February 28, 2011 | Japanese
Some lessons learned, a little grumpily at times.
I did not finish all the Pimsleur lessons. That bugs me. In the end I had about 4.5 lessons left, and I really needed to redo another five or so of them. Oh, well.
In recent days I enjoyed a number of conversation sessions with native Japanese speakers. Unfortunately, I don’t think I was quite ready for so many intensive conversation sessions.
It is fun to try to speak Japanese, and that is the idea, but I got frustrated and my ego was dented. When the person you are doing the conversation exchange with can say sophisticated things in English about art and culture, and your response is repeatedly, “Huh?” and “It’s nice weather today, isn’t it?” and “Where does your older sister live?” then the conversation is a bit lopsided.
I think I should have focused heavily on the Pimsleur from the start, rushed to finish it earlier, and been further along in my basic oral skills before starting the conversation practice, so that I could be more expressive.
As someone who has made a living as a writer, expressing whatever I wanted to express, being so limited in what I can say is monumentally frustrating.
Japanese was definitely harder than I expected before I began. Grammatically and in many other ways. There is a different word for “older sister” versus “my older sister,” and “younger sister” versus “my younger sister,” with the same thing happening for brother relationships. Meaning that instead of just combining “sister” and “brother” with age-related terms, as you do in English, you have all these new words to learn.
That is just one small thing, though, and not a formidable obstacle in the end. There are other, more formidable obstacles. Though with time and dedication, nothing that couldn’t be overcome.
My three months did give me a flavor of Japanese, but a systematic basic grasp of the grammar of Japanese eluded me in the short time I had. I would like to go back to it and do it more justice in the future. But now—on to French!
As my goodbye to Japanese, I went back to something I have enjoyed a lot, which is kana practice. Finally, at 12:40 in the morning, I closed my books and said sayonara.
Japanese went out with kind of a whimper, but there is no reason a whimper needs to be the final word. Who knows what will happen down the road?