OCHANOMIZU UNIVERSITY, TOKYO, JAPAN
When I think about myself, how I have been formed, I always assume English is an inevitable thing for my life. I have learned tremendous things by studying English and I encountered many people. Studying English absolutely opened a new world for me and it made me open my views. In this essay I would like to illustrate the relationship between English and I.
I started studying English when I was a junior high school student. I entered one private junior high school and the curriculum there emphasized English. Because of this, I had many English classes compared to students in other schools and I had English lessons by a native speaker at least once a week. I did not have any clear purpose, but I was really interested in studying English at that time. I just wanted to progress in English skills more and more. So I studied English hard everyday. I used any materials for study at that time. I subscribed to a weekly English newspaper and read every article, even though I did not understand the content very well. I also listened to national public radio almost every day though I did not understand it at all.
As I was really absorbed in English, I decided to major in English in the university. I just wanted to continue studying English and improve my English skills. After I entered the university, there were many chances for studying English. When I was a freshman, I participated in studying abroad program in New Zealand. I studied English for six weeks there. Thanks to this experience, I was really motivated for studying English compared to before. In addition, energetic and powerful people there gave me energy and I became more positive.
After I came back to Japan, I studied English harder and harder. I was interested in studying somewhere as an exchange student and I studied hard to have an opportunity for exchange studies. Fortunately, when I was a junior, I got an opportunity to study in Finland as an exchange student. Finland is not an English-speaking country, but I wanted to know how English was taught there. I was also interested in the attitude Finnish people have toward English.
Studying in Finland was very interesting and I experienced a lot of things. Summer is only for two months and during that time, the sun shines until late at night. On the other hand, in winter, there is hardly any sunshine for a few months. People there are strong enough to overcome harsh winter and they cherish nature very much. I felt that nature is in the center of Finnish people’s lives.
Finnish people speak good English. So, I did not have any difficulties communicating with them even though I did not understand Finnish very well. In the university, some classes are available in English as well. Surprisingly, all classes in the English philology department, (the department in which I studied), were available in English. Most professors and students are Finnish but they teach and discuss in English.
Staying in this kind of small country taught me crucial things for my life. Beautiful lakes there indicated to me how important it is to be myself. Lakes are everywhere in Finland and I often went to see them when I had some hardships. Watching the surface of beautiful lakes made me calm down and they gave me energy to move forward. Walking around lakes was one of the most crucial activities for me. In addition, I also learned the importance of having a strong will. I always had difficulties with classes in the university and it was challenging for me to study together with Finnish students there. Their English competency is very high and I always compared myself with them. One day, I asked one professor some questions about English pronunciation. As I did not have confidence about pronunciation, I asked him how I should practice. He answered my question and he also told me the saying ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way.’ He said that I can improve my pronunciation because I have a will. This phrase encouraged me a lot and I practiced harder and harder. This saying still helps me when I have some problems.
English is just one language, but it is crucial for me. Studying English is a tool to spread my view. I encountered many people and learned many things with English. I visited New Zealand because I wanted to improve my English skills and I experienced a lot in Finland because I could communicate in English. Studying English helps me to grow as a person; it is more than just learning a language. I have been studying English for 10 years so far and I am still studying it. Studying English is a way to experience many things and I believe it will help me to find a way to contribute to society. I would like to continue studying English so that I am able to give something back.