Learning a New Language: How difficult could it be?

It is a new year, I may still be having some difficulties in picking my messed up routine caused by my bad procrastinating habit. Nonetheless, it is the right time to refocus my living energy into something that may help me later and, perhaps, keep my brain working. Among all the possible tasks that I could think of, I am gravitating towards learning a new language. I know that now, I am not in the best position to transition to another foreign language as my native tongue is somehow also pushed back to the sideline. I have not been able to use Filipino consistently in both oral and written forms. However, I think, even with this kind of situation, I could still get back to using my vernacular once I pick up on it later on. Now, I would like to further work my brain cells up by exposing myself to Japanese.

なぜ日本語を勉強するのですか?

The heading for this was just from Google translate. 😀 However, it is true that I started learning Japanese. But why this, exactly? Others might be thinking that a European language would be a lot easier, specifically Spanish. Why do I think so? There are already many Spanish terms and expressions in my native language, Filipino (to which I can only use Tagalog).

Well, I am unsure of the exact reason behind this choice. However, I think it is because I somehow already have a background in the Japanese language. I once was a lost sheep during my university days, where I needed to take up a foreign language course under our program. So, among the three available languages (Spanish, French, and Japanese), I thought that it would be more interesting to learn another Asian language. I did not expect that it would be an extra challenging experience, especially with only one professor teaching it. This situation meant being in a relatively large class with fewer interactions to use Japanese. Still, luckily, I survived and passed Jap 1 and Jap 2.

My undergraduate experience still has an impact on my interest in the language now. When I started working, I was not able to immerse myself in learning Japanese further. I still have some of the basics in my mind, like the hiragana and some common expressions/greetings. I am still struggling with remembering katakana. 😛

Last October, I enrolled in a beginner Japanese class that only had 30 hours’ worth of class time. It was a great experience as I was able to refresh my mind with the Japanese words and expressions that I encountered as an undergraduate. However, it was still a new experience as there is a lot that I do not remember anymore.

The Struggle and Discipline

Despite the seemingly overwhelming number of expressions, words, and differences with the sentence structures, learning Japanese was a fun and worthwhile experience. After all, I have always been fascinated with the process of language learning. I have been teaching English for about eight years now, and it was good to be on the receiving end of the lessons this time.

I understand the difficulties in keeping up with the lessons or even remembering the discussions after some time. With only having twice-a-week sessions, I had no time to review my notes during my free days. On top of this concern, I also have a full-time job. I had to set a specific schedule so that I would be able to accomplish the homework and even the take-home quizzes. Being a student helped me better see how the engagement within the classroom plus the understanding and assistance of the teacher can affect the learning process. Moreover, I felt a sense of accomplishment while in this process of studying. I got to taste again the bittersweet moments of preparing for a session and even the worry of not being prepared for a class. It brought me back to the days when I was passionate about my learning and my engagement in class.

In this beginning journey to my language learning, I was lucky to have shared the sessions with only one other student. We had more chances to speak and ask questions during the classes. I hope that I would find time again to engage in such a learning environment.

Learning another language is sure to bring a lot of headaches and challenges, yet the result at the end of the process would be worth it. I just hope that I would be able to focus on building better study habits as I fit this new endeavor into my work schedule. It is not easy to be a student and a teacher at the same time. I even have to prepare for my completion of units and my masters soon. Also, I guess I have to lessen my viewing of Korean shows in the meantime. I think I have to start picking Japanese shows to practice my listening skills and even pick up some useful expressions to use. 😀

頑張って! 

Please excuse my bad Japanese handwriting as I have no proper writing practice. This was my attempt in using the characters that I have learned so far. There are a few kanji that I also attempted to use, somehow. 😀

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