TOEIC in Japan: I don't speak Japanese!


I will take TOEIC test in Japan in fews days. However, I feel a bit scary because I do not speak japanese at all ! :roll:

Do you think it is a big problem if I don’t speak japanese? Will I be able to take the test without problems? If the staff explain only in Japanese, what I can I do? :cry:

I hope to get an answer as soon as possible.

Thank you

Dear Japan,

Many thanks for your question. I think you will manage to take the TOEIC test perfectly if you communicate with the administrators in English because the TOEIC is the Test of English for International Communication and the main idea really is to be able to communicate in English. Also, if you read the information on how to take the TOEIC on our website you will be well prepared. In addition, there will be people at the day of your examination whose English is sufficient to explain anything you have to know.
May I ask where you are from originally? Are you French?

TOEIC listening, talks: Promoting a new center[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hello Torsten,

Thank you very much for your quick answer!
As you probably know, Japanese don’t speak English well. But if you think the staff will be able to speak English, then no problem! I will just feel boring when the staff will explain everything in Japanese…

As you guessed, I am French. How did you notice? Because my English is terrible :lol:

Thanks again. And well done for this website/forum.

Hi again Japan,

You will certainly be able to maintain communication with Japanese TOEIC administrators - at any rate you should be able to speak English with the other test candidates - otherwise why would they take the TOEIC test?
Why are you in Japan? I suppose you work there? As for your nationality - your email address has got the French domain so I figured you are French.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, talks: Information on new charge card[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hello Torsten,

I arrived in Japan few months ago. I’m trying to find a job there and it’s quite difficult because I don’t speak Japanese yet. I decided to take the TOEIC test to show to International Company in Japan I can speak English. I can understand English without problems; however, my grammar is not so good. Anyway, it’s the first time for me to take the TOEIC test, and I will be happy to know my score :smiley:

Japan (by the way, what is your real name?),

You might want to read the first part of an interview with Jeff Hock, the founder of - he was pretty much in the same situation like you:

As far as I know French grammar can be very difficult too - the TOEIC emphasizes the importance of listening comprehension and the ability to understand written communication rather than grammar issues which is very practical and I’m sure if practice some TOEIC questions you will achieve a decent score.

Why did you decide to go to Japan instead of a European country?[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, talks: Road traffic report[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Torsten,

Well, my real name is Julien…

Thank you for the link. I can understand his life was not easy at the beginning…especially when you don’t speak Japanese.

Now I’m practicing TOEIC questions. And I can notice I don’t know many things ! But these questions are very helpful.

During the last 2 years, I studied abroad (Newcastle-England and Montreal-Canada). In England, I met many students from all over the world, including Japan. I got my diploma this year and then, I decided to start a new adventure in Japan. Japanese people don’t speak English. So if you want to survive, you have to learn Japanese very hard and work for a company (Japan is a very expensive country, money is also important…)
Communication is so important if you travel and decide to live abroad. Of course English is very helpful, but not sufficient. I want to speak at least 3 languages (French, English and Japanese). So I decided to go to Japan to discover a new culture and learn Japanese.

Hi Julien,

Many thanks for sharing your experiences with us. What did you study in Newcastle and Montreal? I guess it requires quite some mental strenght to go to country that is completely new to you. Why did you choose to live and work in Japan?
How did you manage to obtain all the necessary documents? How are getting along with people who don’t speak English?
Talk to you soon

TOEIC listening, talks: Telephone message[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hello Torsten,

Ok, I will answer your questions but I’m not sure if many people will read my small message.

When I was a high school student, I didn’t study English hard… But I realized later English is important, so in 2002, I started to learn English. To achieve this goal, I decided to go to England (Newcastle). I studied International Economics. As you can imagine the first 3 months was horrible, I couldn’t understand anything. After 3 months, I started to see some improvements, and I had more motivation to continue to learn English. At the end of 2003, I was very happy of this experience and I decided to go to Canada (Montreal). Why Newcastle and Montreal? Because my university in France has special agreement with these cities. During the last 2 years, I could meet many students from all over the world : Canadian, American, German, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Russian and so on. I started to have an interest about Asia and particularly about Japan. Then, the best way to learn the language and the culture is to go to the country. Once I got my Master in International Economics (In August 2004) I decided to go to Japan without a job and without speaking Japanese. I have a working holiday visa which is non renewable and will expire in 1 year. So I have 1 year to find a job and then I will be able to stay in Japan longer. It’s not easy for me to communicate with people who don’t speak English, but it helps me to learn Japanese faster !
It’s not difficult to obtain all the necessary documents when you want to live abroad. All you need is motivation. If you are motivated you can find a job and learn the language and finally, live in the country you like. Nothing is impossible…


