I've talked before about my fondness for Japan, but I don't think I've really touched on my love-hate relationship with Japanese language itself. This seems the perfect time to bring it up, since I've rebooted my studies from scratch.
Not counting my college education fees, I have easily spent at least $3000 on Japanese study aids. I have software, textbooks, dictionaries, workbooks, books dedicated solely to particles, books on Japanese slang, business Japanese, novels and children's stories in Japanese, so on and so forth. It's actually pretty pathetic, when you look at everything I've bought, every method and restart I've tried, and realize none of it's done me any good. Two years in Japan and four semesters at university, and I'm still at best an upper beginner.
Why? Couple reasons. First and foremost: I've always been a horrible student. I never learned good study habits. I was always the "Procrastinate, then cram cram cram" kind of child. I did just enough to get by. I don't recommend this to anyone. As time-consuming and aggravating as studying is, imagine graduating from university and realizing you've learned almost nothing. Awesome!
Japanese should have been the exception, right?
I have a lot of reasons why it wasn't. Some excuses, some legitimate, some things that were all in my head that I could just never let go of. I tried writing about it here, but it became this sprawling, out-of-control essay that felt petty and delusional. Just know this: jealousy put the first strain in it, really early on, and frustrated hatred broke the rest. Maybe we'll get into the details later. (But probably not.)
You know what? I'm tired of failing. There are two things in the world I want to succeed & be good at: writing and Japanese. I'm working on the former. Time to fix my attitude toward the latter and stop shooting myself in the foot.
I finally understand: those $3K worth of books aren't going to teach me a language. I have to teach me a language, and I have to find a new approach. I've spent the last several months digging through everything I can find, trying to figure out where I went wrong so I know where to start again. I finally have a battle plan to show for it. I've broken up the components of Japanese into various categories, and I have a structured way to start and improve for each. For example, in the Listening Comprehension box, I start with audio conversations and increase in difficulty until I'm watching movies and newscasts.
I'm not feeling optimistic so much as determined. I'm in it to win it this time; there's too much to lose if I don't.
There'll be more on this in the future—who knows how much, since I'm bad about updating blogger (Twitter spoiled me with its tiny, easy posts!), but I at least want to talk about a couple brilliant programs I'm focusing on this time 'round.
View from inside Chukyo University's Main Building