32-year-old Kendal James has always been passionate about Japan. However, several attempts to learn Japanese failed until Pandemic suddenly made dreams come true and through unique contacts she was able to understand how to communicate clearly within a few months.
Bristol-born artist Kendal James fulfilled one of her biggest dreams during the pandemic and moved to Japan. There, she has finally been able to take on learning one of the world’s most difficult languages in just two months of active practicing.
It is no easy task to speak any language fluently.
In fact, Japanese characters and the language associated with them are a mystery to many people around the world. Still: The Japanese language is deeply rooted in its culture and incredibly exciting. The fascination around the culture of Japan therefore captivates millions of people worldwide. Kendal James’ interest also began at a young age. “I had already discovered my curiosity for Japan at the age of 10. Manga and anime came along at 13,” she tells in the interview. “Japanese/Learning a second language takes a lot of drive that I didn’t have that back then.”
As a teenager, she was already getting to grips with Japanese culture. With her then partner ), she networked at the Bristol Anime Club, where her curiosity intensified. “I was always more of a shy person, but through Bristol Anime Club I was able to thaw out a bit.” At 16, she decided to take an evening course, once a week at college, but nothing really clicked.”
At the end of a different relationship in her 20’s, the creative decided to not only visit Japan but to investigate a way to live there.
In October 2019, at the age of 30, the time had come. “When I packed my bags and came to Japan it wasn’t clear that I would make this country my home.” It is estimated that around 2 million expats live in Japan’s metropolises today. Highly qualified workers from Europe and America are particularly popular in Japan. Most travelers take advantage of their opportunity to teach English in Japan, thus combining profession and passion. “Although I was in Japan, it was not easy to stay motivated to learn Japanese. I needed a lot of self-discipline. When the pandemic started it was even worse.”
With the start of the pandemic in February 2020, many Japanese people were also even more distant than usual. “Everyone was afraid of catching the disease, people were even more distant.
There was no thought of flying back. It was during that time that her visa was extended due to the pandemic,” Kendal James tells us.
“The Pandemic changed my life in so many ways. The visa extension, by chance, helped me find my way into an unexpected relationship with a Japanese boyfriend”.
Although Kendal’s partner Ryo was able to speak English well, the invitation to the New Year’s celebration with his Japanese family further pushed the young Englishwoman to finally acquire greater fluency in the language. “Even though I had been living in Japan for over a year, I still wasn’t able to hold a conversation in Japanese.
Which would be difficult for anyone.” Kendal, who also works as an English teacher, then came across the JLF (Japanese Language Factory), a language school run by the multilingual Terumi Kai, on the internet. The JLF seeks to unify Japanese culture and language through an entirely new approach, and is guaranteed to give people the skills to speak fluently within 2 months.
After conversations with acquaintances who had made huge progress in their own lives through online courses, I decided that it was the right thing for me. I really wanted to surprise my boyfriend, my friends and myself”, Kendal James proudly lets us know “…and indeed: already in the first few weeks I was able to memorise the basic language structure on which I could build in the future. Within a few months, I was already able to speak Japanese in such a way that my self-confidence rose and Japanese friends even told me, how good my pronunciation was.”
In an interview with the founder Terumi Kai, she explains her secret behind the language school and emphasises the necessary combination of authenticity and humanity: “Language opens doors, and that has always been my goal. For me, a student is simply a friend, a partner, a person I am allowed to accompany on his or her journey towards self. We don’t really have lessons, but we exchange ideas, learn about each other on as clear and accessible a level as possible. Those who are able to speak Japanese are also able to join groups more easily and enter new circles. Kendal was one of my best students and is now a good friend”.
In fact, the young Englishwoman now not only speaks Japanese successfully, but is already in her 3rd year living in Shiga Prefecture, in Japan. As an artist, she directs her own exhibitions, but also plans and organizes exhibitions for others, develops creative concepts, acts as a freelancer in the marketing sector and offers guided tours for tourists. Whereas once the conversations with her partner were largely in English, today she confidently communicates with her partner, friends and strangers in Japanese. “The important thing is that I do it for myself. Japanese was my reward for persevering to turn my fascination and enthusiasm for this culture into an opportunity, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me” she is proud to say.
About Kendal James
MissKendalJames(Kendal’s Youtube channel)
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