This morning was a very stormy day. In fact, it was so stormy, that parts of I-35 were shut down because of flooding. My Japanese lesson was scheduled for the morning. It got cancelled. But we rescheduled for the afternoon, so it was not necessarily a bad thing.
Sensei told us yesterday that she only wanted us to speak to her in Japanese in the future. That did not work out. But I think it sets a good direction, so I started sending messages to the group in Japanese – even if I had to look up words in Jisho to find words I didn’t know.
There was a little pushback from the group wrt the kanji I used that they did not know, but I showed one of the members how to look up unfamiliar kanji, and I pointed out that I prefer to use kanji rather than hiragana because the meaning is far more precise. He seemed to understand. I do not recognize words as easily when using hiragana as I do when using kanji, though maybe that is something I should also work on.
I am not the most competent in the group (I refuse to remark on where exactly in the group I think I am), but I am working on it, and my strength right now seems to be in memorizing kanji and the important readings. In fact, when necessary, I can remember a kanji even after seeing it only once or twice, though it does depend on the kanji. Some give me more trouble than others. But I was drawing kanji on the whiteboard that no one else in the room except for sensei knew. Perhaps I was showing off just a bit, but truth be told, I was just enjoying actually knowing something useful for once instead of feeling like I was just barely keeping up, as I usually do.
I still do not like where I am. But for the first time, today, I felt like I could at least hold my own and contribute something of value to the group. And that’s something, anyway.
I think a part of my issue, honestly, is that I am very good with the English language. I’m not perfect, as it is a very difficult language, but I’m good at it even compared to other native speakers. I spell well, I have relatively good grammar, and I manage to avoid most of the pitfalls that many others fall into. But in Japanese, I have none of that. I read and write on the level of a first grader, and frankly my vocabulary is much smaller than that of a first grader. That is an uncomfortable place to be. And the sad truth is that no matter how good I get at the language, I will never be as fluent as even the youngest grade school student.
But all that aside, and for reasons I don’t even understand, I’m not giving up. And as I’ve mentioned, it gets easier.