I am back to school and back to struggling with Japanese again. The first class of the new term was terrible as I found it incredibly hard to understand the new grammar. The lesson also contained about 200 new words that I did not know. In my first few terms every new verb and noun was explained in class, but not any more. Now that I am considered to be an intermediate student I am expected to go through all the class material in advance and look up the meaning of anything I don’t understand. I am also allowed to use a dictionary in class. This does mean that the classes progress faster as explaining every new verb in Japanese using words that we have been taught before is time consuming. But it also means spending many more hours a day studying by myself.
I am managing to keep up with homework, kanji, essay writing, and grammar but I am not good enough at conversation. I have a good memory, so I can memorize the weekly conversations we are expected to learn by heart, but my general conversation ability in class is low. I have a disadvantage. Everyone else in my class lives with someone who is a native Japanese speaker. The women who sits beside me is Chinese and she only communicates in Japan in Japanese because her husband and his family don’t understand any Chinese. I rarely communicate in Japanese and my fellow students were surprised to discover that I was not married to a Japanese man. It seems that the only reasons they could come up with for a woman living in Japan for this long was that she was married to a Japanese man or that she taught English. And since neither of these things is true for me I get to remain mysterious. Aided by the fact I find it hard to explain my situation in Japanese so I don’t always try.
Today I am working on kanji. This week’s kanji is much too difficult to remember as all the words are new and the concepts are a little confusing. There are far too many ways to describe construction and building in Japanese. Of course there are many ways in English too but today it’s Japanese I am sulking with.