Before I came to Japan I had to have a medical examination, which included a hearing test. I passed with no problems, however, since arriving in Japan I question the effectiveness of this test. There seems to be a lower (apparently) audible decibel in Japan that is not considered audible in Australia. I often come across it in the classroom, when a student answers a question. The Japanese teacher hears the answer but I don’t. At first I suspected that everyone was secretly trained in lip reading, but then I noticed that the people wearing masks could also be heard.

Outside of the classroom the difficulties continue. As someone who is still learning Japanese, it is near impossible to understand something if you miss words due to not being able to hear. Those were probably the only words in that sentence that you would have known and pieced the meaning together with. Also, there is definitely a limit to the amount of times you can ask someone to repeat themselves before they start to think that you may not be all there upstairs.

Of course you could ask them to speak a little louder. At school, this will result in an even softer answer, as they didn’t quite understand what you said (‘speak louder’ is all you said) and they are now second guessing their answer. If you are at an elementary school, your problem may be the opposite of this. The kids are so excited that they will yell the answers at you, causing you to go deaf. Either way, it will be an experience.


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