Sunday, March 1, 2009

Japanese Update!

Konichiwa! I just wanted to update on my pursuit of the Japanese language! It's been a good week with my studies. The audio lessons are definitely the way I pick it up the best. I have to recommend the Pimsleur series for anyone who learns by listening and doing. You get right into speaking in lesson one and you learn the grammar as you go. I would also recommend the series if you have a long commute. I've been able to progress pretty quickly being that I drive so much. I am working on lesson 7 of 10 out of the basic set right now. I'm going to have to either buy or borrow the comprehensive set if I'm to really get going with it. The bad thing is that to progress through all three levels it can be pretty expensive. The comprehensive set has the same first 10 lessons, and then 20 more on top of that. Alright, so I have to tell you that I did not expect to enjoy learning a language this much. I expected it to be worthwhile, and I expected to enjoy it, but I am really having a great time with this! I have a theory that I'm loving it so much because I'm getting to use my brain in a way that I really haven't used it since I was very young. I did take a lot of Spanish in high school and college, but for some reason it wasn't the same. I can't really figure out why, except that maybe it is so close to English in so many ways, that it's not really like truly learning to communicate for the first time. The romance languages are that way. Similar sounds, alphabets, words etc. The trickiest part is the grammar and verb conjugation. Japanese is like learning to communicate all over again to me. The pronunciation and words are very foreign. It isn't what I'd call difficult, but it is different. It seems to actually be a pretty efficient spoken language so far. That doesn't even enter into the alphabet. If you take all of the Kana and Kanji into account, there are more than 2000 that every Japanese child is supposed to know by the 9th grade or so. Everything is new. Like learning to speak your first language as a child. I did decide around lesson 5 that I needed to learn to read and write Japanese as well. By all accounts, reading Japanese improves your pronunciation and your basic concept of the words themselves. Knowing the Kana (the letter systems) you can more easily grasp the words themselves as opposed to the Romaji (or the romanized Japanese words using roman letters to spell the Japanese sounds). So I went to Borders and picked up my workbook to learn the first 46 Basic Hiragana. I can recognize and write the first 12 so far. In Romaji: a-i-u-e-o-ka-ki-ku-ke-ko-sa-shi. So here I am, a 31 year old guy practicing my letters on a workbook sheet and saying them as I write them over and over. Using a mnemonic device for each one to remember them when I see them and learning to speak by listening to other people. This brings me back to why I think I'm enjoying it so much. I think maybe my brain remembers learning to speak and is having a wonderful time doing it again! As I said, I'm thinking in a way that I haven't since I was a small child. This is getting a little long winded for a blog that's supposed to just tell you, I'm progressing with speaking Japanese, I am now learning to read and write it as well, and I am having a blast with it! I'm raising my progress bar for Basic Japanese to 5%, but I have to confess that I really don't know what encompasses basic Japanese, so I'm guessing blindly. Anyway, I'm being as conservative as I can until I'm more certain about my progress and my destination. Thanks for visiting! Talk to you soon! -J

No comments: