I visited the University of Toronto when I was in Toronto. The most impressive feature of the UT was students. They were discussing anywhere in the campus. On the other hand, Japanese universities (at least my university) doesn't seem to have such a culture. We study hard but we seldom discuss what we are studying. This difference can explain well-known story that Japanese students are good at taking good score in the exam but never contribute to discussion in the class. They just attend the class and take note diligently.
Are you deaf?
Before I study in this city, I had thought that such shortages of japanese students result only from their lack of baldness. But based on my recent experience, I think that it may be a null hypothesis . In fact, Japanese students don't have enough verbal ability to discuss with native speaker of English even in a post-graduate level. I feel it strongly everyday. Attending discussion is far more difficult than reading academic thesis and writing essays.
When I use English, thinking process of my brain is still japanese. It is hard to recast. So, thinking process of my brain is like this.
1, input information form of English.
2, translate it into japanese and produce an idea in japanese
if I don't have to output my idea, the process ends here. If it is necessary for me to output my idea, process 3 starts immediately.
3, Translate the idea into English again and make appropriate form of output(sometimes expressing my opinion, sometimes write article sometimes...)
As you guess, it takes so much cost and time. Cost is not a critical problem. But, time is critical problem in some occasions. It is when we attend discussion. When we discuss about something, topics change time to time so quickly. Nobody wait for you until you finish processing your idea. It follows that you lose opportunity to state your opinion. Of course you end up gaining reputation as "silent grade-thief " because they misunderstand our silence. they perceive our lack of statement in the class as neglect of attendance. No, we just can't voice my point of view in the classroom.
How can japanese student avoid being "silent grade-thief"? The answer is extremely simple.
JUST ACCUSTUMED TO THINK IN ENGLISH.
Of course it takes so much time. Maybe 6-12 months of effort is required to me… Oh!!!… It is unfortune that i was born in a country has language much different from English in respect of structure.