Ep. 29 | Natch’s Japanese Language Mishap – Are we nearly there yet?

When learning a new skill are you ready to be corrected? To laugh off your mistakes and keep trying? When making friends in a foreign country one of the biggest hurdles can be language. Even with hours of practice it can sometimes feel impossible. In this episode we hear from Natch about a time he accidentally ended up being rather rude to new friends he was sharing a long journey with.

If you’ve got any comments and questions do get in touch we’d love to hear from you

This transcript has been lightly edited to make it easier to read.

 

Chris Watts

Welcome to the Serve Asia Podcast, where we have conversations about sharing the good news of Jesus with East Asians across the street and across the world. Today we’re continuing our language mishap series, where we’re talking to OMF workers about times when speaking a second language hasn’t quite gone to plan. Joining us today on the Serve Asia Podcast is Natch Ayling, Natch how are you doing today?

 

Natch Ayling

Great thank you. How are you doing?

 

Chris Watts

Yeah, had a good morning thanks. Thanks for joining us, by way of brief introduction. I just wonder if you’d let us know where are you joining us from today? And what’s going on around you at the moment?

 

Natch Ayling

Okay, so I’m calling from sunny Swansea in Wales, and my wife, Anna is doing some homeschooling with our four kids and they’re hanging out with the cat and the dog, and the tortoise, and the budgie and probably a few other creatures as well.

 

Chris Watts

It’s almost a zoo at your place! It’s great.

 

Natch Ayling

Never a dull moment.

 

Chris Watts

Thanks for being on the show again, it’s good to hear from you. I believe this story that you have to share with us today takes place quite a distance from Wales. So it’d be great if you could tell us where you were, what you were doing, and what language mishap took place for you?

 

Natch Ayling

Yes, so my wife and I, we were serving with OMF Japan. And we had done two years of language school. And we had graduated, we’d got the graduation certificate. And supposedly, we were able to speak Japanese. And then we moved to another part of the city. And we were in a training placement in a Japanese church, and soon realised that our language ability was not quite as good as we had thought it was. On one occasion, I was going to a conference for some Japanese pastors, and I was driving in a van. The van was full of missionaries and pastors, and I wanted to check if anyone needed to stop for a comfort break. And someone said, “Oh, I think I’ll be okay.” And what I meant to say was, ‘Are you going to be able to hold on, are you able to wait’, which in Japanese is “待てられる (materareru)” But what actually came out was “黙られる (damarareru)”, which means ‘Can you shut up?’ The laughter in the van was the clue that I had said something wrong. And they explained to me very graciously what I had just said. So yeah, we all had a good laugh about that.

 

Chris Watts

Oh good. Well, I’m glad that everyone could laugh. Because I know sometimes Japanese culture is perhaps quite reserved and could have gone quite badly in that moment to say to a, perhaps a senior and a pastor to could you shut up, please?

 

Natch Ayling

Well, there wasn’t even a please. It was just ‘Can you shut up.’ But thankfully, they weren’t much older than me, though. They were peers. They were young pastors. So that helped, I think.

 

Chris Watts

What did this experience teach you? You said that, I guess, perhaps you realised maybe your Japanese wasn’t as good as maybe you thought it was? Did you learn anything else from this experience?

 

Natch Ayling

One thing I learnt was to be able to laugh at myself. I think it’s good to have particularly in Japan, it’s good to have friendships, relationships with people who feel able to correct you. A lot of Japanese people, they wouldn’t want to upset you. So they just wouldn’t bother correcting you out of politeness. But if you’re not corrected, you’re not going to learn. So it’s good to sort of gather people around and and also to invite correction, and to have an attitude of wanting to learn. Which is not that difficult when you know you’re speaking like a two year old, you’ve done two years of learning the language. So you keep making mistakes. So there’s plenty of opportunity to laugh at yourself and to keep learning so yeah.

 

Chris Watts

Thanks Natch. It’s a really good story. Thanks for being willing, I guess to relive it and to laugh at yourself once more. But yeah I think that’s a great idea to surround yourself with people who are willing to, you know, in a spirit of generosity to encourage and to let you know you’re getting things wrong so that you can learn and grow. Probably going to help along the way to be ready to laugh at yourself.

 

Natch Ayling

Yeah, it’s better than crying. I’d tell you that. Yeah. It’s fun.

 

Chris Watts

Great. Well thanks so much for sharing that story with us. If you want to know more about Natch, then go back a few episodes and check out the pathways series that Natch is a big part of with the rest of the Serve Asia team. Head back a few episodes and hear a little bit more about him, including some wild hairstyles, I believe are revealed in those episodes. Great thanks Natch. I hope you have a good day with your menagerie of animals.

 

Natch Ayling

You too Chris, thanks very much.

 

Chris Watts

Great thanks for joining us. We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of the Serve Asia Podcast. If you’ve got an amusing story of miscommunication, we’d love to hear it. So why not get in touch? We’re on Instagram @ServeAsiaPodcast or send us an email to uk.podcast@omfmail.com check out the show notes for more details. And we hope you join us for the next episode. Goodbye.

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