Progress

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.