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27 May 2018 @ 09:36 pm
[trans] Yamapi on studying English  
Yamashita Tomohisa can interview a Hollywood actress in English, the reason for that much improvement

Yamashita Tomohisa-san, for several years already have self-studied English until he could interview a Hollywood actress in English. In the article from “AERA English 2018 Spring & Summer,” he talked about the reason for the strength he puts in English study and what was his unique way of studying.


There’s probably a lot of people who don’t know but Yamashita Tomohisa-san is proficient in English.

The person himself is humble though saying “No, no, not at all.” but 2014~2015, in the late-night variety show, “Adult’s Kiss English [Otona no Kiss Eigo],” (FujiTV) Yamashita-san’s smooth English surprised a lot of people. What’s particularly impressive was when Angelina Jolie came to Japan, he interviewed her in English.

“I was extremely nervous. Her eyes were firm and strong in conveying emotion (laughs). But, she was totally a great person. She steadily picked up my English and I was moved.”

Yamashita-san thought about seriously studying English about as much as 5-6 years ago. At that time, there were a lot of opportunities to go abroad because of work, cultural exchange with local actors and staff also increased.

“After work, I go drinking, when it’s work at Los Angeles, we go play at Universal Studios. Even if I couldn’t speak English, even with just the tone of voice, facial expression, and simple words, I was able to communicate. But I didn’t understand conversation contents, I couldn’t convey my own thoughts. My companion is worried and all but thinking I couldn’t console myself, I thought I wanted to be able to speak English properly.”

Because of that, whenever he goes abroad, he thinks “Let’s study English.” However, whenever he goes back to Japan, it always becomes “Well, is that good.”

“When you speak of English improvement, you have to come into terms whether you are able or not able to maintain that motivation. This time because I was serious, I came up with a resolution for myself to make room where I can use English!”

The key to creating circumstances to speak English

Yamashita-san has relied on friends who are native speakers residing in Japan. He’s decided on mailing conversations with them entirely in English.

“Studying textbooks is also important but when I couldn’t relate to the situations coming out, I don’t understand and thus I couldn’t remember. But in conversations with friends, there’s this sincerity I want to convey like ‘I want to eat this’ or ‘There’s something interesting today’ etc. I myself think about what expression for that, I learn from friends, being able to say phrases, that’s how I do it. It’s because I really want to be able to convey words.”

Since there are native speakers at the work place and in schools, Yamashita-san recommends to progressively get close to them. “The best is to create a situation where you need to speak. Even without native friends, talk with teachers at English conversation schools, mail entirely in English with friends who’ve also learned the language, I think that’s really effective.”

Of course, he also studied text books. Yamashita-san’s way of studying is unique. He buys two volumes of the same book, one copy he carries around so when he’s travelling, he opens it for sure. And then the other copy is left open on the table at home.

“Whenever I get home tired, even opening a textbook quite uses energy. That’s why, I leave open the page that I thought I will do for the day. With just that, even a little, I’ve put down a studying hurdle.”

Hardships were words and the fluency in putting together words that still has that characteristic English pronunciation. And for that, songs were helpful.

“For example, it’s hard to understand what is being said in rap. That’s why I search for the lyrics in the internet, ‘If this word and this word is put together, this becomes the pronounciation!’ that’s how I confirm one by one. So besides from speaking English, I think it really becomes a good training. I recommend it.”

Continue thinking English is fun!

Because you continue thinking you seriously want to speak and comprehend English, you are able to create a unique way of studying. However, its the humility of the person himself will lead to that.

“I’m clumsy you know. Because I’m not the type who has good intuition and able to go on, I can only accumulate.”

Even if his hobbies are guitar and surfing, at the onset he was bad at it. Even so, when continuing without giving up, there came a time that he’s naturally able to gain control of the cord, and he’s able to stand straight on the waves.

“It’s the same with English. When you are able to continue, the moment you can say ‘Oh, I can speak! I can understand!’ will surely come. Because having fun is the precedence, you’ll be able to continue doing your best. Also, in being able to continue, you’re able to make circumstances. That is important.”

Gradually, he was able to make use of his command on English in his work. Not just in ‘Kiss English’ but it was also useful in China at the movie filming location.

“Since there was no interpreter, the entire exchange with the director and staff was in English. News coverage on site was basically also in English. I think if I wasn’t able to use English, I wouldn’t be able to be in a good position in that place. Being able to speak in English as an actor expands the world you live in.”

If it’s the last day to live, what will you do?

Asking if he has an English expression that he likes, he thought for a while and told us this…

“If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.”

“It’s an expression I came across when I read Steve Jobs’ speech. If I am able to live this way, I thought it’ll be great.”

If tomorrow is your last day to live, what will you do? What surfaces in Yamashita-san’s heart is an image of him overseas.

“In an overseas beach I’ve never been to, talking to a local, smething like that.”

For Yamashita-san, conversing with people in English is a very important thing.

“What do I like myself, what makes me happy, what do I think is great, what is the value in it, I want to probe into that a bit more.”

That is the sense of values being cultivated that until now is being re-examined.

“When you live in Japan, it’s easy to have that sense of value like‘If I am able to earn money for a good living, it’s happiness.’ but when I talked to foreigners, even without money, there’s a lot of people who seem happy having deep connection with others. When you are able to speak English, you are able to be aware of their thoughts and culture, without even putting much thought about it. Conversely, you also recognize the good points of Japan. I think the significance in learning English is in that.”

For this reason, he wants to go unknown regions, do more travels, do work overseas. For Yamashita-san, an indispensable partner to rely on that widens his dream is English. “When you start speaking, it will make you realize it’s good to stick to being more comfortable in English. Asking overseas ‘Can you speak Japanese?’ an imperfect ‘I can speak’ answer from people who can speak Japanese is a lot. But, the words they know are ‘ninja,’ ‘sushi,’ (laughs). I thought, what?? but even so being able to speak to me, I’m happy. It’s not too comparable though to how much Japanese people knows plenty of English words. In just lining up words, there is conveyance, your partner will be happy. It’s because you spoke in English.”


*Amateur translation. Please feel free to point out if there is any mistake, thank you. I study nearly the same way as Yamapi XD (except buying 2 books lol)
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Иркинс, просто Иркинсximera on June 5th, 2018 08:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you!!! Thank you so much!
Verónika Kozlovaveronikakoz on February 8th, 2019 09:22 pm (UTC)
hello again
I am still reading, is pretty good. Seems like is your own way of study English (or just improve them). But there is something that is not really correct, when them ending with "I was moved." it seems to be better saying "I was touched", Don't you think?