Author: Leo

My Language Story: Koto

Languages: Japanese (native), English (fluent), Italian (fluent)
Member Since: August 2018
Job: Advertising creative

1. My language story


I started to study English just for school exams. But in my childhood in a rural island, I could get familiar with foreign culture from music and my mother’s Canadian friend. When I was a high school student, I was interested in Italy by reading a book by Nanami Shiono, a famous writer who lives in Italy. That’s why I decided to study Italian at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.


During my campus life, I studied Italian language, literature, culture, and linguistics. For a school festival, I produced a theatre piece in Italian with my classmates which is our school’s tradition. With an exchange program, I went to Naples for one year where I made friends with friendly Italian people. At that time Naples was famous for being a dangerous city and I put on make-up like Sadako of “Ring” for going out in the night. I addressed a speech about this episode at an Italian speech contest, and eventually, I won the first prize. When I started job hunting in Japan, I found that if I tried to work using my Italian knowledge, I could not work in the field I was interested in. Since then I have rarely used Italian except with my Italian friends or in language meet-ups.


After I started to work in a creative division of an advertising agency, I gave up English because my work had nothing to do with English. But one day I googled advertising information in English. I was hooked to a lot of inspiring case studies outside of Japan. With my teammates, I started to enter our works in foreign advertising awards and it worked very well. In 2018, I went to study digital creative in a Swedish design company for 5 months. I loved that experience so much. For doing more international work, I studied TOEIC seriously for the first time in my life and I got 980 points.

2. Why I love learning languages

Language opens my eyes to the world outside of Japan and gives me a hint of living a better life. For example, there are feminists or LGBTQ people who respect themselves and who fight for their rights in positive ways. Thanks to language study, I am encouraged by their ways of self-affirmation and self-expression in their articles, movie, and podcasts.

3. My language learning tip

Do something you love in foreign languages. My favorite language listening materials are mainly reality shows of Netflix and foreign gourmet YouTubers. I am not good at reading. But when I tried the “perusal reading” method, in which I read the same sentences over and over until when I have no grammar and vocabulary that I don’t understand, my reading ability highly improved.

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