My Journey Towards Learning, or Trying to Learn, Japanese
I’ve been teaching English to Japanese students for over six years. One might think I should have learned how to speak Japanese by then. I should have. However, up until this day, I can only understand basic phrases and sentences and can barely utter a decent sentence save for the common ones taught everywhere.
I stumbled upon a site once while I was training new hires in our company to become teachers. It was actually a site for trainees to learn basic Japanese phrases useful for the lesson. I saw many of the new teachers studying it, but I wasn’t interested one bit.
In the past when I was still teaching full-time, I used to have students who wished to teach Japanese using English. They used our classes to practice it and so I learned some basic structures and rules. I know the rules. I know the structures, but I don’t know many words. I even made an agreement with my former manager that I’ll learn one full sentence every week in exchange of something. I was able to do it for few weeks where I learned how to say “I have a headache”, “I’m hungry, I want to eat something”, asking basic information such as name, age, birthday and where something is.
Some students were even kind enough to translate some basic phrases for me which I forgot after few days.
Then somehow, I rekindled my interest after someone told me I should be studying Japanese myself. I rise up to the challenge and started over. I chose to begin learning how to read the two simpler characters; Hiragana and Katakana. In about an hour, I have memorized most of the characters and was able to read basic syllables and words. The next day, I started with Katakana. I even downloaded tutorial videos on my phone to take home. I showed it to my eldest daughter and since the material was interesting and quite easy to understand, my daughter became quickly hooked to it. She memorized all the Hiragana characters in less than an hour. I can say, she learned way much faster than I did.
It was fun learning the mnemonics for the characters. It’s nice when short quizzes come up and I try to remember the letters in order to read the words. But honestly, I’m usually only good at the beginning. In few days, I might be starting over again.
But recently, whenever I see some Japanese stores, characters or materials, I try to read the characters. Sadly, they mix all three characters in one sentences including the bane of my existence, Kanji. I haven’t really tried to learn it, let alone interested in it. Just looking at it makes me dizzy. But maybe, I’ve started now so it’s nice to continue and learn something new at this age. And since Japan and its people and culture are close to my heart, I might just pour my heart into it and exert more effort to actually speak the language. All I need is a bit more intrinsic motivation and probably, a little push. I like challenges when it’s worth it. Any suggestions on how to learn Japanese fast?
stumble on/upon(v): find something by chance
rekindle(v): make someone have a particular feeling, thought ect again.
be hooked on: if you are hooked on something, you enjoy it very much and you want to do it as often as possible.
mnemonics( /nɪˈmɒnɪk/)(n): something such as a poem or a sentence that you use to help you remember a rule, a name etc
bane(n): something that causes trouble
let alone: using after a negative statement to say that the next thing you mention is even more unlikely.
exert(v):to use your power, influence etc in order to make something happen
intrinsic(adj): being part of the nature of character of someone or something; OPP:extrinsic