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Julian Northbrook

Why I learned Japanese

Why do you study English?

I learned Japanese for a very simple reason —


It was 2007. I’d been in Tokyo a few weeks. I was looking for a job in art. My wife’s friend introduced me to someone she knew.


Tom worked for Takashi Murakami.

Murakami is a HUGE name in art.

I wanted to know how Tom had gotten the job. and if I would be able to get a job too.

So I met him for lunch.

He had no experience in the art world. No art qualifications. He had never done any art. Never shown his work in exhibitions.

He just applied for the job.

And got it.

But the thing is —

There WAS something he had.

He could speak, read and write Japanese. At a very high level.

Lots of people learn Japanese. But very, very few bother to get REALLY good at it.

I went home feeling bad about myself. I had art skills. I’d spent years studying art. I got good grades at university. I’d even shown my work in international art exhibitions. But it was all meaningless.

Without Japanese?

I was nothing.

I’m ashamed to admit it now, but I HATED Tom.

He had everything I wanted.

I was angry. I thought I was better for the job than him.

But the doors were closed to me.

Because of language.

I had, to quote this week’s EES Lesson and my good mate William, become a “green-eyed monster”.

Whether you like it or not, language opens doors.

For you, that means English.

Not just English.

But good communication skills in English. In the end, the person who speaks the best wins. This is the same everywhere.

In interviews. Presentations. Speeches. Sales. Love. Sex.

Every part of your life.

But here’s one thing I’ll tell you right here, right now: The people who are super-successful with English?

They all have one thing in common: an extremely strong WHY.

Why is why (pun intended) I dedicate a whole chapter to this topic in my book, Master English FAST. People who are clear–and honest–about what drives them are able to see where they’re going and what they need to do to get there. People who aren’t sure why they’re learning English on the other hand, tend to just wander around lost.

More on this in Master English FAST.


P.S. You can read the first chapter of my book, Master English FAST, for free if you like – just go here.


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