Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Lesson 1: What is your hobby?

Anata no shumi wa nan desu ka?

What is your hobby(hobbies)?

Nihongo no benkyo ga suki desu.

I like studying Japanese.

Shiken wa amari suki dewa arimasen.

I don't like tests much.

It's a start.  Tonight I began Japanese lessons provided by the St. Paul Community Education center.
My teacher, Shimano sensei, is Japanese and has been in the states for 17 years. He has degrees in applied linguistics and nursing. He works as a translator at local hospitals and teaches community Japanese classes for fun. (Oh, and he also speaks French.)

On Tuesdays, I'm in the "Intermediate class" and really enjoyed tonight's class.  We covered some basic material that I've studied before - basically dialog about  hobbies, likes, and dislikes. For me it was basic review but great to be hearing the language again and being reminded of the more formal grammatical structure. I tend to use informal Japanese when I speak and realize I need more reading and writing practice. Plus there is a weekly quiz so I'll be held accountable to studying the material.  It's a small class with 7 students, including myself.   One classically trained singer, college level student, master's level student, performing artist, computer tech guy, and someone who's unemployed.

I found out that one of my classmates traveled to Tokyo this August to see an AKB48 concert celebrating their 4th album release at Tokyo Dome.  It was a bit surprising to see a grown man admit to his devotion for this 48 member female singing group who range in age from teens to mid 20s.  Their music is considered J-pop with the style as "bubblegum pop".  But he did the culturally appropriate thing and brought our class おみやげ (omiyage) or souvenirs from the concert (a box of ACB48 cookies).

 When I'm in Japan I have much more opportunity for Japanese conversation.  But I'm often so busy with school and mission responsibilities that I don't have much time or energy to study Japanese.  Now that I'm on stateside assignment, I have more time and energy but need to really search for opportunity to speak it.  Tuesday and Thursday nights will be my chance to dive into the language. Tuesdays are the Intermediate level, Thursday is a "Japanese Seminar" which means the course content will be driven by students' interest.  I'm looking forward to the language learning journey!