If I had have seen the info graphic on how long different languages take to master before embarking on my language journey, would I have chosen the language which takes longer than any other, by far? Maybe… I like a challenge. I could have become fluent in French, German, Spanish and Italian in the time it will take me to become fluent in Japanese. The thing with learning language is, I believe, that you must have an affinity with and to the country and culture. If you do not, it becomes meaningless.
I have always dreamed of being bilingual. I learned Greek for 7 years, quite successfully, French for 2, very unsuccessfully, and Italian and Spanish for a year each, for fun. None of these languages gave me the joy that I get from learning (or trying to learn) Japanese. Japanese encompasses so much more for me than 2 alphabets, thousands of Chinese characters and headspinning laws of grammar.
I love Japanese food, movies, books, anime, manga, etiquette and style. My love for Japan pervades every aspect of my life.
My Japanese classes are fun and a highlight of my week. Sometimes I feel that the mountain is so high, and my climbing is so slow, I may never reach the summit. But then I watch a Japanese drama or talk with a Japanese friend or someone in a restaurant and realise that I have come a very long way. Better still, when you speak to someone in Japan and they comprehend what you are saying (to the amazement of my teenage son). It’s a very satisfying and accomplished feeling. I like it, a lot.
My Japanese proficiency is extremely basic, even after more than two years of classes and countless hours of homework, diary entries and study….. but, I am determined that although it may be a life long project, I will get there eventually. With a plan to one day live in Japan, I am sure that the immersion into every day life will increase my profeciency exponentially. So, a grasp of the correct basics of grammar and as much knowledge as I can stuff into my head before we go will give me a good grounding and a ongoing project and challenge.
One of my goals this year is to sit the JLPT4, and I am hoping going back in March will give me the purpose and motivation to really embrace my Japanese study again. So, although the summit is very high, and at times seems impossible to scale, I will continue my climb. I am determined to enjoy the view and challenge at every level. The joy is in the journey, after all.