As a child, I made a lot of mistakes learning English. I would like to share one of them.


The environment I was raised in was generous when it came to language speaking abilities. With the strict rules my mother had placed on the household, I grew up speaking both English and Japanese.


「遠足」via Junko


But what I did not really learn how to do was read and write English. Even though my mother would try hard to get me to study and even had a tutor give me lessons while I was visiting Oregon during the summers, nothing seemed to stick.


Unfortunately, learning English was not a concern for me at the time because I believed that I would spend my whole life in Japan. Who needed to know how to read and write English when I could communicate perfectly fine? The logic of a naive five year old would soon haunt me when I did move to America.

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「Oregon」via Junko


It wasn’t until I was nine that I regretted not paying more attention to my mother and my tutor. I was sent to the local public school, where I struggled to keep up with the kids around me. I was advanced in math, so the school decided to hold me back and use that time for an extra English lesson. I hated that.


Learning how to read was probably the most easy part of the whole ordeal. It was the spelling that really stumped me. English doesn’t make too much sense, and it just didn’t seem to follow logic at the time.


But the eagerness to hurry up and get English down so I could return to regular classes was much stronger than anything else, which meant that I just did not ask any questions and absorbed English as it was. While this worked well for me at the time, I now feel the consequences of not properly learning the grammar and spellings rules.


Anyways, that can be talked about in another post.

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「On The Corner」via Junko


I struggled learning English. That is something that I will admit fully. Especially with spelling. In fact, I still have a lot of trouble with spelling. I don’t think I would be able to spell “embarrassing” if it weren’t for spellcheck or autocorrect.


Looking back, the biggest struggle I experienced was the use of “e” and “i” and how I didn’t know which one was used when. In my mind, both “e” and “i” were the same, and the sounds they created were too similar.

例えば、一番はっきり覚えている間違えは、先生に週末何したかを文章にしてくれと聞かれた時です。私はお母さんとトランプゲームを6回もしたと書きたかったのです。でも私はこう書きました「I played sex games of cards with my mom」当時は「sex」の意味が分からなかったので、先生が直してくれても気付かなかったです。何でこの記憶がこんなに記憶に残っているのか分からないけど、「six」を「sex」と間違えていたのははっきり覚えています。

For example, the mistake I remember clearly was when I was asked to write about my weekend for my teacher. I wanted to tell her how I had played six games of cards with my mom. Instead, I wrote “I played sex games of cards with my mom.” At the time, I didn’t know what the word “sex” meant, so when my teacher corrected me, it didn’t really hit me. I’m not sure what caused the memory to stick in my mind, but I remember clearly constantly writing “six” as “sex” for a long time.


It wasn’t until the summer of 5th grade that I finally got somewhat of a grasp on the “e” “i” difference by thinking to myself that “e” is the same as “え” and “i” is “い” and having an older sister that has a name that starts in “e” helped significantly.


「List(e)n」via Junko


Well, that is an embarrassing confession.