Thursday, August 18, 2011

Why I'm Learning Japanese

There were several reasons why I came to Japan. Experience hanami, travel throughout Japan, see different parts of Asia, and try something new like taiko.

The main reason, though, was to learn how to speak Japanese. Growing up, I had very little interaction with the Japanese Language. My Japanese consisted of food names, and maybe 'hello' and 'thank you.' Other than that, though, it was pretty pathetic.

In middle school, I took French because it was the only language offered in 7th grade. This lead to me taking it in high school and eventually adding it as my double major after studying abroad in Bordeaux. So no help from school with my Japanese.

Throughout this entire time, my grandma was the only one who spoke to me in it. She has always had this weird notion that I understood her. And I kinda did. Between her mixture of English words and me guessing the context, I could make some sense of what she said. But that's all it was--a guess.

So when I went back home for a few days and I was going to see her for the first time in over a year, it was my true test. How far have I come in a year?

My Grandma in Japan!

It went from gibberish to... Japanese? My comprehension turned from less than 5% to maybe 80-90%. It was incredible. After years of poor communication with my grandma, it's like I now had access to a completely different side of her.

Did I accomplish my goal? I'd say no, not yet. I'm still not comfortable responding Japanese. I didn't really speak back in Japanese. I just responded to her with English. 

So I've come a long way, but I still have a long way to go.


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