Speaking in English with the Japanese
On some occasions, if you are a beginning Japanese speaker there will be times when you will have to try to communicate in English. Many Japanese are reluctant to speak English for fear they may say something to offend you, or they are afraid to speak a language they have not mastered. Many times, after hearing you butcher Japanese, they will admit to speaking some English. Here are some tips to communicating with the Japanese in English:
- Be polite and always put a smile on your face.
- Don't worry about being grammatically correct. By using one-word questions or short phrases, you will get your point across. It's amazing what you can do with just a few basic phrases and a vocabulary of 50 words.
- When asking for information, choose Japanese of university age or thereabouts, as they are most likely to speak some English. Also, Japanese women tend to speak and understand English better than Japanese men. (Or at least they're more willing to speak English.)
- Speak slowly, clearly and with carefully chosen words. Choose easy words with no contractions and clearly pronounce each letter. Talk like a Dick and Jane primer.
- Do not use slang.
- Keep your messages as simple as possible. Make single nouns work as an entire sentence. A one word question ("Photo?" while pointing to your camera) is more effective than being more grammatically correct. ("May I take your picture?").
- Use internationally understood words. The word 'Restroom' is an American term. The word 'Toilet' is direct, simple and understood around the world.