Thursday, October 2, 2008

School blues

Today will be my third day of Japanese class. Honestly, I'm a bit jaded about the class. I find the teacher nice but a bit less than stellar in her teaching style. The first day was so terrible that I began to question perhaps dropping the class. It's taught in what I guess you'd say is a very "conversational" style. Which means that it's taught by spending five minutes showing you fifteen kana, ten minutes making you play an odd form of bingo with your classmates using these kana that you don't actually know and the rest of the time learning daily phrases rapid fire and "roleplaying" interactions using them with your classmates where you pretty much read lines from the board because the line you've just been taught has been mushed up with the last ten you just learned and you can hardly keep them straight. Suffice to say, if I'm learning anything from this class it's from self study. And I can self study without paying $400 for books plus tuition and four hour round trip bus rides thank you.

I think it's just a question of learning style. I expected Japanese class to go like my Spanish classes did. Give me run downs of sentence structure, teach me a handful of verbs, nouns, pronouns etc, teach me conjugation and allow me to ... you know, learn to form sentences. Instead I feel a bit like a parrot, spotting off lines who's use I know but who's meaning I do not. I know how to chat idly about the weather with someone but I have no idea what the individual words in the sentence mean. And without that knowledge, I'm not really learning Japanese am I? I think I was looking for something a bit more achedemic and a bit less hands on.  Frankly, I feel I'm wasting my time and that since most of what I'm learning I learn by teaching myself I'm also wasting my money. 

I'd say that it's worth it to have a native speaker to teach you pronounciation and such but I have two advantages on that. 1) Brit has taken years of Japanese classes and is quite good at it so I have an in home tutor. 2) I watch a CRAP LOAD of sub titled anime and don't have any problem understanding how sylabyls are pronounced.

I think I've learned more Japanese memorizing the lists of useful phrases most players in Final Fantasy XI learned. Knowing how to chat about the weather is going to be as useful to my goals of understanding Japanese media as knowing how to say "You can pull another. I have enough MP" would be. 

I feel lost in the class very often. But it's an odd sort of lost, I'm a good student and a natural achedemic. I'm not use to not knowing what's going on. But apparently giving me a stream of sentences who's meaning isn't solid in my mind other than "This is how you say "Thank you for last week. Here is the book you loaned me. Thank you." and then asking me to interact with a random stranger as if it were they who loaned me a book is a recipe for me feeling like I haven't learned a damned thing. Also, my level of learning seems directionally proportional to my interest in the subject matter. I am very interested in learning to understand Japanese. But with the teaching style and the direction of the class I end up throwing my hands in the air and feeling like "Who cares?". Which isn't condusive to learning. I'm going to come out of this only knowing hiragana, which I will have mostly taught myself because as said any time spent on them in class is rapid introduction and review of what you were apparently suppose to have taught yourself over the weekend. 

Maybe I'd feel a bit less bitter if going to a 4pm -6:30pm class didn't involve leaving home at 1:45 and getting home at 8:30 ; ; 


wayofthechosen said...

I remember my Japanese classes from my college days, but I lost most of it. You don't use it, you lose it. Which is a shame. I would really like to pick it up again. One thing is important the teacher has to be compelling, if not the class will be tedious and it will be hard to learn

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