It's really interesting to see the effect that communications and media technology have on language learning. My second year Japanese students have so much more outside, self-sought exposure to the language than I ever did (or could have). When I studied Japanese in Colorado I basically had what was in my textbooks for source text and a sprinkling of Japanese novels in translation in the library for cultural background. Someone once had a video tape of Japanese tv in my last year of school. I borrowed it and watched and the only thing I could make out was "yon-daburu-d", which through the context of the truck commerical I understood to mean 4 WD (4 wheel drive). I was thrilled.
These kids have sooo much more exposure through games, videos, cds, websites, dvds and manga. They bring so much more knowledge with them to the class than I ever had. It's very cool. It's not like they don't have a long way to go to being completely competent in the language, but they seem to be able to grasp the flow of things and not demand one to one English equivalents. Expressing yourself in Japanese is very different from expressing yourself in English. You need to be able to get beyond what the individual words mean and go for the overall meaning and effect you hope to acheive. That's basically easy to do in your native language and not so easy to do in an acquired one.