[Easy English Blog] Reading in my native language

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I love reading. Now I read books in English and Japanese. However, about ten years ago, I went through a spell (a spell = a period of time) of only reading Japanese. I wanted to improve my Japanese, so I only read Japanese novels or non-fiction books. I have been a translator for 14 years, so at that time, I was translating. I read Japanese every day at work, and then I read Japanese every night after work.

I translate from Japanese into English, so it is important for me to understand Japanese well. However, it is also important for me to write English well. When I went through the spell of reading only Japanese books, I noticed that my written English was not as good as it used to be. It didn’t seem natural. Also, when I was teaching, students would ask me questions, such as “How do you say XXX in natural English?” Sometimes, it was difficult for me to answer.

I wondered why. Perhaps my brain got used to Japanese phrasing and expression because I was reading so much. Then, I realised something important. I had to maintain my native language too. In English there is a saying – “If you don’t use it, you lose it”. I felt I was losing my English.

So, I decided to start reading again in English. Now, I read more English books than Japanese books. I need to maintain a high level of English for my work. I teach, translate and write in English. So, even though English is my native language, reading English books is a kind of study for me. I still read Japanese books, but not so many. Actually, I would like to read more. Next year, I’m going to try to balance my reading so I read an equal number of Japanese and English books. It’s important to maintain both skills.