arisha: (yurina looks down on you)
[personal profile] arisha
Okay let's try to write an entry that isn't totally grumpalicious. I swear I keep coming up with ideas for happy LJ posts but then as soon as I go to write them I forget what they were. x)

I signed up for Level 5 of the Kanji Kentei! This level tests all of the kanji learned in elementary school. Over a thousand!! Unfortunately I didn't study as much this holiday weekend as I'd hoped to, but I don't think I'm too behind. I'm going to take the test at my junior high on July 12th. It might be a little weird because July 12th is my last day at my Friday elementary school, and I'll probably have to ask to leave a couple hours early so I can catch the train to go write the test. I suspect it's rude to ask to leave early on one's last day, especially as they'll have to figure out how to schedule in my good-bye ceremony before that, but hopefully it will work out. I really want to write the Kanken once more before I leave you guys. :B July 12th is also my last day at any of my schools, so I look forward to having my junior high good-bye ceremony and then waltzing back in the very next day to write this test hahaha. Awesome.

Re: how much has my Japanese improved during my time on JET, the answer is unfortunately not as much as I'd hoped. My kanji has definitely improved; I could read an okay amount when I got here but my ability to write them from memory was at a second grade level. It's kind of ridiculous how I was able to get away with completely slacking on kanji during my four years studying Japanese in university; the way we were "taught" them was pretty terrible, or at least I thought so. But of course I can't blame my university profs entirely when I definitely had the attitude of "Oh yeah, kanji ... I'll get to that ... someday ..." Well soon after I came here I started using the bright level Kanken books and going through one level at a time, and while I can't say I remember everything I've studied, oh man my kanji is ABSURDLY better now than it was when I arrived. And I actually LIKE kanji now. Like, a LOT. To the point that I hopefully won't have much of a problem continuing to study them even after I get home. Apparently there is a school in Vancouver that hosts the Kanken, so perhaps I will even be able to keep taking it. x)

Maybe this is obvious after the above point, but my reading has improved! Both through kanji study and through just reading! So far I have read eleven books in Japanese, and while they have all been kids' books with pictures and everything, I have definitely noticed the reading getting easier. I'm trying to follow the rules of extensive reading in language learning (eg. only read things that you want to read! if you get bored, find a different book! etc.), but I have on occasion broken the rule about not using a dictionary. But both through looking things up and from guessing from context I think I have been picking up a lot of new words.

My listening has also definitely improved, just from hearing Japanese everywhere I go, but speaking is unfortunately a different matter entirely. I think I way overestimated how much Japanese I would be speaking in my daily life here. I mean, you may have noticed that I take my job as an ALT perhaps too seriously; when I can use English in an interaction with a student, when a co-worker wants to practice their English, when a friend wants to practice their English, I am 100% absolutely going to use English. In all honesty, the only friends I've made here all have a very strong interest in English. So as a result of all this I feel like I have at most one or two short conversations a day in Japanese ... sometimes less. Which is a bummer. I am still taking online classes and I enjoy them a lot, but man I wish I could get more speaking practice. I guess I should have made more of an effort to find people with no interest in learning English, but I didn't I guess ... It's just frustrating that I've been here almost two years now but I still make so many mistakes when I talk.

And on a related note, it's lessened now but a couple weeks ago I crazy wanted to start learning a new language. It barely even mattered which one hahaha. I get this urge once in a while, I think partly because the beginning of learning a language is so exciting to me!! When you're just beginning, everything you learn is huge, right? Like, you learn the alphabet or whatever and suddenly you can read!! You learn the past tense and now you can talk about the past!! Like every step forward changes the way you're able to use this new language in huge and exciting ways. I'm kind of at the point in all my languages where I'm learning these smaller grammar points that I might see or use occasionally, and it's not exactly the same. I mean I know I'm far from fluent in all of them and still have a long way to go, but I do yearn sometimes for those more exciting days hahaha. I wish I could start a new language but I really gotta focus on the three(!!!) I'm already working on. D: In preparation to go back to school I have started listening to a couple podcasts in French and Spanish, trying to get them back into my brain. While I'm still in Japan I feel kind of guilty working on languages that aren't Japanese, but it's not like I'm spending my kanji studying time on them or anything so maybe it's okay. x)
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July 2015

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