Lets Work On Your Yoko Meshi
Summary: Yoko Meshi
When you first learn a new language, much of what you do is private, between you and your class, your teacher or just you speaking to yourself inside you head. However, there comes a point in time where you have to use your new language skills in the real world, and a lot of us find this a hard thing to do!
It’s not just you who suffers this it’s so common the Japanese have a phrase for it. “Yoko Meshi“ is a Japanese phrase which literally translates to “a meal eaten sideways,” which is an appropriate way to describe the discomfort of speaking in a foreign language that you haven’t finished learning or are not yet fluent in.
So today we explain why Adept English exists, and why the Adept English system of learning helps you address this uncomfortable switch between learning a language and using it for the first time. We also provide you with some help in finding free resources where you can speak with real people in English (for free!).
So enjoy the lesson and remember to listen to it several times until you feel you understand all of what’s being said without having to look words or phrases up.
Audio Transcript: Lets Work On Your Yoko Meshi
Hi there and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. We’re finding that we’re getting lots of new listeners, from all sorts of places online. So we are always encouraging you to tell other people about Adept English, if they want to learn English that is. But lots of new people seem to be finding our website or finding us on iTunes, Stitcher, tunein, Spotify and the rest. So welcome if you’re new – and welcome if you’re someone who’s been listening to Adept English for quite a while.
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Have you had a look at our courses?
If you’re new, you may not realise this, but we do have courses which you can buy, rather like the podcasts, but more intense learning. And you can progress even faster, with your English language learning. We have a course called the Most Common 500 Words, which has a series of recordings, which use only the 500 most common words in the English language. And by listening to the 500 Words course, you ensure that you know these 500 words really well, they’re really familiar to you and then when you come to speak English, you’ll be able to express yourself. You may be only using simple sentences, but these 500 words will mean there is a way to say most things that you want to say. Go to our website at adeptenglish.com and have a look at our courses page. You can download the course and start straight away.
Increasing your understanding is key!
If you’re learning English, and you’re listening regularly to our podcasts, then you probably are already aware of how listening to authentic spoken English can help with your understanding. It also helps with your speaking, because it means that your understanding has becoming automatic. You don’t have to translate, you just know what the words mean. And that part is really important. As you learn a language, your understanding is always further ahead, more developed than your speaking. So if you push forward with understanding more and more, the words which you are able to use when you come to speak – they may be fewer, but they’re growing as well! So listening to lots of spoken English will be helping you learn massively and preparing the ground for speaking and conversation. I keep saying it, but it’s the same when babies learn their first language, when you and I were babies. They understand, we understood many more words than we were able to say – but that’s normal and it’s normal for us language learners too. That’s how your brain works!
But you need to practise with others
However, one of the things which tends to make language learners more successful is if you practice with other people. If you belong to a group which speaks the language you’re trying to learn, you’re much more likely to succeed. You have people to practise the language with, for one thing. So using Adept English to boost your English will work – and will really take your language learning forward. And we also help you by providing you with pronunciation practice. But when it comes to joining up understanding English with speaking English, you need to find people to practise your English with.
It could be someone in your family, who already speaks English or who’s learning too. Or it could be a friend. Or you may already visit or be living in an English speaking country. But sometimes it’s difficult because you don’t have these opportunities. And just going out and finding people you don’t know to practice your English with – well, that can be quite difficult!
Use Facetime, Zoom or Skype to improve your English
Now if you’ve been listening to our podcasts for a while, you’ll have heard me say previously that I think that being able to speak to people online is really helpful. You can use Facetime, Zoom, Skype, whatever you like and it gives us all great opportunity to meet other people and opportunity to practise. There are websites which you can join for free and which will put you in contact with other people who are learning the same language or maybe who want to learn your language, in exchange for teaching you English. I’ll give you the name of a website you can use for this at the end of this podcast So there’s plenty of opportunity to meet people online to practise your English with.
Socialise and reduce your ‘Yoko meshi’
Your motivation, your drive to learn English will be greater, it will be boosted by having contact with other people. All sorts of research shows this. People stay motivated in their language learning much, much better, if they associate that language with socialising, with having social relationships with people.
We all know that feeling of embarrassment when you’re learning a language, when you feel you might use the wrong word and native speakers either don’t understand you, or worse still, they might laugh because your mistakes are funny! And in fact, just to show you how this is a universal experience, something we all meet, the Japanese language even has a term for it. They have a phrase for that uncomfortable feeling, when you’re learning a language and you’re not confident and you feel a bit silly speaking. ‘Yoko meshi’, which literally means ‘a meal eaten sideways’. ‘Yoko meshi’ is the term used in Japanese for the discomfort of speaking a language when you aren’t as confident as you’d like to be!
Feel free to mistakes when you speak English!
So a really valuable thing about having a language partner - the other person knows that you’re learning English and may also be learning English, so all of this makes it feel better! People find that when they practise like this, they don’t have to worry so much about making mistakes. Mistakes are normal, mistakes are expected, mistakes are part of the learning process and part of the conversation! They’ll be what you talk about with your language partner. And probably the other person - they’ll correct you if they’re an English speaker, or if they’re not, they’ll be making mistakes too! So my suggestion is that you use Adept English to increase your understanding – and keep using it, because your understanding needs to keep on improving too. You need to understand more and more words, increase your vocabulary. But also find an online language partner so that you can bring your speaking on – and reduce the ‘Yoko meshi’ associated with speaking English!
Improve your English in private – then surprise people!
It’s a great thing about Adept English, you can be improving your language skills by listening – and this helps your understanding and speaking become automatic – but, you can do it in private! Nobody needs to know you’re working on your English. You can go at your own pace. There’s no embarrassment. And then, to help with your speaking, add in the online language partner so that you can practice. So by the time you go out into the world, you’ll be speaking English so well, there’ll be very little embarrassment, very little ‘Yoko meshi’.
And that website, that link for if you would like to find an online language partner to practise English with? I know it’s good, because I’ve used it myself! And it is www.conversationexchange.com. There are others – but that one seems to work really well. And it’s free, which is even better.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
PS: Force Yourself To Speak Out Loud
It’s a small thing and many people forget it, but speaking in a new language will need you to use your voice and face muscles in a completely different way.
New language learners spend so much of their time reading or writing, and a lot of “speaking to themselves in their head” that when they start the journey to fluent speaking and making sounds in the new language, it’s a complete shock to the system.
Speaking in a new language requires that you exercise the muscles in your face and around your mouth to form the words you will be speaking. You can only do this by speaking out loud. Ideally to a person who can listen to your pronunciation and help correct it. If you only have yourself, then you need to get in front of a mirror and speak the words you want to practice out loud to yourself.
You will make mistakes at first. Everyone does, forgive yourself and just jump in!