In May 2012 I watched Samurai Champloo and thought, oh, Japan’s a bit interesting. I think I’ll pay attention to it for a bit. But, y’know, not anything serious.
Then in June I was all, oh, yeah, still interested in Japan. Don’t have time to learn a language, but I’ll do a whole bunch of reading *about* Japan. And yeah, okay, maybe I’ll learn hiragana, because that’s kind of an interesting thing to know about and “there’s an app for that“.
In July the planets must have aligned or something, because by the end of the month I was obsessed. Also I spent nearly 3 weeks of it on holiday in the States, so maybe in the free time I had available I decided to take the plunge. I don’t actually know what happened there. But I did start googling ways to go about it and happened upon All Japanese All The Time (if you don’t know about this site go there now and look at it. I’ll wait…oh good, you’re back). Which I thought was a bit over the top…then it started to make sense…before I knew it I was listening to NHK news on my flight back to England and dropping Elizabeths on anime (I don’t think anyone calls British pounds “Elizabeths” but they really, really should).
Fast forward to October. After trying Pimsleur and getting bored, and trying to get kanji into my head by brute force and failing, I am now making my way through Heisig’s Remembering the Kanji. Mentioning this book in a group of Japanese language learners is one of the quickest ways to make people give you a funny look – I guess the controversy is about the fact that you learn the meaning for a kanji in English, and you learn 2046 of them without ever learning a proper word in Japanese. I can understand how if you were planning an imminent trip to Japan you wouldn’t have time for this.
Well, guess what – I do. I can be patient with this and do it thoroughly, so I figure I might as well. When I first started working through the book, writing the kanji, and making up stories to remember them, I was like, oh man, this is going to take for-ev-er. I tried to do as many as I could in a day to make it go quicker. I think I did almost 50 in one day, and it was torture.
Now I’ve settled into a comfortable rhythm of 25 kanji a day. I write each one once, visualise a story about it in my head, then enter it into my flashcard app on my iPod. Then the next day I go over them on my iPod when I’m waiting for the bus. The beauty of that is, when the bus is late, I learn more kanji! It’s a win-win!
The weird thing is, now that I’m about halfway through, I’m really enjoying it! I’ve really made a habit of it, so much so that I think I’ll miss it when it’s over.
But then I’ll be learning sentences, so I’m sure I’ll have my hands full…