Imitating Language Environment

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Article #1

Mastering a foreign language means mastering such skills as Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking.
You can’t say that a person is fluent in foreign language if one of the skills is not developed sufficiently, for example, a person can not read, write, comprehend speech (listening skill) or speak. Of all the 4-skills, the most difficult one to master undoubtedly  is speaking. Why is this so?

Anyone can perfect reading, writing and listening skills on their own. However, in order to practice speaking one needs a conversational partner. Speaking is a tool of communication between people, it always requires an interlocutor to whom you convey your thoughts and feelings, your opinion or simply, some information. That’s why the most common advice for the development of speaking skills when learning a foreign language is to communicate with a native speaker. Yet, finding an interlocutor who is a native speaker to practice speaking on a daily or weekly basis is already a huge challenge.

Even if you find them, sometimes certain difficulties can pop-up when trying to establish a communication:

1. A native speaker can't always adjust to a simplified language to match your level, which ends up in difficulties to follow native speaker's fast speech rate.

2. A native speaker, unless they are a professional language teacher or a tutor, won't correct your mistakes or point out wrong pronunciation.

3. If you can't hear or understand something, it can be inconvenient or even embarrassing to ask the same thing again and again.

And if you successfully started a conversation and overcame everything described above, you might still be boiling in these thoughts:"I want to say something but the right words don't come up"

"Can't formulate my thoughts quickly enough"
“I’m worried I'll be misunderstood or I'll offend someone unintentionally"
“I’m simply afraid of making a mistake"

The mix of all these thoughts and difficulties cause you to generally feel “Shy to speak”, which is usually attributed to inner insecurity. However, most often the reason is that a person is not insecure but simply does not know what to say, how to express thoughts clearly and what words and phrases to use in a given situation, because his entire learning process was based on vocabulary from a textbook, which is far from what native speakers use in their everyday life. Eventually, one can get into a vicious cycle where to learn to speak you have to speak with a native speaker, but to speak with them you have to know what to say and to know what to say, you have to speak with native speaker. Sounds crazy!

It seems like there is one essential step is missing. A step where you can prepare yourself for a real life conversation by getting the necessary vocabulary and practicing it through listening to it and actually saying it out loud. Something we all did when we attended second language classes at school but in a very small doses. The process that helps you to develop your articulation and be able to produce sentences step by step becoming more and more fluent in speaking.

Our app is giving you this step, a springboard to a smooth Japanese conversation. The process of training with Aomi is like being in different life situations with a native speaker, listening to what they say and repeating after them. By practicing without the actual interlocutor being present, you get rid of the anxiety the real conversation may cause and focus only your personal speaking practice and pronunciation development. You can listen to phrases as many times as you want in slow or fast pace of speech. You can read phrases and conversations that you are practicing orally, to understand and keep the vocabulary. You can take as much time as you want to practice your pronunciation repeating after a native speaker and see the correctness of your pronunciation right away.

You won't feel uncomfortable, judged or misunderstood yet you will get the necessary feedback on your speaking improvement and what needs more work. No one will hear your speech if it's far from perfect. This tool is like your personal speaking gym that gets you prepared for a real life conversation, equipping you with:

1. Proper vocabulary for real spoken Japanese language
2. Correct pronunciation and Intonation
3. Situational phrases for maintaining a natural conversation

We hope that our app will help you to gain speaking confidence by arming you with some conversational expressions that you can use immediately in life.

Aomi Japanese, to some extent, simulates the language environment. Therefore, classes are not divided into levels, and we do not determine what level of language proficiency the application is designed for*. After all, in real life, when you communicate with native speakers, they don't ask you about your language level in order to decide how to talk to you. They talk to you normally like they would do to other native speakers. In the process of such communication, you enrich your vocabulary with expressions you catch from the conversation to use them later yourself. This is what language environment is.

In addition to that, we would like to add that speaking in general cannot be divided into levels, and one can't always accurately determine their level of Japanese language proficiency. Not everyone passes JLPT (Japanese Proficiency Language Test) and even if they do, since JLPT, unlike IELTS or TOEFL, doesn’t have a speaking section, a person may be completely unable to speak, while receiving a N1 level certificate (the highest possible for JLPT).

Very often, students who want to enter a Japanese university or work for a Japanese company spend a lot of time preparing for the JLPT, as it is often mandatory for a successful admission or employment. At the same time they hardly develop any conversational skills. However, no workplace or university will accept someone who cannot communicate in Japanese unless it is a completely an English-speaking environment, which is quite rare in Japan.

This situation is quite common even for those who live here in Japan.Of course, Aomi Japanese app will not replace communication with a real person. To achieve fluency you will still have to practice a real life conversation with real people like with any other foreign language. But it will still help you to gain initial speaking confidence providing you with the “arsenal” of useful phrases and lots of speaking practice to get used to listening to Japanese speech and speaking Japanese. So, in a sense, Aomi is your personal speaking trainer who adjusts to your pace, time, and abilities.

Practice your speaking skill with Aomi ♥