Monday, December 17, 2007

Learning Japanese

Learning Japanese this semester was a very different educational experience than any I've had since seventh grade. That's when I started learning Spanish, which was my first foreign language.

What I've liked most about the class:
-- keeping a blog was a new and fun experience for me. I probably didn't maximize its possibilities as a language-learning tool. Still, the prospect of writing about Japan and Japanese culture (even in English) made me much more aware of Japan-related things during my time on the internet. I think I learned a fair bit about Japan just by reading news articles and the like that I probably would have skipped if I hadn't started studying Japanese and keeping a blog.
-- I'm happy to have learned a new alphabet (hiragana, katakana, and a couple kanji). This feels like an accomplishment.
-- I got on to the elevator in my apartment building the other day with an Asian. She was closest to the buttons, so she asked me what floor. I said "13" and it took her a while to find the right button. "My English is not very good," she apologized. "Oh, where are you from?" I asked. After she said Japan, I said something in Japanese. She practically screamed, "Oh! you speak Japanese?!" Happily, the elevator reached the 13th floor just then, and I got off. But I was happy to know that if I had only 10 seconds or so, I could say something in Japanese and give a Japanese person the illusion that I could speak the language.
-- Class always seemed to go quickly and efficiently.
-- Just memorizing stuff was a challenge for me; it's been a while since I've had to learn in this way.

If I had to complain:
-- I'm not a big fan of the yellow textbook. In my opinion, it doesn't always have enough explanation or enough examples for language use. For instance, it seems that several things we had to know about which verbs take which particles in different instances were only communicated in class. Then, as class often went quickly, I often didn't take very helpful notes. So I'd be left without a written record of something that might have been important.
In fact, it seemed that the yellow textbook was like a summary of important points in some more detailed textbook elsewhere, which we didn't have ("The Main Textbook"). I realize that introductory books should not be overwhelming, but this one seemed a little too scant compared to some of the things we were asked to do in class and in homework assignments.

1 comment:

yukki said...


I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed blogging. I simply thought of a blog as a place to use Japanese outside the classroom, but reading your comment made me realize that it's more than that. I hope you'll continue to explore Japan, Japanese language, and Japanese culture.

And you can make people happy just by speaking their languages :-)

Lastly, about the yellow book---maybe I should have introduced some books or dictionaries that explain grammar more in detail. I think I'll do that next semester.