Tokyo International Toastmasters – Foreigner’s FAQ
How did you find this club and what did you feel at the first meeting?
I teach English at a high school in Saitama. One of my colleagues, a fellow English teacher, is a member of the Toastmaster club in Tamachi. She invited me to visit her club. I enjoyed the two meetings that I attended. I had a chance to respond to a few Table Topics questions and to participate in a formal debate. While I enjoyed the club, I hesitated joining because I was looking for more chances to practice my Japanese. My colleague had heard about a bilingual club in Oimachi (where I live), so I decided to check it out. I found out when the club (Tokyo International Toastmasters) met through its website. When I arrived at the meeting, I was surprised by the size of the club, which was larger than I expected. In that first meeting, to be honest, the Japanese was well above my level. So I didn’t understand much, but I saw the opportunity to prepare and deliver my own speeches in Japanese.
Why did you decide to join this club?
As I said, I really want to improve my Japanese level. I teach English at a high school and at home to my son, so I have few opportunities to practice Japanese. As a member of Tokyo International Toastmasters, I can prepare and present speeches in Japanese. It is a very good challenge for me. With each speech, I can work on expanding my vocabulary and understanding of the language. The Japanese sessions also give me a real incentive to raise my listening and conversation skill level, so that I can participate in Table Topics and Word of the Day sessions as well. In addition, I enjoy the opportunity to practice English public speaking. So I get a lot of value out of the club.
What do you think are this club’s good points (and bad points)?
The most important part of any club is helpful, welcoming members. I think that Tokyo International Toastmasters has that covered. Everyone in the group made me feel at home and has encouraged me to take different roles. They have supported my speeches and provided valuable feedback. The club’s format of half English and half Japanese sessions also works well for me. I get a chance to exercise my English in one hour of the meeting and I don’t get too overwhelmed by the high-level Japanese in the Japanese segment.
If I had one constructive criticism, it’s that our schedule is pretty tight. We don’t have much time for small talk between sessions. So it is hard to get to know the other members very well. I often can’t attend the after hours gathering, so the meeting is my only chance to mingle.
How do you recommend TM, what is the best point of TM?
The best point of Toastmasters is hard to pin down. You get a chance to actively work on your public speaking skills in a friendly, but professional environment. You follow a curriculum that helps you build your skills with support and advice from other members (essentially you attend speaking school without the corresponding costs). For those seeking to improve their Japanese, our club gives members a chance to stretch their Japanese ability. And if you like sharing a beer and some pizza with a friendly group of professionals, well, we’ve got that covered, too.