One of the sessions this week was to talk about why I do what I do now. It was interesting, and I had some questions to answer, so I'll write them down before I forget.
Question 1: How did you study English?
When I was cycling around Australia, I had a car accident, and I couldn't understand what the doctors were saying, so I decided to study as hard as I could because I thought it would be fatal if I didn't understand English.
Like the book, Ultra learning says, it's essential to immerse yourself in it and do it in real, not practice. After I kicked off my bike ride in Australia, I decided to go to a university abroad, and I seriously studied English. I didn't think I had ever studied for an exam before, but at this time, I did indeed study for the TOEFL whenever I had time. I used the radio to study English as the internet did not exist at that time. There was an English conversation programme on the radio at about 11.30 pm so that I would take a bath at that time. As I love surfing, I read surfing magazines in English, and I used to buy surfing goods from California. On Saturday nights, I would go to a bar in the city where there were many foreigners and use my English, and then I would stay in the car at the beach and surf from the beginning of the morning. Anyway, it's better to get used to something than to learn it, so I made sure that I was exposed to as much English as possible in rural Japan. Furthermore, all activities are real, such as buying products or getting the information you want to know.
Another thing is not to worry about it. You may not realise it until you start working with researchers at the UN or the European Union, but only a tiny percentage of them speak English as their first language. So many of them have some accent. A Frenchman has a French accent, an Indian has an Indian accent. It doesn't make you a bad or good English speaker. It just makes you think, "Oh, he's French". I think that students who have never been abroad, or those who have been but only to learn English, have a complex about their accent and get intimidated when speaking up.
I think that this immersive environment and the fact that you start with the real thing and not with practice are good ways of saying that it's better to get used to something than to learn it. This is also true for learning other skills. For example, in my recent hobby, charcoal sketches, I have found myself doing three things that I would rather get used to than learn.
I always do 15 minutes of croquis every day.
I take a shower, looking at pictures for reference.
I take notes during meetings with an overhanging grip on the lead holder I use for croquis.
I'm still doing the same things I did when I was 20.