Thursday, January 16, 2020

My Japanese-Language Learning Experience, Part Four

Welcome ("youkoso") to another in what is now undoubtedly going to be an ongoing series of posts detailing my Japanese-language-learning journey.
If you recall from Part Three, at the time I was seriously considering signing up for a continuing education course at the local community college called "Conversational Japanese II" (there was no "I", but fortunately I knew all the prerequisite words and phrases listed in the course description). Well, shortly thereafter, I stopped considering and actually registered. I was pretty excited about it, because while learning Japanese on my own has been fun, I was really looking forward to practicing and developing my skills with other living creatures besides my cats, who, to their credit, are pretty nonjudgmental when I mess up (which reduces the stress level), but does nothing for my actual learning.

Unfortunately, I was just notified that the class has been cancelled due to low enrollment. That leaves me to continue practicing with my cats for at least a little while longer. Some of our more common conversations go something like this:

Boots: meow meow meow meow
Me: Doushita, Buutsu? ("What's up, Boots?")
Boots: meow meow meow meow
Me: Daijoubu? ("Are you okay"?)
Boots: meow meow meow meow

or, when Mittens starts chewing on a plastic grocery bag:

Me: Oi, neko - yamero! Rejibukuro tabenaide yo! ("Hey, cat - stop! Don't eat the plastic grocery bag!")
Mittens: *ignores me and continues chewing*

So, yeah, hopefully I'll be able to find some other alternative fairly soon*. My learning journey has been going on in earnest for well over a year now, and while I've made progress, I do feel like I'm at a bit of a plateau. Let's take stock of what I know at the moment:

- I can read all the hiragana and katakana (Japanese syllabary) characters
- I can write in hiragana, but my katakana is still a little rusty
- I know maybe around 50 kanji (those complex logographic) characters. In contrast, my daughter knows about 280 (most native Japanese speakers know ~2000 of them).
- My vocabulary is probably around 500 words or so (most native Japanese speakers' vocabulary is around 10,000 words)

To my credit, I did manage to decipher a random ad that I saw on a Japanese-language website that said, in hiragana/katakana/kanji, "Honto ni, eigo na no, kore?" ("Is this really English?") It helped that there was a contextual clue (below that sentence were a bunch of English slang words like "gonna" and "juwanna"), but still, I was pretty proud of myself.

Anyway, stay tuned for Part Five...

* and I just might have, details to come

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