than that, I can use English, Japanese, and Chinese.
My English level is almost native. My Japanese proficiency is probably at N2. N1 is the highest level, so my Japanese is business level. For Chinese, I can speak as a native person, but my writing and reading is business level.
I started studying English at a kindergarten in Thailand. My school asked us to memorize English vocabulary every morning, and then I had to say the vocabulary words that I memorized to my teacher. In primary school, that was 5 words in a day and in elementary was 8 words plus English verbs. I kept this habit while I went to high school. I set my goal at 10 words in a day with synonyms and antonyms. I was also studying by myself by reading books. I shifted my basic environment to English as much as possible, such as switching my phone settings. Since we don’t need to use English daily in my country, I created the environment by myself by participating in special activities. I was in charge of student PR staff and MC using English. In addition, I actively took a native English teacher as my buddy
For Japanese, I watched a lot of Japanese dramas so I could get to know daily conversations. I could use anime to learn some fancy words, but those were not really effective or usable in daily life. Therefore, I practiced my listening skills by using J-drama. In addition, I did speaking practice. Before I came to Japan, it was very hard to get a chance to practice my Japanese speaking skill so that I chose to do shadowing. I repeated Japanese conversations to get used to the Japanese speaking style.
I started learning Chinese in my high school. I have been studying this language as it is one of the strongest languages in the world market. In my personal practice, I had used almost the same way to practice for Chinese as Japanese, but Chinese vocabulary is very hard, so every day, I wrote 10 words of Chinese vocabulary in my notebook. That was 1 word 3 times each and I also created a sentence from that vocabulary. Also, I participated in Chinese study circle and I served as a leader in my last year!
For both English and Japanese, my motivation is related to what I love! I love to learn accents, so leaning a new accent from media was always my new motivation. In regarding to Japan, my desire to go back to Japan was also my motivation. When I was a high school student, I spent two weeks in Oisuka high school in Japan (Currently, OISCA Hamamatsu Kokusai High School) for my high school program. Even after I went back to Thailand, I couldn’t forget about the view on the way home from the school. I was motivated to go back to Japan as a college student.
For Chinese, my first motivation was getting good grades since it contained a big number of credits. But once I started to learn Chinese, my earnest desire for self-improvement allowed me to improve my Chinese skill. In addition, my motivation grew when I received a good score on my Chinese proficiency test.
In APU, most of the classes are held in two languages, which are English and Japanese. Since I am an English-basis student, I have to use English. A class called SSAW (Study Skills and Writing) helped me to acquire academic writing. Speaking of Japanese, my first Japanese class in APU was Foundation 2. In APU, we take a Japanese placement test. The test measures Kanji and grammar skills. There were 16 students in the class. It was super great environment to acquire Japanese because I had 8 classes in a week with same teacher and friends, who were easy to get along with. Currently, I am in Japan, so I keep studying Japanese by myself and try using it in my daily life.
In addition, we have a big Chinese community in APU, so it is great environment for me, who really into Chinese language. I feel I have more support for my Chinese improvement here. Therefore, I proudly say that I utilize all four languages here.
If you are keen to practice English or Japanese, I really liked the class named "Special Lecture" in languages. The class is held in two languages, Japanese and English. In the class, we have to use both languages for researching, discussing, and presenting. It helped me to get used to academic Japanese.
If you are a beginner, you shouldn’t hesitate to use and communicate with the language. Just set one goal and go for it. If you achieve the goal, you will be in a new world that you have never experienced.
I think writing is very effective for learning languages. I know it takes so much time, but once you write it, your brain will see it, your hand will remember it. It was very useful for me.
Through this interview, I realized that even my friend who looks like she uses languages without any struggle had put a lot of effort to obtain her language skills. As a person who wants to acquire English to handle any situation, I personally was impressed. In addition, she was patient with me when I couldn’t find my words. People who try to study languages can share their struggles. I will keep in mind to be nice to language beginners as well. We have amazing people at our university, APU.
Nice to meet you! I am a fourth year APS student who loves to try new things. I am 100% Japanese with no experience studying abroad by Japanese standards. I want to have academic conversations with my international student friends, so I'm taking advantage of quarantine to study English! Once things turn around, I'll be back on the road to various places~! Best regards.