March 19, 2003
I’m learning Japanese, I think I’m learning Japanese, I really think so. Tonight with tell, as we have our first quiz in the class Mr. Karen and I are taking at one of the community colleges. We took French there before we went to France some years ago, and that worked out pretty, so we thought we’d try it with Japanese. No matter that one of the reasons the French thing worked out was that Mr. Karen had taken it in high school and just needed a refresher, while neither of us has any previous training in Japanese (unless listening to Mr. Roboto counts). We know that 12 weeks of instruction (24 if we can fit in another semester before we go on our as yet unscheduled trip) is not going to make us fluent, but I’m at least hoping I’ll feel a little more comfortable when I get to Japan than I would if I’d taken no classes at all.
As I expected, Japanese is proving to be harder to learn than French. Part of that is because it’s not much like English (or Spanish, the other language I’ve studied). The other part, the one I wasn’t as prepared for, is because the instructor is a native Japanese speaker. That would be a lot more helpful after I’d learned the rules and structure and needed help with sounding less like a foreigner, but at this stage, when I’m trying to learn the basics, it can be a little frustrating. We students ask questions from our native English speaker perspective and what we mean is not always clear to the instructor. Sometimes she’ll answer a different question than the one asked, and sometimes she’ll tell a story that has nothing to do with language at all.
Despite the difficulties, I am actually learning some Japanese. I can count to one hundred pretty well, and recognize the character for “women” on a bathroom door, and say “good evening” and “thank you” and a few other phrases, which is a lot more than I knew when we started class last month. After I do our taxes and figure out how much money we have left, I think I’ll get the tapes or CD’s that go with our textbook so I can practice during my commute. I already talk to myself when I drive, and this would at least be productive talking.
L is for Language