The woman who learned English in 6 months

The woman who learned English in 6 months

The following is based on an article in the Autumn 2012 edition of 通訳翻訳ジャーナル. The subject of the interview is a simultaneous interpreter named Yayoi Oguma, a woman who went from a TOEIC score of 280 to 805 in half a year. After three years, she was good enough to become a simultaneous interpreter. You can learn more about her on her website or check out one of her books. Below are some of the study tips which I have revised for Japanese learners. Bear in mind that she did each of these things every day.

  1. Take a cluster of 5-15 words concerning on a topic and make groups of 2-3 synonyms and 1 antonym. Review them every day before bed.
  2. Listen to 2-4 hours of Japanese a day. If you are going to listen to the news in Japanese, look up the Japanese news in English first so that you will understand the content. Then listen all in Japanese, looking up words as needed.
  3. Read translated articles, or articles in both languages about the same topic, out loud in both Japanese and English.
  4. When reading aloud, record yourself and review your pronunciation.
  5. Help grow your memory by reading and orally reproducing (not reciting but giving an overview of the content) one article a day.
  6. Get in the habit of translating whatever you are listening to in your head. Start practicing this for 5-10 minutes a day until you can do it for longer or do it automatically.
  7. Do 20 minutes of Shadowing (repeating the speaker’s words in their language a second behind them) a day. If that is too hard, start with 5 minutes a day. Record yourself and review your pronunciation and mistakes.
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