The Japanese Challenge – Week 4?!

Things are heating up. Not the weather (which is currently wet and cold), but all the responsibilities and expectations I have heaped upon my plate for this fall. They’ve been rotating in the microwave for the last four weeks, and I’m beginning to lose track of all the different things I put on the plate in the first place; everything is melting together into a sticky mess.

And it’s beginning to burn…

Seriously, when I was originally planning this fall semester out, I’m not really sure why I decided that on top of two young children, a full time job teaching in a community school, and two grad classes, I would spend at least an hour a day practicing Japanese. It seemed so effortless in the beginning. Sure, I was starting from scratch, so all the initial sentence patterns were familiar and easy to recall. In the beginning even the Kanji were easy to remember because I was only reviewing perhaps 20 per day.
I have entered the stage of any well-meaning routine where an unconscious will to self-sabotage comes into play. There have been a couple days where I will somehow completely forget to study, and I will be getting into bed at night, when I suddenly remember…. then head back downstairs to get the job done.

It’s at these moments where I need to reflect on the purpose of this endeavor.
1) It’s a major component of the grad class you are taking.
2) You feel like an idiot when you visit Japan and cannot be a part of conversation.
3) You have already put three full weeks of studying into play, and have spent hours of time researching the best methods of studying.

I feel better… although I have just realized that I have been procrastinating from studying by writing this post…

To make amends, I will briefly describe another way of making the studying a little more relevant to my final purposes. Now that I am becoming a little more profocient, I thought a great way to prepare myself for different situations with my wife’s family and our friends, would be to think of possible conversations and write out potential sentences I might hear and could respond to.
Here’s an easy one:
Location: Airport, getting picked up my father in law who doesn’t speak English (but does speak a little Engrish)

Me: こんばんわ岸本さん。久しぶり。Konnbanwa Kishimoto-san. Hisashiburi! Good evening Mr. Kishimoto, Long time no see!
Father in law: 久しぶり。乗る、どでしたか。Hisashiburi. Noru, dodeshitaka? Long time no see. How was your trip?
Me: よっかたですよ。にもつカラセルにどこですか。yokatta des yo. Nimotsu karaseru ni dokodesuka? It was fine. Do you know where the baggage carousel is?
Father: あのううう。。。あそこ、と思うい。いしょうに行く。Anooo…. Asoko, toomoi. Ishou ni iku? Ummm…. over there. Shall we go together?
Me:いいですよ。 ii desyo.  Sounds good.

Probably made a mistake, but seems pretty solid! I put both the Japanese Kanji/Hiragana, the furigana (English pronunciation), and the English translation so you can see how the pronunciation works. If you are fluent and noticed I made some glaring errors, please comment below!

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12 thoughts on “The Japanese Challenge – Week 4?!

  1. Thank you for sharing your struggles with language. I’m going through the same thing with Español; however, I think Japanese would be a harder language to learn. At least with Spanish, I can make some connections with what I know about French. I also have a young child and I’m taking two grade classes. We are crazy! Keep at it. That’s what I’m going to do. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the encouragement. You’re using duolingo, right? What do you think about using it as a tool for the instruction of Core French in elementary schools? Due to an internal shuffle, I am now also teaching my class French, and was thinking of ways to make it new and interesting to the class.

  2. I can relate to trying to manage the whole classes, work, family challenge. I have 2 kids – one who is 7 the other 2. With everything going on, once and a while I get a little sleep deprived – Making it challenging to just communicate effectively in English, never mind another language! Anyways, best of luck to you with everything! I can see by your posted video that at least you manage to keep your humour! 🙂

  3. Sounds like you have a lot on your plate! Just remember to breathe! Your posts are great by the way, one of the blogs that I am really relating to and finding it easy and fun to read!

      1. I couldn’t agree more. Wouldn’t it be nice if every class was like this? Best lesson is that we need to make our students feel the same way when creating assignments!

  4. I think Duolingo has some potential for Core French. I’m finding that it is a very individualized program, so that would help meet your learners where they are at with their French language skills. It is an app but also web-based so easily accessible from many devices. It has engaged me, so maybe your students would like it too! It definitely has a lot more potential than other language learning options due to the interactive educational format. Give it a try! (And then let me know what the students think.)

    1. I introduced it to my class last Thursday, and was a little disapointed that so few actually used the program over the weekend, as I had assigned. One drawback to the program is that students are required to spell in English correctly, and unfortunately for many of my grade 5’s, this isn’t one of their strong points. I’m going to keep at it though, and hope that further exposure will help cement a routine.

  5. Good point. I tried out Babbel for language learning and it too requires correct spelling; however, it gave me the letters to play with and used pictures more often. Maybe it has a French version? I think this you have to pay for it though after one free introductory session, so probably not a good option. I will let you know if I come across anything else.

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