“Learning 日本語(Japanese)”: Andrew’s Experience

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Andrew Carlson

All international students at TCU, with exception of those who are already competent in Japanese, are required to take six Japanese courses, or eighteen credits, over the course of their first two years studying at TCU.  I happen to be in the intermediate level of Japanese with the second year ACTS-ES students.  We are currently enrolled in the last mandatory Japanese class, so we are on the home stretch!  Each trimester of Japanese has looked a little bit different.  This trimester, our instructor, Miyako Kobayashi, has incorporated various activities into our class time in order to ensure a more relaxed, tanoshii class environment.  One of my favourite parts of the class is at the end of each lesson in our textbook when we write and perform a skit.  Sometimes the skits can be boring, but most of the time we’re creative enough and write some omoshiroi skits.  I think one of the best ways to get new grammar and vocabulary to stick is to create really crazy, funny sentences that use those words are structures.  Even just speaking and using new grammar/words a few times is so beneficial for language acquisition.  Another activity we do often is tadoku.  Tadoku basically means a lot of reading; lately, on Wednesdays and Fridays, we will end class with some reading out loud as a class.  Sometimes we will read all together, individually, or even act the scenes out.  I really like tadoku because it helps us to become familiar with the kanji that we are learning and according to Kobayashi-sensei, hearing your own voice while reading really helps to learn the language.  Although it is necessary to study, one of the aspects of the class that everyone can agree is probably our least favourite is learning kanji or Chinese characters that are used in Japanese.  With each lesson, there are anywhere between fifteen to thirty new kanji to learn.  We are expected to learn the different readings of the kanji along with the correct way to write the kanji.  Of course, we also have quizzes for each lesson’s kanji; the quizzes are never terribly difficult as long as they aren’t writing quizzes.  I can handle learning the readings, but learning to write them and remembering how to write them is a whole different story.  Overall, Japanese class has been a great experience, especially because of our amazing teacher.  Surely without her help and grace, we would not be where we are today in our Japanese ability; I think everyone can agree that the best part of our class is Kobayashi-sensei.  Although I may not always be appreciative of all the Japanese homework and having to go to class every morning, Japanese class has definitely benefited my experience at TCU by equipping me with the language ability to communicate with the Japanese students here.

“Andrew and Laura’s skit in Japanese class. One of his favourites”

 

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