February 3, 2011 | Japanese

Transcendent Language-Learning Day

Things are looking up for me with Japanese!

The past 24 hours have been really good ones for Japanese. I confess that over the past two months, I have been struggling with spoken Japanese, finding the Pimsleur lessons hard to conquer, redoing them often, sometimes preferring to skip the oral work altogether and focus on the writing instead.

Me Working Hard

Me Working Hard

Today, though, I did six Pimsleur lessons (well, technically seven, since I did one in the middle of the night, at four in the morning, before going back to sleep).  I am still doing each lesson at least twice, so I don’t mean to say that I mastered seven lessons in one day and am moving on.

Rather, I redid one previously completed lesson once, redid another lesson twice, and then did four new ones. Those four new ones I plan to redo tomorrow.

I think one thing that has improved my Pimsleur performance is reminding myself how important it is not to multitask too much with difficult languages (Japanese qualifies). I am going back to my Russian-style studying from July 2009, when I first discovered Pimsleur and used to do Russian lessons while lying completely still on the office floor with the lights off.

Over the past few days I have done Pimsleur lying on the floor, lying on sofas, lying on the bed, with my eyes closed and concentrating like hell. And I am doing much better.

I am getting things right in spite of myself, and in spite of this crazy grammar! No offense meant to the Japanese language, but wow! Those particles, and the different verb forms for the different levels of formality, are killing me!

Word-Writing Practice

Word-Writing Practice

I even made great progress on the writing front today, moving from characters to words. I practiced by looking at transliterations of common words like “mother” and “nose” and then converting them to kana. I am amazed at how reliably phonetic Japanese is. The writing is definitely hard—but once you master the kana, you can make great progress, it seems to me.

This past day was probably the first time I felt an intuitive connection to the spoken language. It is starting to make more sense. And the parts that don’t make sense, I’m able to relax through and feel less frustrated about and try to grasp through intuition rather than reason and grammar.

What I really want is to add a fourth month for Japanese and get an internship at a Japanese company here in New York. Japan Society or Nippon Life, do you need an intern? I promise to sit up while at work.

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