Japanese People and English

Today I would love to write about Japanese people’s accent when we speak English.

Today I took an online lesson from a Filipino tutor. However, the tutor’s accent was very deep, and I couldn’t understand what he wanted to say easily. Normally I’ve never say “Please say it again” in my conversations because I can understand my tutors spoken English easily. While I was taking his lesson, I repeated the phrase so many times. Right now I’m feeling frustrated a lot.

However, I’m wondering if my spoken English also sounds like that to my tutors. Most of the tutors told me that my spoken English sounds understandable. However when I listen to the phrase “Please say it again” from tutors, I start to be concerned about my pronunciation.

As you know in the Japanese language we don’t have some sounds in English. Therefore, it is hard for us to make the sounds properly. I think the most popular sounds which we can’t make are “L” and “R” sounds. When we pronounce our language, I think we use the throat more and use our tongues moving or mouths moving less. On the other, when we speak English, we must move our  tongues and mouths more and use our throats at the same time. It’s really tough for us.

Meanwhile, I know some people treat us as if we are stupid because we can’t pronounce clearly. I think that in the world it is  common knowledge that Japanese people can’t speak English. Even if we can speak English, our accent sounds very weird. When I watch movies, and in the movies some Japanese people speak English with a very strong accent, I feel very sad.

I think that accents and pronunciation are related to each other. I guess today’s tutor’s English level is really advanced because he taught me various fancy words. However, I couldn’t communicate with him easily. I can’t help that accents are like a BIG mountain which we can’t overcome. However, if my spoken English makes someone feel uncomfortable, I really would love to fix it.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tutor Alfonso
    Jun 13, 2010 @ 10:48:26

    I am impressed with the way you express yourself. You are sensitive to the things around you.
    As for me, knowledge of a foreign language is not a measure of true intelligence. So, don’t feel sad if your accent is not that of Americans/British.


    • yumi
      Jul 14, 2010 @ 17:10:04

      Hi, thanks for the comment. tutor Alfonso. I’m very glad that you commented on me. However, I’m very sorry I’m late to comment back to you.
      I look forward to chatting wtih you next time! Talk to you soon!!!


  2. Tami Shepherd
    Dec 21, 2010 @ 00:18:21

    Have you considered that people who speak English don’t sound like each other, or that very few bother learning Japanese? I recommend you be proud of your ability and accept that unless you lived in an English-speaking country your level of practice is limited to other Japanese people learning English, and so your language is affected by each other. Have you tried recording your voice and then listening to it later on to see how it compares to examples of “unaccented” English sounds? Then you’ll know the words and sounds that need more work.
    Also, have you considered how different people from the USA and Canada sound to people from the UK or Australia? And if you were to listen to people in the USA, you’d find that people in New England sound quite a bit different from people in Texas or California. In the UK, people who live near Scotland sound a lot different than people from London. So what, really, is unaccented English?
    I imagine your English is wonderfully done and intelligible to most people who want to understand. I am certain that if I tried to learn Japanese, you’d be laughing at my feeble attempts to make even the simplest of sounds. I’m just happy you are learning English well enough that I can visit some day and we can have a conversation without an interpreter!


  3. Nick DeDomenico
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 11:46:56

    I can understand how you feel about your pronunciation, but just the fact that you are learning and trying is more than enough for someone to overlook a little bit of mistakes. Many people who speak english don’t even pronounce things properly, nor do they speak properly. I am sure you are doing just fine.

    I am having a similar problem recently. I finally found a small group that meets twice a month to study Japanese. However, when I go, it is hard to remember how to say things in Japanese. I remember little words but when I try to make sentences I forget many things. I worry that I will not sound intelligent and the instructor will not understand me. But I will still go and practice because I really like it and I like the sound of Japanese language.

    Just keep going. You are doing great.


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