Come and See the World of Japanese Toastmasters! Kiichiro Omi DTM
If you speak Japanese as your mother tongue, then you might wonder why you would ever need to attend Japanese Toastmasters Club meetings. In fact, attending meetings in our mother tongue benefits everyone as is the case in English-speaking countries, where people attend Club meetings in English.
Let’s take a look at one aspect as an example; wording. Sugasugashii, Mizugiwadatu, Kokorodukushi, Omotenashi, Ayanasu, Taoyakana, Saewataru, Sokohakatonaku, Sukoyaka･･･. These are examples of "Word of the Day" introduced at the Japanese club regular meetings I participated in these several months. We can “sense” a lot of beautiful Japanese words. These are words of gems that the Japanese people have polished up in 1000 years or more. Just by being aware of wording in our mother tongue, the range of expression will be broadened and our speeches are enriched with vivid descriptions. In a second language, unless you are an expert, it may be hard to be aware of wording in such a way because often we tend to focus on grammar and looking up dictionaries.
By the way, did you know the Japanese word “ giron(議論, which means ‘discussion’)” was made by Yukichi Fukuzawa? The Japanese did not have the concept of making discussion until the Meiji era in the mid 19th century. Historically, the Japanese people are not very used to making discussions and public speaking compared to Westerners, and that may be one of the reasons the Japanese people still do not have much confidence in these areas in general. However, such an excuse cannot be justified in modern days. Negotiations, making presentations and persuading others are getting more and more important in our business and private life.
The number of members who join Japanese clubs aiming to improve their business communication and public speaking skills has increased rapidly, and I am sure that the number will keep increasing in the future. In particular, advanced manuals are greatly helpful in practicing hands-on business presentations, such as public relations, technical presentations and speeches by management. If you have the chance to make these types of presentations in Japanese at your job, why not practice them in Japanese at a Japanese Club meeting?
We have yet another advantage. When everything takes place in our mother tongue at a Club meeting, the speed of the skill improvement is much faster than second language. Let’s take a look at the case of Kanagawa Toastmasters Club. Its first demo meeting was held last October, and the Club was chartered in less than half a year. There are five speakers and evaluators almost every meeting, and the majority of current Club officers are non-dual members who joined Toastmasters only after Kanagawa Club was established.
The purpose of a Toastmasters Club, which is to provide positive environment to learn communication and leadership skills, holds true anywhere in any language. The necessity of Clubs in our mother tongue gets bigger and bigger when considering “what” to communicate, not “which language” to communicate. If you have never seen a Japanese regular meeting, please come and visit any Japanese or bilingual Clubs at your convenience; it will be a simply amazing experience!