To be honest, it wasn’t my intention to post every 8 months. However, in between working two jobs, a house move and a global pandemic…you really do lose all sense of time.
However, with that said. With all of this time that I seem to both have a lot of, and none at all, I’ve finally taken the plunge that every anime fan wishes to take at some point…
I finally started properly learning Japanese! And when I mean properly, I don’t mean doing a bit of duolingo and watching some anime for ‘listening practice’ (though that does come in handy). We’re talking real hours over みんなの日本語 with a tutor. Has it been stressful so far? God, yeah. But I’d still like to share my experiences so far, as I’m sure many other anime fans have thought about it at some point.
My main reason for learning Japanese was actually not anime. Truth be told, I’ve always been struck with wanderlust, with Japan at the top of my list. Now, I could always flaunt my 外人かど when I went. Having lived in tourist cities abroad previously however, I also know how irritating this is. My biggest inspiration was not only my lust for travel, but also my current (2 years running…) favourite band are also Japanese. My current benchmark for learning is “If I can translate their songs fully with no help, I’ve made it!”
Of course, anime is a factor as well. Believe it or not, I’ve had a huge dry spell with anime, and only recently began to watch again. I’m hoping that with understanding the language, some of the magic will also return (Tokyo Revengers being such an amazing show helps, too!)
So I enlisted the help of two textbooks: げんき１ and みんあの日本語 (Genki 1 and Minna no Nihongo). As a native English speaker, if you are looking at going down the textbook route, I strongly recommend Genki 1 due to the ease of explanations. Now, it has been hard. Japanese has grammar rules that I, as a grammar teacher, cannot begin to comprehend. Subjects before everything else? Particles? は vs が？ Vile. However, it simply makes the pay-off that much better. I am currently 3 weeks into my learning journey, and already know more than I could have ever imagined self-studying by myself. Just today, I held an entire conversation in Japanese with my tutor! It was all very simple sentences, of course (who I am, how old I am, where I work…), but it was more than I could ever imagine doing before.
And then, that brings me to the other thing I mentioned: a tutor. The single scariest thing about learning a new language is other people hearing you speak. Believe me. 3 countries later, it is absolutely the biggest hurdle I faced when learning French and Sinhala (RIP). This time, I have taken the plunge, and I booked 3 regular tutors to help me on my journey. I mentioned the book みんあの日本語 – without a tutor, attempting this book would be impossible, due to the fact it is written entirely in Japanese. No Romaji. No translation notes. Zilch.
I have been using a site called italki.com. Italki is amazing, because it connects you to 100’s of tutors in every language you can think of, that will get you to speak. Whilst the conversations I’ve been having are simple, my pronunciation has improved immensely. There is only so much you can grasp from anime and youtube videos, but conversations with a native speaker really are the key to achieving the handle on the language that you’ve always desired. So whilst it is early days, and I won’t be dubbing anime any time soon, I am pleased to share my language journey. Hopefully, I can update sooner than 8 months time in much better Japanese than I am showing today!
Have you been learning Japanese? Have you attempted to learn Japanese in the past? How did you find it? Let me know your experiences.
次回まで (Until next time)!
P.S. – Not a plug, but if you are interested in italki, you can get $10 worth of credits after your first lesson using this link: https://www.italki.com/i/ref/FAaHCa?hl=en. Your first lesson can be as little as $3, so it’s worth a look. ^^