I am trilinguist and I can understand few other languages from India. My initial thought before going to Japan was that people would be speaking a little bit English and I would be able to survive there on my own. However, I found myself helpless at many times as most people I met could not speak much or any English. The country has been modernized and is very advanced structurally; however, I felt that the universal language English need to be progressed in Japan. I am not sure if expansion of learning English would hurt language sustainability in any ways!!
None the less, I feel that speaking without understanding is better. There were some high school students who we met on the train could not communicate directly with us; because of not having a common language. However, we all were really happy after meeting with them and trying a fail effort to talk to them.
One of the most memorable experience I had was shopping at the gift shop. All the sellers were really nice and welcoming. I had very unique experience of understanding and communicating with what I call ‘an unspoken language.’ I spent almost two hours talking to them and looking around, we had a very good time and I think they all loved me.
This gave me confident that I would be able to survive very well in Japan even by myself. As, a the last day three girls in our group including myself had a success navigating and using train by ourselves.