In the first of JapaneseLondon.com’s ‘People in Japanese London’ profiles (from now they’ll be posted regularly), we hear from the amazing Awurabena Kessie.
Awurabena Kessie is a language expert who runs the popular ‘The Language Exchange’ events once a month in a bright and comfortable room that’s just next to Farringdon station.
The conversation events are for people who want to practise conversation exchange in English and Japanese – with a special twist!
Upcoming Event Dates: September 26th, October 24th, November 21st, December 12th – check website for more details, and watch a video of the event here.
1. What do you do, and why?
The Language Exchange is an event made up of one-to-one language exchanges with up to 6 different partners. Everyone spends 8 minutes talking with a partner in English, then 8 minutes in Japanese, before moving on to the next person.
After meeting up with a language exchange partner for over a year, I noticed that after a while we got used to each other’s way of speaking. I thought that it would be good to have a place where you could talk to lots of different people.
I had also noticed that during group language exchanges, one language would usually dominate (in my case we would always end up speaking English) so I wanted to make sure that equal amounts of time would be spent speaking both languages.
I decided to create an event where people could practice speaking with lots of different people in a relaxed atmosphere for equal amounts of time.
2. Why should people come?
The main benefit is that you get to speak one-to-one to lots of different people. This gives attendees the chance to listen to different accents, expressions and interact with new people which I believe increases their confidence in talking to native speakers. We also have little nibbles and drinks. It’s a fun, sociable evening with the added bonus of speaking Japanese and English 🙂
It’s also suitable for any level of learner of Japanese or English, as beginners can have a lesson and write down some new words and phrases. A list of questions in English and Japanese is provided on the table, so you’ll never be stuck for what to say next1
3. What are your top tips for language learners?
You must speak! I think we all get worried about our accents, pronunciation, making grammar mistakes, or are just shy, but it’s best to just have a go at speaking and not worry too much about all these things. The more you talk the more fluent you become.
Listen to the language you are learning as much as possible even if you don’t understand – when I first moved to Japan I didn’t speak any Japanese but I always had the TV on in the background. At first I couldn’t make out a word but just listening helped me to tune into the ‘rhythm’ of the language which helped me to eventually pick up words and phrases. Watching films, drama or anime in Japanese with subtitles or vice versa also helps.
Find ways to practice writing the language you are learning – you can try to write notes to yourself in Japanese or English, keep a diary or write what you though about a film you watched, etc. You could even start a blog in Japanese or English!
4. What’s your favourite Japanese thing in London?
I love Japanese food and am always happy to find good, authentic Japanese restaurants and delis in London. My current favourite is a deli called Yoyo Kitchen which is just opposite West Acton station in West London. They have a great selection of delicious food and friendly staff. I can’t go past it without at least getting a few onigiris to go!
If you love Japan, and live in London, and would like to be featured in JapaneseLondon.com’s ‘People in Japanese London’ profiles, contact us!