Lately I’ve been watching a lot of Japanese TV shows on YouTube, so I’ve had another burst of language learning motivation. The main one I’ve been watching is YOUは何しに日本へ (Why Did You Come to Japan?). When I don’t feel like listening to 30+ minutes of Japanese, I find myself listening to compilations of Japanese commercials. I also find myself watching videos that involve idol interviews, interviews with random Japanese people on the street and simply randomly titled Japanese videos. I literally had to create a private playlist on YouTube called 《Listening Practice》 just to keep these videos from disappearing in my viewing history. It’s also gotten to the point where I start singing songs when I’m alone in the flat.
The thing is, where should I start teaching myself when it comes to Japanese? To be honest, I’m quite clueless without a syllabus or my sensei to guide me. Self-study is pretty intimidating… There’s lots of kanji heavy text glaring at me. Lots of grammar that I don’t understand and the fact that I don’t really speak the language I’m learning on a regular basis.
So I decided to try breaking things down to make it more comfortable and less of a frantic mess. (•̀ᴗ•́)و ̑̑
To get a general idea, I made a rough / small list of things I tend to talk about in English on a daily basis. As seen in the picture, these things tend to drift from casual things to broader topics like emotions. Doing this gave me a glimpse of what I need to focus on in order to function on a daily basis while using Japanese. It seemed pretty easy to do when I wrote it down, but looking back at it now seems kind of difficult…
Don’t get me wrong, there are a great number of things that people do on a daily basis. Just like before, I tried to write down a brief list of situations that came to mind at the time. I’m not the best when it comes to health, so I feel that I really need to know how to talk about things. For those who don’t know, I have the sickle cell anemia trait and I have to monitor that from time to time. So I would have to explain things like, “It’s too warm for me to stay in the sun too long.” or “Could I possibly sit in the shade and rest for a while?”. In a hospital setting I would most likely have to explain myself while listening to a nurse/doctor. Overheating sucks, so I would have to know how to communicate that during the summer time. ^^;;;
I’m also a bit of a (more like a super-ultra-mega) window shopper. I can easily describe why something visually appeals to me in English, but Japanese is an entirely different ball game when it comes to onomatopoeia. I will also need to explain my drawings, why I like certain characters, movies, TV shows- the list goes on and on and I’m still trying to overwhelm myself. So far, I think I’m doing okay, but this train of thought could easily change within the next few weeks. (My thought process rotates quite frequently.)
I’m going to be honest: I have no faith in my foreign language skills when it comes to speaking more than a few short sentences. As much as I would love to get better when it comes to speaking, my inner flustered shota comes out and I can’t function. I can easily have mini-Japanese conversations with myself, but speaking in front of someone else makes me nervous. Maybe even vulnerable? I remember when I tried speaking with a language exchange partner on Skype. We would shift between English and Japanese, and by the time it was my time to answer in Japanese… I froze… I also remember apologizing for my bad Japanese. I have no faith in myself. ^^;;;;;;
When it comes to listening, I have more faith in myself. I never really spoke during actual class time because I always made mistakes and felt about them. It felt wrong to make a mistake in front of the whole class, compared to making a mistake while being one-on-one with a Japanese tutor outside of class. It’s a corner that I’m going to have to shove myself out of when it comes to speaking in a foreign language. But I’m still trying to figure out where to actually start.
Though, not too long ago, I sent a voice message to my friend M-chan through the LINE app. I had been practicing my “What I Want to Do in the Future” speech for JAPN 236, and she helped me by correcting my messy grammar in the script. After I sent it to her she told me my voice was cute and that my pronunciation was really good, but I nearly threw my phone at the wall because I was a flustered mess. My voice isn’t cute… Hnnnghhnn!!! ヽ(*´Д｀*)ﾉ
Since then, things haven’t eased as much.
When it comes to writing I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better. With M-chan, we often have moments where we write each other in Japanese. When I can’t figure out how to express myself in Japanese, we switch over to English. We also send each other pictures of things (mostly food from me, I frickin’ love food) we’ve seen. I remember when she sent me pictures of the doujinshi she got from Comiket, the pictures from the Free! album art being displayed at a train station, pictures of festival she went to, ect. We have similar hobbies, and she often suggests things for me to watch or read (like Tokyo Ghoul~). I still wish I could have gone to Kuroket (the Kuroko no Basuke doujinshi event) with her….If only I could afford a one day round-trip to Japan just to go to Kuroket. Where is my fairy godmother?? ｡ﾟ( ﾟஇ‸இﾟ)ﾟ｡
「 私たちは友達だから~(*^^*)」 — “Because we are friends. (*^^*)”
— something I send M-chan a while back
It feels like yesterday, but we’ve known each other for a couple of years now. I plan on sending her a box of sweets from America as soon as possible. I could write an entire post about how I met M-chan and our friendship, if anyone is interested and if she doesn’t mind. She’s been a big help in my language journey, and I’m so glad that she’s patient with me. *gross internal sobbing* I’m now able to write small paragraphs in Japanese. Very smaaaaaaall paragraphs. Q u Q
Although this post is coming to an end, I wanted to leave you guys with this motivational slide show. Fair warning: there are 54 slides, but they include images. 🙂
Take care guys~!
PS: I started this post while I was at work, but didn’t have enough time to finish it. School has literally been taking up a lot of my time, but writing for you guys helps me destress and relax. I’ve said it before in another post, but I really miss being able to regularly write here. It’s a liberating feeling and I wish I had more time…. Though, thankfully, the school year will be over in a few weeks. Sadly, this also means a lack of regular wi-fi… BUT I do have other social media / networking places for you guys to keep in touch with me via my “About” section, so please feel free to check it out! 😀