Monday, October 06, 2003

California Wine Drinking Holiday : Language lesson

During my holiday, I stayed in Napa to see my Japanese friend there. But because 1) she had a baby 2) I was interested in life of American in America rather than of Japanese in America, I arranged to not only stay friend's home but also homestay at local family through local language with few lessons with expectation of being able to see some more wine-drinking company with me.
(It's not my original idea at all. I've seen in London some Canadian and European who spoke English but still came to language school just for talking with more people over their summer vacation.)

Well, my expectation was betrayed, as I was alone at my level in the school, and turned to another kind of interesting experience.

One of my teachers was a wish-to-be-dancer of her mid thirty I guess, always talking over cell phone in her free time. She asked me If I have any particular I want to study and I said "pronunciation" to mean all my speaking weakness.
On hearing this word, she went out and fetched some books from next room, showed me one of book saying "you must mean this one" in her convincing voice, it was a children learning book about "r". Realizing I used wrong word, saying I quickly said "No, I mean...." but before making my words, she then showed me one by one, about "l", "w" and "x".

It took while effort to make her hear me; I meant sound problem like this case. On a way to Napa by local bus from Vallejo following ferry travel from SF Fisherman’s Wharf, a name of bus stop I wanted to get off was called "pearl street". And I've got ask driver to let me know when I got there. I know the word “pearl” well what it meant and how it was sound in Katakana Japanese. But the moment speaking this word, I was not sure if this word sounds like "pearl", "par-lu" or "pea-le" or something else and this made me panicked while. (because all of them sounds the same in Katakana, I come to neglect sound difference in daily life in Japan.) Recovering “sound” of English from Katakana always bothers me.

Once she understood my trouble, she was quick and great. She taught me an idea of phonics and sound spelling that are new to me and suggested hints to look for where I can study them in Japan. She also taught me some tips of yoga to improve voice clearer. In the end I could learn good hints of improving "English speaking" I couldn’t find out alone in Japan during just few hours lessons there. Good God!