• Nick

Learning to speak Japanese

Make no mistake, learning to speak another language is hard. There's nothing quite like it for making one feel completely stupid. The poor man trying to teach me seems like he would normally have the patients of a saint, however I imagine he was beginning to wish the second lesson would hurry up and end at least as much as I was.

I've never been a particularly quick scholar as my dear old German teacher from High School, Miss Williams will testify. In fact, she politely suggested toward the end of a very painful for us both 2nd year, that perhaps it would be best for all concerned parties if I didn't come back for a third. I imagine most of my teachers of that era probably shared similar sentiments. Dear old Miss Williams would certainly be rolling around on the floor in hysterics if she were to learn that at the ripe old age of 50 I was having another crack at learning a foreign language. Unfortunately (fortunately?) I can't/won't run from this challenge. I've meet numerous expat residents here who have consciously made the decision that they are not going to learn the language here. They get to know a few thank yous and can find their way around the supermarket, but put them in a small rural location without the help of whoever has to talk or read a menu for them and they are lost. While I won't judge their stance, I want to be able to understand a little more about what conversation is being had at the dinner table, and I don't want to hang just with English speaking people. Also, from what I've seen so far, rural Japan where they don't see a lot of foreigners, is the best Japan.

Back to learning Japanese. I'm surrounded by people talking nothing but Japanese, I've bought language books, downloaded apps, and now had two lessons. My teacher, who is a very charming gentleman, loves giving homework. Let's just think about that for a second. Homework. I have to do F###### HOMEWORK. And they have thee alphabets. Now lets let that sink in. THREE F####### ALPHABETS. And that doesn't include Romanji which is our alphabet. They use that too.

The lessens themselves are very intense. I found myself getting quite stressed trying to wrap my head around the principals of what he was trying very hard to impart onto me. My palms were actually sweating at one stage. I'm also a little embarrassed to admit I had to do an online English tutorial to remind me how my native language works using nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives. Strangely, it was quite useful.

I feel I have more to say on this but will leave it for later posts. I just needed to get out what was in my head while it was still fresh. I'm sure I will eventually be able to speak some Japanese, probably not very well, and certainly nowhere near the level of my lovely wife. But perhaps with someone who is very patient and won't take offense if I accidentally tell them they smell like a horses bum and their wife is sleeping with the neighbors dog. And just perhaps, one day, I may have a little more idea what is being said at the dinner table. I must admit though, even when the grownups are speaking English I get a bit left behind.

Watch this space.

If you need to ask why the rural Japan is best.

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