Monday, February 25, 2013

What's language school like?

I've been away from the blog for a while. But life is moving right along.

 I attend Arc Academy. A Japanese language school in Osaka- Namba. I'm in a level 3 class (level 10 being the highest). Class runs for 3 hours a day 5 days a week.  I usually have at least two hours of homework. The commute takes about 1 hour each way: a 15 minute walk to the train station, 30 minute train ride, and then a 15 minute walk to school.

I have 3 teachers, ( 2 women, 1 man) and our lessons include, kanji (written Japanese), pronunciation, reading, listening, grammar, conversation, essay writing/ speech, and an occasional field trip.  We start each day with a 10 question kanji test, and end each day with a test summarizing the grammatical  material we studied that day. We leave with homework reviewing the concepts studied in the lesson everyday.  Every Friday includes an "achievement test" which covers the previous week's grammatical structure. There are a lot of tests but it has been a good may to measure if I really understand the concepts being taught.  There are also 3 support classes available outside of regular class time if  extra support is needed.

Kanji, and reading classes are most challenging for me, conversation and speech class is most enjoyable.  But I feel like progress is being made in all areas. I am enjoying the learning process and have some amazing teachers! ( Our main teacher's mannerisms and personality remind me of my Japanese host mom.)  Knowing how rare of a chance it is for me, a teacher at an English speaking school, to have one whole semester to focus solely on language learning is a huge encouragement to me. Plus the voices of my former  first grade students saying, "Study hard Ms. Harms" encourage me to 'lean into' the material.

There are  about 15 students in my class. 1 Italian student, 1 Spanish student,  1 Turkish student, 2 Swedes, 2 Taiwanese students, and 8 Chinese students. Some students are studying to get jobs in Japan, others in preparation to enter college or graduate school.  A few have come and gone after a few weeks as they were  only in class for a month before continuing their world travels.

This Friday we have our first field trip. The whole school is going by bus to a neighboring prefecture to visit a ninja village. Should be interesting!

Please pray for:
 Please continue to pray for language study that I would grasp what is taught and find ways to use what I'm learning. Pray that I may be a light for Jesus love among classmates and teachers.

Mi kasa es tu kasa!

When you first came to Japan  . . . 
 What surprised you? 
 What bothered you?
What brought you joy?

 These were the questions that I was given as a topic for my Friday essay class 作文.  Knowing I would be spending a month of Fridays writing, re-writing, memorizing  and then presenting it as a speech I wanted to take care to pick  a theme I could do without getting weary of and might be different from other classmates.  I made a decision to try to choose a topic that could point out the differences and be positive.  Needless to say, limited vocabulary was also an issue. 

I came up with a long list of possible topics. 
 Japanese high tech toilets, the use of space, education systems, grading papers, remote controls for everything, the public transportation system,  religious holidays,  onzens/spas and public baths, seasonal specialties in shops, kitkat varieties,  how to use an escalator,  100¥ shops, fashion, manga, pets as children, kanji, obesity/ body image, use of umbrellas, group verses individual. 

In the end,  I found some topics might be the stuff of  a master's thesis, others fun to blog about but for my essay I decided to write about . . .  Umbrellas!

 It's specific, simple, unique and something I've come to enjoy about Japanese culture. 

In writing my essay I've discovered a new favorite kanji, 傘
'Kasa' is the Japanese word for umbrella and it looks like 4 people= 人
Under an umbrella. Very intuitive and easy to remember!
Mi kasa es tu kasa.  In Spanish this means: my home is your home. But in Japanese class my Spanish classmate says this about Japanese umbrellas. Saying it in Spanish but meaning:  my umbrella is your umbrella.

So I have a few questions for you. 

Do you use an umbrella when it rains? Why, or  why not?
雨が降ったら、傘をさしますか? どうして?
Do you use an umbrella when it snows? Why or why not?
Do you use an umbrella/ parasol when it is a hot, sunny day? Why or why not?

Please tell me how you use umbrellas where you live and why!