This semester I’ve begun a learning project in which I am attempting to learn Japanese. I’ve been documenting my progress via Voicethread (clicking here you can check it out and see my progress). This originated as an ECMP 355 assignment but I am interested to see where it will go from here. For the assignment we were required to spend at least 25 hours on our project and I quickly learned that this is not enough to learn a language. What I have learned though is that within 25 hours while someone may not be able to learn a language they can begin to get more familiar with a language. I have begun to learn some of the differences between Japanese and English and have learned a bunch of key phrases in Japanese that I can identify and respond too.
Through this learning project I have learned, on a small scale, what it might feel like to be a ESL student. I’ve begun to understand how different English can be in regards to sounds and general meanings/ contexts in relation to different languages. One thing that struck me as very different with Japanese is the differing levels of formality that are difficult for an outsider to understand. I learned that there are some phrases that I can only use at say this time, or only in this place to only this type of person. This seemed foreign to me but I could see how a native speaker, immersed in the language, would just understand these intricacies in the same way that some things in English are just ‘common sense’ to me and not others. I could just imagine how difficult it would be to be in an environment where all this would seem new. Although my learning curve would be greater, being immersed in the language, there would be so many differences that starting out I could see it being quite overwhelming.
My learning project is by no means done. I decided on this in the first place because it has long been a pursuit I have been interested in and ECMP provided the push I needed to get started. In the short time that I have done it so far I have begun to understand the sounds, subtleties, and developed a basic foundation of the language as well as develop an appreciation for different perspectives. I plan on continuing this project and am excited to see where it may take me and what obstacles I may run into along the way.