A lot of people are going to read what you have to say about learning English and your cross-cultural experiences. As you know we learn English not just for the sake of the language but in order to achieve our goals in life. That’s why many people will be interested in your thoughts and ideas. Recently Rasa from Vilnus has asked what the best way to learn English might be ( and I’m sure she is one of those people who will find your proposals very useful. I particularly like your remark

Who can argue with this type of statement? You are living proof that, indeed, it is possible to learn English and even go to an entirely new country to live and work there if only you want to do so. I hope that the other members of our forum will join our exchange so everybody can benefit from it. I’m offline for three days and I’m looking forward to reading your messages when I return to the Internet. Regards. Torsten
PS: When exactly is your TOEIC exam?[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, talks: Announcement about new rail station[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi, Torsten and Julien!

A very good topic for this forum and its users! I think that by joining this community, we all display our interest in international contacts and exchange. Experiences such as yours, Julien, are extremely useful because they encourage us in our plans. Even if it was difficult for you in England, you did not give up and this is very important. And more important, of course, is the fact that you tackle the obstacles you have in Japan instead of running away.
A lot of people are afraid of living in a foreign country because certainly it is not easy to leave everything behind and start something new.
So we need some more positive experiences on this site :smiley:

I can only say that I enjoyed my stay in Canada two years ago. Before I was there I was terribly afraid, during the first week there I was terribly homesick and when I had to leave I was terribly sad because it was too short… :slight_smile: I met a lot of people and learned a lot of new things; I gained experiences I will never forget.

I decided to plan a longer stay in a foreign country and I hope that within the next few years this will be possible.


Hi Japan,

Nice to meet you, and welcome to the forum!! :slight_smile:
I’m from Japan, so maybe I can tell you a little about taking TOEIC exams in Japan.(I’m Japanese!)

First of all, I’d like to tell you not to worry about it too much. Supervisors are Japanese, but most of them speak English to a certain extent.(I’m sure some of them speak it fluently.)

I don’t think you’ll have any problems during an examination because of your Japanese ability. All the broadcasting is of course in English.

If you are still worried, please leave your home ahead of schedule. Then you’ll arrive at a place for TOEIC exam early. You’ll probably have enough time to have a talk with other examinees, and you can ask questions to supervisers before an explanation begins. Japanese are the type of people who like to help others. Some one will give you a hand if you have any troubles.

Please, don’t be too nervous. :wink:
There is always someone to help you.

I’m sorry, but I’d better go. It’s midnight and I have to go to bed now…!!
Good luck, Japan, and take it easy.

Bye for now!

Kumi :wink:

P.S. Here’s the link… just in case…!!

Hello :smiley:

Thank you so much Kumi! Do be honest I feel a bit nervous, but after reading your message I feel better :wink:

Yes, I agree. Japanese people are always kind.

Sorry, but I have to review some grammar points now. Because my test is on Sunday.

Ps : good luck sunny, I’m sure you can go abroad soon…


I just want to say I had the TOEIC Test last Sunday. I decided to arrive early to ask some questions to the staff. Unfortunately, the supervisor and her 2 assistants couldn’t speak English… However, they asked another supervisor who could speak English. So no problem at all!
Also, before the test, there is no more questionnaire (just 2 or 3 questions instead of 23)…
To conclude, I was the only one who couldn’t speak Japanese, but the staff did their best to help me :smiley:

I think I didn’t do badly the test. Listening Section was not difficult. However, I think I will lose many points in the Reading Section because I didn’t have time to finish all (I needed 10 more minutes). Anyway, it was a good experience and I hope to get my result sooooooon.

