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Shadowing: Let’s Speak Japanese! Series Review – Learn to Speak Your Way Out of the Shadows

You’re deep in conversation with a friend, a co-worker, or maybe a kaiju. You understand everything being said, nodding along and doing the good ol’ aizuchi. A brilliant response or comment is forming in your mind. You open your mouth to speak…and fumble, stammer, get flustered. What comes out is nothing at all like you imagined. As a result, the kaiju grows bored and promptly decides to eat you. Your last thought is, I should’ve practiced more with those Shadowing: Let’s Speak Japanese! books.

Sometimes we know exactly what we want to say, but don’t know when or how to say it.

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How an Anxiety Attack Sent Me Down a Better Path

Girl looking out window

It’s May of 2012, the end of my freshman year in college. I’m sitting at a small desk, staring down at my paper, gripping a pencil, having one of the worst anxiety attacks of my life. It’s my English 201 Close Reading final exam, but more than that, it’s my future.

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How Learning a Foreign Language Helped My Social Anxiety

I don’t speak as well as I write. My inability to speak in a clear and eloquent manner derives from my social anxiety. My blunders are spurred on by intense fear to say something, anything, if only to take the weight of social responsibility off my shoulders. In friendships, in work settings, in college, I have failed the spoken English language.

Then I started learning Japanese, and I gained a whole new perspective on my anxieties.

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The Japanese Box Top

If your elementary school was anything like mine, you were probably encouraged by your teachers to bring in box tops. Box tops help raise funds for school supplies and other educational costs. They’re mostly found on cereal boxes (General Mills, ahem) but also on non-edible products as well. I don’t remember bringing many box tops to school, mostly because I was too engrossed in eating my bowl(s) of cereal to bother cutting them out.

Turns out, Japan also has something similar to the USA box top called the ベルマーク (Bellmark) or simply マーク. My partner told me how he used to cut them out and give them to his mom’s friends for their children to bring to school.

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