Learning (to like) Japanese

Last year I attended a beginner Japanese class. I was never motivated and I ended up just being frustrated and annoyed – complaining on almost everything about it. Why are Hiragana and Katana so difficult to memorize? I want to practice reading interesting stuff online after I learned the Kana but those difficult Kanjis are just everywhere, it made me frustrated and I stopped reading before I even reach the end of a stanza of a song. Why does the sentence endings have to be so complicated and confusing? Why are there so many rules in conjugating verbs? Where are the freaking spaces?

It doesn’t help that I didn’t enjoy our class either. A number of my classmates are already familiar with the language and most of them are know-it-alls (well, that’s how I felt then). They are also so into Japanese culture and they keep talking spazzing over this actor and this singing group and that drama and that manga and that anime. I felt so out of place in our class. It also doesn’t help that I dislike our professor. Not him per se but the way he conducts classes. He doesn’t make the non-Japanese culture fans fell at ease (say for example trying to introduce Japanese culture). I also felt he is not very keen in teaching beginners. The class’ pace was also very fast. I dreaded every class meeting because I felt so stressed.

I know it was also partly my fault. I should’ve exerted more effort. I should’ve spent more time studying. I should’ve tried getting to know more about the culture. I should’ve tried exposing myself to the language. But I just didn’t have enough time to do all that, that semester. I have zero motivation too.

But even if I don’t have a lot of interest and motivation, I really really wanted to try learning Japanese. But I ended up giving up on it after a semester of “torture”.  I thought it was just something not for me.

But due to some stroke of fate, I suddenly found myself sitting in an intermediate (Yes, INTERMEDIATE) Japanese class this semester. So I am now relearning Japanese.

Honestly I was so lost in the class. Just imagine the entire class was already talking about short-forms and quoted speech while I’m still trying my best to relearn Hiragana.

I’m still intimidated by my classmates and I still feel so stressed whenever I step in our classroom. From day 1 I never answered anything correctly during the recitation. I even greeted everyone おはよう ございます when our class is in the afternoon. BUT I’m happy to be part of the class because of our sensei.

Our professor is the best language professor I’ve had! Since he also teaches introductory linguistics subjects, his approach in teaching is very ‘linguistics’. We don’t follow our textbook religiously, rather he connects one lesson with another and we go back and forth our textbook in accordance to the way he sequenced the lessons. I’ve learned a lot already with his ‘personalized’ lessons. He  also integrates cultural stuff everyday and I’m liking the way he do it. It doesn’t make the ‘noobs’ like me feel out of place, yet the Japanese culture fans are also enjoying and spazzing about it. Maybe because he doesn’t join the spazzing (and talk in ‘gibberish’ fan-language that only fans can understand) and just let the students spazz on their own and make sure the others understand his points. And most of all he tries to inspire his students. He doesn’t make fun of those who keeps failing their quizzes and those who keeps making mistakes, rather he encourages them. He also doesn’t ‘praise’ those who always have perfect scores on their exam, rather he reminds them that scores are not the most important thing on earth.

“…what I really wanted to point out is that you should never just study/learn to meet the requirements of the course, especially something as widely applicable as a language course. Aim for a high grade, but don’t stop there. よい三連休を!”

Did I say I’m loving him now? He’s just too good that I’ll feel bad if I fail learning Japanese this time.

I’m still getting zeros on my quizzes (because I don’t really know and I don’t really understand a thing) but I’m working hard everyday, trying to learn what I should’ve learned already from my beginner’s class (until I catch up on our lessons). It’s difficult, but I finally am enjoying learning Japanese now. There are times that I can’t help but sigh and mutter “Why does it have to be this difficult?” or “Why can’t it be as simple as how it is in Korean?” but the thought of giving up is something that is absolutely not going to happen now. Never!

I still am struggling to learn the vocabs that I should know by now and I know it’ll take time. But I’m enjoying learning the grammar now (because I want to learn the beginner grammar as fast as I could because I’m so excited to catch up with the grammar that is being taught in class). I also don’t mind the Kanjis now. I’m more familiar with the characters because of my 2 Mandarin classes and at the same time I never let the Kanjis stop me from reading things. I just convert them to Hiragana for now since my Kanjis are still limited.

I also find time to expose myself to Japanese now. Though it doesn’t come as natural as it is with Korean, I just carefully chose songs and dramas that matches my taste. And I find time to watch Japanese dramas everyday despite my busy schedule. And it looks like it’s paying off because I no longer feel very much ‘distant’ with Japanese this time.

Any good Japanese beginner to intermediate lesson podcast? Something like Talk To Me In Korean conducted in either English or Korean. Actually I’ll be very interested in Japanese lessons in Korean. 🙂


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