An experience japanese speaking foreigners find annoying

Something that comes up time and again while speaking with foreigners that live or traveled in Japan (who speak japanese) is a certain experience.
Let me give you an example.

I was just on my way to the station when a friendly middle-aged japanese Lady stopped me.
“Excuse me, どこの国から来ました?” (Excuse me, what country are you from?)
I answer and we proceed to talk in japanese, with the occasional english vocabulary thrown in by her.
After a short conversation we say goodbye. But the moment she turns around she seems to remember something and asks me:
“少し日本語分かりますか” (Do you understand a little japanese?)
I look at her befuddled and manage a polite “はい、日本語分かっています。” (Yes, I understand japanese).

After that she seemed happy and went her way while I, once again, didn’t know if I should laugh or cry. It’s not the first time that someone asked me if I speak japanese AFTER we spoke actually in japanese for a while.
It’s something many have experienced and somewhere out there is a hilarious video about it (Sitting in the train right now and didn’t find it right away but will post the link later).

EDIT: Found it (^_^)

I think it’s not a mean thing, though after the first two encounters I was quite depressed because I thought my japanese was so bad no one understood it. The worst was when I asked a question in japanese and got a panicked “I don’t speak english” as answer…

Have you experienced something like this before?

4 thoughts on “An experience japanese speaking foreigners find annoying

  1. I had a similar experience in China. A few years ago I ordered coffee at a KFC in Chinese. The staff (several people) just stared at me and one said in broken English as an answer “We not speak English”, oh that was depressing, my Chinese was appearently so bad (though it was a very simple sentence and my Chinese family understands it) that they thought I spoke English with them..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, pretty harsh stories ):

    I guess the only way to interpret such experiences as they are deeply “humbling”.

    I haven’t had the exact experience, but something similar. I tried to speak to someone in Japanese, who promptly responded in English. I continued in Japanese, and that person then started using some Japanese eventually, but still mixed with heavily-accepted English words.

    While all these incidents are pretty frustrating, I noticed a pattern in that they seem to happen more with older people.

    I don’t fully understand the psychology behind asking whether someone speaks a language after it was used, but I think it has to do with assumptions and the fact that the native person was trying to speak “in English” until that point, even if it was a mix of two languages.

    Anyway, don’t let it bother you too much. The fact you can have conversations with Japanese people is great.

    Liked by 1 person

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