All posts tagged: Japanese

Second Language Interference

So far the hardest part about being in France is the language, though not in the way you might expect. Yes, it is frustrating staring at people blankly, not understanding what they are saying, and yes, it is frustrating understanding what other people are saying but not having the vocabulary to respond. Or if I zone out and don’t have the ability to passively pay attention to what is being said. These are all challenges, but they are things I expected in coming to France and not being fluent or even conversational in the language. No, the thing that is the hardest is my second language interference. Now, I have to jump in here and say that after (five minutes of) Googling second language interference, every topic that came up was related to L1 or mother language interference in a second language that is being learned. Having worked with ESL students before, I was familiar with this topic. For example, it is hard for me as a native speaker of English to remember and use …

すごいね、日本語: Hidden Meaning and Translation

先週日本語を勉強したかったのでカフェに行った。これは普通なことだ。今日本語の能力試験のため勉強しているので、毎日ぐらい単語や漢字など少し勉強している。 カフェに行って、教科書を開けて、ちょっと読んで。。。 え? 日本語の会話を分かったけど、英語の翻訳のところを読んで、ちょっと。。。 日本語で、特に話す時に、一つのことを言うけど、他の意味とか他の言語で他の意味がある。 例えば”おじゃまします”という表現は本当に面白いと思う。他人の家に入る時にこの表現を使う。聞いたこともあるし、使ったこともあるし、表現の感じを分かるけど、ほんとうの意味あまり分からない。 他人は”よくいらっしゃいました。どうぞおあがりください”とか”いらっしゃいました、どうぞ”を言ったら、その人の家を入りながら、”おじゃまします”で答える。英語でそいう会話を翻訳したら、他人は”Welcome! Please come in!”という感じを言って、家を入りながら、”Thanks for having me”で答えるかもしれない。 でも。 私の教科書で”おじゃまします”の翻訳は”thank you”だけで書いている。でも”ありがとう”という表現と全然違う。

Gaijin in Japan: #whitegirlproblems

I am starting to feel paranoid. Not all the time, mind you, but some of the time I can feel people looking at me. I am about as white as a person gets. My skin tone is so pale I practically glow in the dark and if I stand in the sun for ten minutes I will look like a lobster. My hair is medium brown and curly–even more so in the high humidity of Japan. I wear noticeable earrings on a daily basis, I wear flip flops in the summer no matter what I am wearing, I paint my nails obnoxious shades of dark red, I wear bold colors and sunglasses. I have blue eyes and long eyelashes and wear lots of eye makeup. I sit with my legs crossed and carry a backpack with me some of the time. If you saw me in America you wouldn’t look at me twice because I would blend into the crowd. But in Japan I stick out like a sore thumb…or maybe a parrot or something …

Self Introductions: The Very Necessary Japanese 自己紹介

As I sit here in the IES Tokyo Summer Office–in a room meant to be a bedroom, stuffed with two desks, a printer, and boxes; my superior and I both typing away at our computers as noise from the boys in the common room watching the newest episode of Game of Thrones creeps past the door propped open with a dust pan–I find myself contemplating the Japanese 自己紹介, or self introduction. Of course, anywhere you go when you meet a new person self introductions are necessary. But somehow the Japanese self introduction seems to take the cake for most important, most often used, most formal. In America I would probably stick to “Hi my name is Maddie!” Maybe I would add a little more formality or politeness by saying something like “It is so nice to meet you,” or maybe I would add something like “I am a senior at St. Catherine University majoring in Asian Studies” if I were meeting someone who either knew nothing about me and I was planning to get to …

The Beginning

Oh my god, that was a whirlwind. I thought my transition from finals to Japan was a lot of commotion, but today I went from the most laid back working environment anyone could imagine where everyone knows everyone and all the material is understandable, to being in charge of 9 students–all of whom have taken zero to two years of Japanese–as they arrive in Japan. Even when I first arrived at Narita Airport this morning it had not yet set in that I was truly starting my job today. Students began showing up and soon the little meeting room in terminal 1 was overflowing with students and luggage. With confidence I agreed to be the first RA to bring a group of students to the hotel and check in…and they all looked at me like I had all the answers. I round up my group of ducklings and set off for the trains below Narita. It still takes a minute for me to be sure I am boarding the right train, and even though I …

Learning Japanese in Japan

やっぱり外国語を勉強したら、練習は一番大切だ。 授業で勉強しても、ドラマを見ても、ずっと覚えるわけではない。 アメリカで日本語を勉強したら、たぶん授業中だけで話せる。その後に自分で一所懸命勉強しても、1週間後や学期終わったらたくさんの事を忘れちゃうかもしれない。なぜかというと、練習あまりできないからだ。本を読んでも、音楽を聞いても、自分で新しい文を作らないと覚えないと思う。 アメリカで自分で作文とか書けるけど、正しいか間違いがあるか、あまり分からない。でも、日本で毎日日本語で話さなくちゃいけない。間違ったら、ますぐ分かる。 アメリカで新しい単語や文法を習った場合に、たぶん次のテストが終わるとそんなことを勉強やまよう。たいてい覚えるけど、たぶんもう一回復習しなくちゃいけない。でも日本で新しいことを習って、その日に話しながら話してみる。一日に新しいことを読めるし、書けるし、聞こえるし、自分が作った文で言えるから、もっと早く覚えるかもしれない。