Meet Norman, Japanese Language Student at Bridge

Like many of our foreign language students at BridgeLanguages, Norman, who is studying Japanese at our downtown center, has a specific goal in mind. He shared with us about his motivation for learning the language in relation to his family heritage and about the other benefits he gets from the challenge of learning (or in his case, re-learning) a new language.

What made you want to study Japanese?

As I was born and grew up in Niigata, Japan for the first 8 years of my life, Japanese was my first language. Our family moved to southern California for multiple reasons in 1958, when I was 8 years old.

Both my father and mother were born in the United States and moved to Japan before WWII. They met in Japan and married there in 1947. My Japanese language skills were slowly lost because of my need to learn and use the English language. Now that I am retired, I want to re-learn the Japanese language mainly to be able to speak when I return to visit relatives and tour the country.

What are your learning goals? What would you like to achieve?

I would like to be somewhat fluent in Japanese by the time I make my first visit back to Japan this coming January. I want to continue to learn the Japanese language for the sake of learning. This will likely be a lifelong endeavor. I feel that it is good to keep my mind stimulated.

Does learning a new language relate to your profession in any way?

I was a practicing physician specializing in infectious diseases in the northwest part Denver area for 31 years. I trained at both University of Southern California (USC) and University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). I retired 4 years ago, so, learning Japanese is purely for fun and mind stimulation.

Describe the classroom environment. What are some of your favorite activities?

I am taking private lessons so it is one-on-one learning in the classroom. This has worked out quite well for me because my wife and I do quite a bit of traveling. I am able to schedule class when we are in town, usually twice a week for one-and-a-half-hour lesson. Learning is mainly guided by the textbook. There is an appropriate mixture of reading, writing and speaking.

Basically, I enjoy all aspects of one-on-one learning no matter what the subject matter or exercise. Although still difficult, I enjoy being challenged to speak correctly.

What is your biggest challenge in learning a new language?

Although Japanese was my first language, I am really learning a new language since I forgot most of what I knew over the last 60 years that I have been in the United States. My biggest challenge is using proper grammatical structure in writing and conversation.

For you, what is the biggest advantage in learning a new language?

The biggest advantage in learning a new language is the ability to communicate better when visiting the country where the language is spoken. I believe that I will get a richer experience when I am able to speak the language of the country that I am visiting.   

What’s your foreign language goal? We’ll help you overcome common excuses and start learning a new language, such as Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish, French, or Arabic at our convenient Bridge language center in downtown Denver.

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