Dear Julien,

Many thanks for keeping us posted on your latest events. Congratulations on taking the TOEIC, you probably will receive your scores within this year. Why do you think you did better in the listening section than in the reading part? Is it because you have more exposure to spoken English than to written communication? What is the next step for you now? Are you applying for a job?

Kumi, you did an excellent job giving Julien tips on how to communicate with the TOEIC administration staff. It’s so pleasant to see that you support each other and share experiences. I hope to see you around often.


TOEIC short conversations: Two friends talking about the current price of their stock portfolio.[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hello Torsen,

Yes, you have guessed why I can understand spoken English better than written English…You know, I didn’t learn English in books, but in daily life. When I went to England, I didn’t have time to study English but only Economics… In the Reading Section, I didn’t answer according to grammar rules, but according to what I use to hear. For example:
Take it…

I don’t know how to explain, I just know it’s “take it easy”.

I really need to find a job, and I hope I will find one as soon as possible.

Hi Julien,

Many thanks for sharing your learning experiences with us. You see, to many people here on the forum it is vital to learn how to learn if that makes sense. I mean, instead of sticking to the conventional school methods there must be other ways to absorb and learn a language. You are living proof that it is possible to obtain a good command of the English language by listening and imitating. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly how native speakers of English learn their language and how you learned French, your mother tongue. The TOEIC test assesses and evaluates how well you can communicate in English rather than how well you can explain grammar rules.
Please, tell us more about your job-hunting activities in Japan. What kind of job are you looking for? How are you going to apply? Where do you look for job adverts?


TOEIC short conversations: Employee in R&D gives update on new browser development project.[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Julien,

I’m really glad to know you didn’t have much trouble when you took an examination last week. :smiley:

After reading your post, I’m a litte surprised (well… I admit… I’m very surprised indeed… :roll: I’m rather shocked ) The TOEIC staff in your area didn’t speak English at all !?
But one administrator spoke in English. That’s good. (Phew! :wink: )

Hmm… :? I think they should have at least one staff who speaks English fluently in each room. Now in Japan the number of foreigners is increasing. There’re always some people from other contries who take Toeic exams to check their English level or to obtain certificates to work while they’re in Japan.
Anyway, you didn’t have any troubles. That’s really good.

By the way, where in Japan do you live now?

Dear Torsten,

Many thanks for your nice words …! :wink:
I wonder if I could have been any help for Julien…!!

Living in Japan is not easy for most of westerners, for Japanese life and culture are very different from western ones. As I told Julien in my previous post Japanese are very helpful generally, but on the contrary we Japanese don’t show our emotions and feelings very clearly as westerners usually do. Because of these attitude, sometimes some (people from other contries) might be frustrated and some must be even shocked!!
Some may find it it’s just traditional difference, and some may think Japanese are the people who are just too thoughtful before saying something.

Gee, how diffuicult to understand one another without misunderstanding!? …though we build up our relationships from these expreiences… :wink:


Hi Ann,

You get some basic information about the TOEIC here:

In addition to that you might want to contact your local TOEIC test centre in Japan and I’m sure there will be somebody to guide you through the process.
As for teaching English in Japan - there are lots of things you can do. Get in contact with language schools and offer your services. Start giving private lessons to people you arlready know. If you do a good job your students will spread the word and after a while you might be able to organize small classes.
Also, if you read around on our website you will find an interview with a young lady from Europe who is now teaching English in Japan. Maybe this interview will be interesting to you too.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: A log transporter[YSaerTTEW443543]

I’m from Vietnam and now i’m studying my master in Japan. My major is Entomology and mainly i work on biological control which uses virus to control insects. I read all of the messages from you-Julien and from our dear Torsten. Thanks so much for sharing your ideas and experiences in working and studying, taking TOEIC tests in Japan. It’s hard for us- foreigners who can’t speak Japanese to live and do want to work in Japan with high salary because most of japanese company they just want to employ those candidates who can speak both Japanese and Emglish. I’ve learned Japanese for 6 months and to me, it’s really difficult to learn Japanese in a short time.

I also want to take TOEIC test, i’m preparing for it.

Thanks Torsten, you really a good online teacher for us.