And so, the first semester of my Japanese course finished with a bang, as everyone struggled their way through the JLPT practice test on the very last day of class, before heading out for two weeks holiday. Although the last three months have been extremely intense in terms of learning and remembering SO many new words, phrases, grammar and kanji, the test was a reminder that we still have such a long, long way to go.
After the last day of school, I went with my wee family to the beach for an evening picnic, and who do I find there but my teachers! They were having a beach BBQ and there were LOTS of bottles and cans on the table. They obviously needed a much-deserved break too.
But, the brain is a muscle, and a lazy muscle at that. Stuff that you don’t use gets continuously deleted to make space for new stuff. So I promised myself I would study during the term break.
Sadly, I didn’t even open up my books during the first week of holidays, prefering instead to go out and have some fun. But this week, I’m exercising the brain again.
Above are some of the kanji we have to know how to write for class. These are the first ones that students learn — the numbers, days of the week, in, out, left, right, ocean, mountain, etc etc etc. They test us all the time, but I am trying to test myself at home and see how many I can remember. So far we’ve done just shy of 100 characters. Apparently in order to read a newspaper, you need to know more than 1,000!
Being unable to read is a source of incredible frustration for me. Take, for example, my recent adventures in recycling.
Every Friday, they pick up cardboard and paper. So I flattened the boxes, and tied them up with string. Then I came home to find this yellow rejection sticker on it. Out of the list of 10 possible mistakes I made, they had underlined what I’d done wrong. But of course, I can’t bloody ready the kanji.
So, I tried again the following week. I took off the string, and tied it up really tight, and put it on the curb for collection.
Again, yellow sticker. Rejection.
Finally, I took the yellow sticker to the local dollar store, and asked a friendly old lady who worked there if she could help. Her eyes lit up — she led me over to the aisle for packing, and showed me. I had been tying up the boxes with the wrong type of string. The white string is made out of plastic. I was supposed to be using brown paper string. Seriously! Ridiculous right?
I don’t have hopes to one day read a Japanese newspaper. But it would be nice to know how to read enough to deal with daily issues!