For everyone who wants to be able to speak English. WOVN members who have no experience living or studying abroad share their study methods
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For everyone who wants to be able to speak English. WOVN members who have no experience living or studying abroad share their study methods

WOVN MAGAZINE en

Hello! I'm Yuka from the HR team.

This question may be pretty out of the blue, but can you speak English?
At WOVN, around 40% of our members come from foreign countries, and about 80% of our engineers are from abroad, so quite a few people here can speak English.

Many may think that Japanese people who can speak English are people who have lived or studied abroad.
Yes, I envy people who have been abroad as a child or a student...but we would still like to become able to speak English even after we become adults, right?

So this time, we asked three Japanese members from the Engineering team how they learned to speak English! They have never lived or studied abroad but are using English in most of their daily meetings and conversations.

Hiroshi: Studied in a variety of ways to understand internal meetings

Have you always been good at English?
No, not at all.
I knew it would be better for me to study English, so I would start studying but couldn’t stick to it.

Tell us what made you want to study
I could only understand about 5% of the first meeting I had at WOVN. I thought I was in trouble.
My daily meetings are a great way to keep me motivated since I find it challenging to stay interested in something.

How did you actually study? (E.g., period, time, method)
I tried many methods. DMM Eikaiwa (total 50 minutes; 2 times a day, 25 minutes each), Study Sapuri English, ELSA (pronunciation improvement app), iKnow! (vocabulary), and studying for TOEIC tests. I recommend all of them, but personally, Study Sapuri English was the best!
I studied for about two hours every day after work right after I joined WOVN. Now I listen to ELSA for about 10 minutes, watch YouTube and listen to podcasts in English for about 20 minutes.
WOVN has a program to support those who want to study English, and I was able to receive a subsidy of up to 10,000 yen per month, which I really appreciated.

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Hiroshi’s recommended podcast.
This podcast is energetic and easy to understand💃
Audio materials are easy to work on even if you are busy.

Through the above studies, what are you able to do now?
I can now understand what others are saying and communicate my thoughts in English.
Meanwhile, there are still areas for improvement, so I feel that there is no end to learning.

Do you have any advice on learning English?
I think it's a good idea to review if your purpose and learning method are aligned.
In my case, my goal was to have business conversations with my colleagues, so I found that talking a lot with my colleagues in real life helped me reach my goal faster than taking daily online lessons or studying for exams.

★ Yuka's comment
Of all the people I interviewed this time, Hiroshi tried the most methods. I think Hiroshi's way of studying will be easy to follow if you're the type of person who wants to try doing a little bit of everything. When you're working hard, it's easy to forget the importance of checking whether your goals and learning methods are in line with each other. It’s important to review this regularly as well.

Taiga: Studied with discipline to improve competitiveness as an engineer

Have you always been good at English?
I started studying English when I was 28 years old, but my English level had been about average for a Japanese person until then. I could read simple sentences but couldn’t understand conversations or speak the language. The primary reason was that I didn't have the opportunity to stay abroad, so I never needed to use English.

Tell us what made you want to study
In recent years, the importance of software has been recognized in Japan, with the launch of the Digital Agency and Toyota Motor Corporation hiring a large number of software engineers. However, until just a few years ago, Japan lacked a competitive edge, and no one outside of the industry understood this fact. As an engineer, I was concerned about the current situation in Japan, and I felt I needed to catch up with the information from English-speaking countries and prepare myself to work in an international environment.

How did you actually study? (E.g., period, time, method)
I have been studying English for about two and a half years now. At first, I think I studied for about four hours on weekdays and 12 hours on my days off. First, I concentrated on studying vocabulary and grammar and then gradually shifted my focus to listening and speaking. I got a TOEIC score of 880 and passed Eiken Grade 1. I think it's easier to keep yourself motivated with clear goals, even if you're just studying in a classroom.
I studied almost everything in classroom programs, except for the online English lessons. I felt that learning with apps was not as effective as with books, so I studied my books over and over until I could use the vocabulary and grammar without even having to think about it.
Almost all of my work is done in English now, so I don't need to spend much time doing reading or listening exercises. Compared to before, I haven’t been studying that much recently.

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The English composition textbook Taiga used for his Eiken Grade 1 studies.📚
Look closely at the comments in red ink, and you’ll find that he has written not only the meaning of words and vocabulary,
but error-prone points and related things.

Through the above studies, what are you able to do now?
I feel the barriers to accessing English information have dropped when checking technical articles, which in turn is making me more competitive as an engineer.
Also, using English in my daily work has made me mentally stronger. I can’t stay down every time I misunderstand something or make mistakes with expressions that I would never struggle with in my native language.

Do you have any advice on learning English?
Information is all over the place, so try to choose the right information and keep it up in a way that suits you best.

★ Yuka's comment
Taiga is known in WOVN as a very disciplined person, and his way of studying was amazingly disciplined as well!
He studied English to communicate and gather information from English-speaking countries, where the volume of technical information is much larger than in Japanese. This may be a trigger or motivation for those who do not use English at work.

Masahiro: Keeping it simple - he studied to have better access to technology

Have you always been good at English?
No, I was not really good at English. In fact, I wasn't interested in foreign cultures, probably because I didn't have many opportunities to get to know about them.

Tell us what made you want to study
I started to study because I got involved in developing OSS (Open Source Software) as a programmer.
Simply put, OSS is software with source code that is open to the public and is allowed to be modified, extended, and redistributed. The closed software that we usually develop at work, such as WOVN.io, is also developed using many kinds of OSS. Programmers from all over the world join in freely to improve various OSS on a daily basis, but most of the communication is done in English, so I often had a hard time because I wasn’t good at it.

How did you actually study? (E.g., period, time, method)
First, I started to study for the TOEIC test. I spent two months shadowing the listening exercises in the official TOEIC test workbook for two hours every day. I remember that I started to understand English more and more after I began to score over 800.
Since then, I’ve been taking speaking-focused English lessons online at my own pace.

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The problem book Masahiro used for his speech shadowing📚
I found out that everyone I interviewed this time had used this workbook!
It seems that question books can be used for more than just solving problems...

Through the above studies, what are you able to do now?
We mainly use English in the development team at WOVN, and I definitely am doing better than before!
In this sort of environment, I can practice what I’ve studied at work the next day. I think it is a great environment for English learners.

Do you have any advice on learning English?
Start by spending just 10 minutes a day!

★ Yuka's comment
Masahiro felt he needed to learn English because he struggled when gathering information on technology, which I think is a typical trigger for an engineer.
Among the three people I introduced this time, Masahiro's way of studying was the simplest one. Shadowing is highly recommended by those who have gone through learning English on their own, so if you're wondering what to start with, shadowing seems like an excellent way to kick it off!

Summary

This time, I introduced and gave names to three different ways to study English.

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That's it for this article.
I hope this article has helped everyone who wants to learn English. Try to find your own way of studying that suits your goal!

And if you want to work as an engineer in an English-speaking environment, or if you're not an engineer but are curious about the atmosphere here at WOVN, we’re searching for new members interested in working with us!
Click here to find out about our open positions.

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