Sunday, December 16, 2007

Japanese Language Update...and some other stuff too!

Well, let the countdown begin!! I have 5 days left of school before Winter Holiday!! I am so excited! This break is coming at a very good time for me personally. I have been getting a bit anxious to get out of town and so I am going to do just that! We don't actually leave for our trip until the day after Christmas, but we will be getting together for Christmas festivities and such before that. Merry Christmas!!!

Ok, for the language update. I just wanted to share my progress on the Japanese language study. Although slow, I am making progress! I will start by explaining a bit about the language. There are 3 "parts" that make up the Japanese language.
1. Hiragana (ひらがな)
2. Katakana (カタカナ)
3. Kanji

Hiragana and Katakana each have 46 characters. It would be similar to our English alphabet, but they are not exactly alike. The English alphabet is single letters, these are syllables. Hiragana and Katakana are used separately and for certain purposes. Hiragana spells out any Japanese word or phrase (ex. good morning-ohayogozaimasu-おはようございます). Katakana spells out any foreign word (ex. computer-konpyuta-コンピュタ)。 Kanji are the more commonly recognized characters or symbols to foreigners (thanks in part to tatoos). There are literally thousands of Kanji characters, basically a Japanese word will have its own Kanji. Its a bit difficult to explain, but believe me its even more difficult for me to read...oh wait I can't yet! ha ha.

Anyway, so that is just a very very brief explanation of the 3 parts to the language. So as for my progress, it has been a challenge to say the least! I have been taking lessons now for about 5 weeks and have been studying like crazy! The lessons are once a week and we move incredibly fast! I have been enjoying them for the most part, but I leave exhausted! Basically, I go and try to speak the language for about 2 hours! I will put it this way...I sleep well on Thursday nights! So at this point I am able to read and write Hiragana and Katakana. Katakana has just been in the last week or so that I got that down. This helps immensely on menus! I have my first 29 verbs down and working on my other vocabulary! I know it doesn't sound like much but its a big step for me! I don't know any Kanji yet, but that is really not the focus at this stage of the process. I have to focus on the basics and then move to that. Its very interesting to see the difference in studying a language now, and studying it in high school. 10 years can make such a difference in the ability to be a sponge, for lack of better words. This just makes me realize the uniqueness of my teaching situation all the more! I am able to teach these kids a language at such a young age that they literally just soak it up! Its much more difficult at my age (even though I am not that old). I have really been enjoying the studying and am really pushing myself to learn as much as I possibly can while I am hear. I study something every day and have enjoyed getting back into that "college study" mode. It took me a bit to get back into that frame of mind. Ok, well this is the language update for now. I am going to be studying while on holiday (yes, I have to. I will lose it if I don't use it). My friend Leah, one of the two who I am traveling with, is much farther along in her studies and she is going to help me on my grammar and memorization, etc. I am looking forward to having a study partner over holiday!

I will leave this for now, but I will update more later! I hope everyone back home is surviving the cold/ice/snow...all of the above! I can't say that I really envy you all that much, but I would love to have a fireplace about now! That is something I miss from home! I wish you all a very safe and blessed week before Christmas!

Mata ne!


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