Language Study Goals: The Beginning of Frustration

I’ve been in Japan for three months now and I’m starting to feel some frustration welling up. And it has to do with the language. I’m very upset I don’t know Japanese.

While I can mostly get by with no Japanese (I mean, what’s so hard about grabbing stuff and then presenting money, right?), I’ve started to notice that I’m starting to struggle in other ways. I hate the fact that when I go to the store to buy anything, I can’t tell what the cashier is saying or asking me. Its probably something like “Do you want a bag?” or “Do you have a points card?” or even, “Do you want this all on one transaction?”. But I can’t tell. And I hate that I struggle buying train tickets, and that I can’t communicate with the people around me. New Year’s just passed and I can’t say “How was your vacation?” or “What did you do?”. And even if I could learn these two questions, I wouldn’t be able to understand their answers!

And then there are days when I silently curse the fact that knowing I’m a foreigner, people just don’t care to try and help me. Then I stop and think, “Well, it’s not their job to.” And I hate this feeling (the upsetness at others) the most. I don’t want to be that person.

Which is why I finally decided to really take on Japanese study “seriously”. It’s not that I wasn’t taking it seriously before. I’ve picked up a few words and phrases, and other phrases (that I semi-vaguely knew) have started to stick more. Yet it’s not enough. But I also don’t want to commit to studying Japanese from a book because that’s boring

So what am I doing?

Well, I’m going to study what I find interesting, which means KANJI! I have a friend who is super into kanji and we sometimes talk about how awesome kanji are and their enthusiasm has convinced me. Plus, since I want to try my hand at translation at one point, I figured it would be best to learn the kanji as I learn the language.

How will I do this?

I decided that my goal is to study Japanese every day. Have I succeeded? Not exactly. It’s just after the holidays and I have a giant backlog of stuff I put off that I’m only just catching up on, BUT I’m actually not that off from every day. I’ve been doing some sort of study every other day because I wasn’t working, but now that I’m back on the clock, I think it will help me establish a better routine.

And I know I said I didn’t want to study out of some book but that’s one of the ways I’m studying (there’s no helping it really), but I’m also combining it with things like TV shows, music, and books. My focus isn’t comprehension on my first read/watch but exposure. Like, not tuning out. I want to really concentrate on what is being said and how things are written.

I also want to learn Japanese, ideally as quickly as possible but realistically maybe not that fast, so I can help students better. Learning the language would not just help me help them learn new vocabulary, but also give me entrance into their circle. I mean, they don’t talk to me much because they know we can’t really communicate. And it would help me feel less awkward.

I made a language study IG where I plan to eventually post daily!

Alongside my Japanese study, I decided to also focus on my Spanish writing, so I will be dropping more Spanish and Bilingual posts from here on out. My IG is also a mix of Spanish and English, and eventually I’d like to introduce some Japanese. Why Spanish? Well, I speak Spanish natively but I’ve always struggled to read and write it fluently. I can do both but I’d like to improve. Reading might be harder. I can’t even find English books in Japan, doubt I’ll find Spanish ones, but writing it I can work on.

Plus, by studying something that isn’t completely unfamiliar to me, I think I will feel less struck if I ever “fail” in my studying. Like, no I didn’t have a chance to study much Japanese but look, I did manage to write 100 words in Spanish!

And maybe, if I’m comfortable, I can add a third language in my studies towards the end of the year.

– G

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