I enter the Japanese-English meetup and am assigned to a group.

For the first part of the meetup, we speak in English. Then, forty to forty-five minutes later, the host tells us to switch languages.

Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we just keep speaking English. No one objects. For some, Japanese is a scary language, and for others, they appreciate getting more English practice.

Sometimes we do. Then the fluency stream takes over. Either you are swimming in the stream, or swimming as hard as you can so you don’t drown. The native speakers and the people who are almost fluent dominate. Sometimes I get a word in. Sometimes I just sit there and tell myself, “Listening to Japanese is also great practice. Remember what those AJATT guys say. It’s great.”

Then the host will come in and assign us to a new table. Or, nowadays, click a button and put us into a new Zoom room. And it all starts over again.

Finally it ends, and I ask myself, “Will my listening and conversation skills ever go up? I was so bad. Why am I doing this?”

And then I will go to Meetup.com and click on the next invite to the Japanese-English Language Meetup.

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