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28 July 2009 @ 04:25 pm
Day Two  
Redemption.

This is not to say I actually did well on today's test, I may have even done somewhat badly. But... It was easy. For the kanji part I expected that (and I know I did make a fair number of stupid mistakes there), the reading part... Well, between the mid-term and the final, something clicked, and I went from being a really slow reader to one of the faster readers in the class. And it felt a lot easier.

And here I was worried that somehow the hour we had for the reading section wouldn't be enough -- I was finished in less than half that.

It gives me some renewed hope for listening comprehension at some point. Even if I'm still frustrated (and after yesterday, in a bit of shock). The real problem, I suppose, is that even though I'm in Tokyo, I'm still not close to sufficiently immersed; the people that seem to be progressing the fastest are doing homestays; the people living in dorms are lagging considerably. I'm going to really have to concentrate on going forward, but not sure how to make that work, since so far I've failed rather miserably.

But now I'm not so worried about surviving. Tomorrow shouldn't be so bad, I hope.

What is a bit scary is the realization that the vast majority of the people in the next level are going to be more advanced than any of us continuing on; because a lot of the students are exchange students with fairly arbitrary levels of Japanese, it includes everyone from not quite skilled enough for level three, to just barely skilled enough for level two (which, of course, includes us, since we just finished one). We've been told the first few weeks can be rough for that reason, but after that it settles down. And, honestly, it means we'll be getting more out of the class than they will.

But it will be more crowded. Level one was one less than twenty people. Level two needs multiple sections in the bigger classrooms -- and fall is when the bulk of exchange students come, apparently.
 
 
In the mood: tiredtired
 
 
 
Aifebruaryfour on July 28th, 2009 09:26 am (UTC)
The real problem, I suppose, is that even though I'm in Tokyo, I'm still not close to sufficiently immersed; the people that seem to be progressing the fastest are doing homestays; the people living in dorms are lagging considerably. I'm going to really have to concentrate on going forward, but not sure how to make that work, since so far I've failed rather miserably.
We could hang out more often with the DDR crowd. Pure Japanese jabbering. They do the Sunday thing very regularly, and we could always just go for dinner at Akiba (and not do DDR at Odaiba beforehand).

And the Nippon2007 folks, too? ^_^
Douglas Triggs: astronomydoubt72 on July 31st, 2009 03:47 am (UTC)
Yeah, seems like a good idea (he says, super late).
dr4b on July 28th, 2009 02:00 pm (UTC)
Haven't you made a bunch of choices specifically to not be immersed? Like joining a club on campus that has a lot of foreigners, and hanging out mostly with English-speaking people, and singing English songs at karaoke, and so on?

I haven't taken an actual Japanese class in like 10 years at this point, and could undoubtedly benefit from some formal training perhaps, but I deliberately spend most of my time in Japanese-speech situations. Yeah, it gets frustrating sometimes when I can't understand stuff, but I'd rather be always talking and always trying than not trying for fear I'll make a mistake or whatever.
Douglas Triggs: taodoubt72 on July 28th, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
You know, I've actually been thinking a lot about this, and there is one specific thing that need to be addressed to improve things, and it's not one of the things on your list. You're right, but it's not the core issue.

First: Most of my social circle in Tokyo is actually Japanese. Of course, that's completely misleading, because the it's not a very tight circle, but the main problem is, they're Japanese -- I see them maybe twice a month (ironically, I'll be sharing a hotel with them in Montreal for five days in a couple weeks... It'd be bloody ironic if I get more speaking practice in America than here, but the difference there is that my Japanese friends in America actually have spare time). Effectively my social circle is actually just one person: Ai.

Having Ai as a GF isn't helpful, of course. I'm not forced to speak Japanese to her, and even if I was, she's not native. I'm starting to use grammar she doesn't understand, and she has bad habits I don't want to pick up. But... It's not a negative, either, because she's been helpful in other ways that have made life in Japan a lot easier. And thinking long-term, if I'm still talking to her down the line when I hit Chinese again, THEN she'll be really helpful.

I'm am ctually seriously considering starting up DDR next semester, and hanging out with those guys more would be good because they speak even less English than my other Japanese friends and they meet a lot more often.

Second, club... It is what it is. The bottom line is if there wasn't enough people that spoke English in it, I simply wouldn't be able to participate at all. Even at Sophia, a lot of clubs shun foreigners exactly because of communications issues -- most of them will be gone in a semester and it just isn't worth it. My Japanese simply isn't good enough to communicate at that level (it just isn't -- it's not just bulling through mistakes), and that's a bootstrapping problem (which, really, is the main problem. My spoken is so bad that there are situations that I can't communicate at all. We'd be reduced to hand gestures and still get nowhere). But, I joined it to keep in shape, not learn Japanese.

That said, it hasn't been a strong negative. I got a fair bit of practice there (plenty of communication failure, occasional success), actually, since all the meeting-type things are in Japanese, and my block leader doesn't speak English. And... All the current gaijin will be gone next semester; if there aren't many replacements, that could be good, since I've already gotten into the group (more or less, there was the occasional messy gaijin-nihonjin group politics), and I'll be more on an island than before. I dunno, we'll see.

Last, karaoke: I do it a lot more just with Ai, actually. But I was completely exhausted when we did it (I was picking the absolute easiest songs I could, I wasn't going to do anything new even in English). These last couple of weeks, I had enough trouble with English, try Japanese on me and I'd just stare at you blankly; it wouldn't register at all. At least my unconscious mind can form English sentences, even if they make no sense.

Which boils down to the real problem: I need sleep. I can't survive on the amount I've been getting, much less learn anything. It takes too much effort to speak Japanese and wears me out at the best of times. I just can't DO anything about it without sleep, my brain just shuts off. I've been running on fumes and am barely surviving the end of the semester by the skin of my teeth, hoping it finishes before my grades plummet to the point where I completely crash and burn.

So, I need to get out of this dorm (which has no advantages whatsoever, except being somewhat -- but not particularly -- cheap) and into an apartment. It's been killing me. And that's what I'll be doing. Get that, a reasonable commute, and I hope I'll be okay.

I'm still worried about how far behind on the spoken I am, though. The program isn't particularly forgiving, I'm not sure I can catch up, and I'm worried that I'm still in real danger of drowning next semester. If I wasn't moving... Well, I know it'd just be hopeless, honestly. This isn't sustainable.