My first American Barbecue “Dinosaur Barbecue”

I went to an American Barbecue restaurant in Harlem last Thursday.  The restaurant name was “Dinosaur Barbecue

It’s a completely American place.  I thought this place looked like a traditional American movie.  I was the only Asian person in the restaurant; other customers were white and black Americans.  I could understand the reason why there were filled with only American, because the dishes were completely American ones.  I didn’t know almost all their names.

You should have a guide to introduce you to American culture.  If you don’t know any good guide, you can’t go this kind of place by yourself.  I went there with my American friend, so I could enjoy their dishes fully.

There are uncountable restaurants in New York City, you can enjoy many countries cuisines.  In spite of this variety, it seems difficult to visit unknown cuisine restaurants because you don’t know them.  You need to have a good guide to enjoy them.  Your friends who are from different cultures may help you.


Like iPhone’s applications

I have four-language exchange partners now.  All of them re Native English speakers, but three of them aren’t American.  One is a Canadian, another is a Singaporean, and the last person is a person with dual nationality, Hong Kong and the U.S.  Since I came here, I’ve met many immigrants.  I’m thinking what factors are attracting immigrants from all over the world.

Now, I think that the U.S. is like an iPhone of an iPod touch, and immigrants are like iPhone’s applications.  While a platform is always same on an iPhone, applications are always changeling.  An iPhone can continue to stay good because of this application’s improvement.  The coutry like the U.S. is equivalent to a platform in this thinking, and immigrants are applications.  The United States good because many immigrants always come to the U.S. ; the nationality of immigrants changes each time.

On the other hand, Japan doesn’t accept immigrants eagerly now. Almost twenty years ago, Japan was much better.  Japan hasn’t changed their demographic of workforce well to adjust to the changing world economy.  I think that the reason why Japan was good was just that they were lucky.  My theory is that Japan’s economy was suitable for the world economy from after Worl War Two to twenty years ago. Now, Japan isn’t suitable for the world economy.  Japanese people need to change themselves to keep up with the world economy.  While the U.S is always changing, Japan isn’t.  I’m thinking how Japan will change in the future.

Momofuku Ramen in New York City : Japanese Ramen culture has took hold in the U.S.

I went to a Ramen restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar last Wednesday.  American people run the restaurant, so it seemed different from Japanese ramen restaurants.  The atmosphere was stylish, and women who worked there were very cute.  Ramen restaurants are usually cheap and reasonable places in Japan, but they are unusual and expensive places in the U.S.

The taste of Ramen was soy-source based; it was good.  Though American chef cooked it, the ramen tasted the same as the ones in Japan.  There were also soft-boiled egg and dried seaweed, I was wondering whether they were acceptable for American people.

The price was…around 20 bucks for one ramen.  Can you believe it?  One ramen costs around 20 dollars in New York City.  Japanese cuisine is unusual in the U.S, so it’s expensive.  I know it.

I saw two Americans eating noodles with ketchup, I’ve never seen anyone who adds ketchup to noodles in Japan, I also found there were ketchup bottles on every table.  Americans tried to use chopsticks, I noticed half of them couldn’t use it well.  I thought that Japanese Ramen culture has took hold in the U.S.

Misunderstanding about learning English

My biggest misunderstanding about the TOEIC is that a 900+ score was not so difficult.  I thought very few people could achieve 900+; people who grew up in the U.S. or went to an American college could achieve this score.  I realize it’s completely wrong.

What I thought in the past is that if I achieve 900+, I can speak very fluently, I can understand any English, I can write good compositions, I can read difficult English books, and so on.  I can’t do these things well now…

I didn’t have a single notion of ESL, English as second language.  Usually, you can’t be a Native English Speaker no matter how hard you study English.  Few people can be perfectly bilingual, who come to the U.S. in their childhood or are 2nd generation immigrants, and so on.

These are my misunderstandings about learning English, which I had in the past.  I should have known it.

Studying not only language but also people

Though I focus on studying “English conversations” now, I would like to study how to write good English.  I live in NYC, so I should focus on conventional English because it’s hard to study it in Japan.

Conversational English includes understanding American people.  Everytime I meet them, I learn new things about them.  I learn American people’s way of thinking through their behavior. I’m learning not only English but also about the U.S.  I think that studying English with a text book is not enough: you need to know about people who speak English and the countries they live in. So, I focus on “Conversational English” to improve my English and to gain knowledge about them.

I can read English books in Japan.  I’ll improve my reading and writing skills in Japan.  It’s hard to see native English speakers in my home town which is located in the country side.  I think what I wrote in this article is an advantage of studying abroad.

Why do you always use big, fancy words?

I have been learning English with many books. Because of them, my English has become good enough to communicate with Native English speakers.  While I can communicate well in English, I still have some problems about language usage.  I’ve learned English with books, so my English seems more polite or formal than Americans.

English textbooks in Japan are usually very formal, I think we don’t always learn present-day English; we sometimes learn your grandparents’ English.  I remember some Japanese people eagerly discussing this sort of old, grandparent English.  I’ve never used it and never heard it in America.  Ironically, the people who discussed Grand-parents English couldn’t use easy and normal English well.  This isn’t unusual in Japan.  I think many Japanese people regard English as something to study.  So, they don’t use English in their life;  they only study English, that’s it!

I would strongly recommend you to use English as a tool.  With this tool, you can communicate with non-Japanese people.  Besides English teachers, have you ever talked with a person from another country in English?  Because of the internet, you can find foreign friends or learning partners easily only if you have a will.

Put your books back on the shelf, and close your laptop

Learning through books or websites is inexpensive and easy, which is good for learners, but they lack some valuable information.  For example, movies are cheap and you can watch them easily, but you can’t feel the energy of the actors, or smell the stage, and so on.  Before coming to the U.S., I had read many books about the U.S., but it wasn’t enough; I only knew small parts of the U.S. through books. Now, I would like to insist to learners. “Put your books back on the shelf, and close your laptop”.  I think you should experience what you learn through books or websites, and then you will learn unknown and invaluable things.