Sunday, December 5, 2010

Learning Japanese

I am very lazy! Why do I say this? Because I have lived in Japan for 16 months and my Japanese skills get me only as far as a brief self-introduction and a mental "bowl of words" that I can pull out as needed and combine with gestures, props, and facial expressions to get some point across.

An example - when I need to buy my monthly train commuter pass: I put the old pass on the counter. With my hand swirling over it in a sort of "shopping channel" gesture, I stammer out..."ano...shin...passo...ogikubo/kayabacho...ichi tsuki...kudasai" A new commuter pass is promptly obtained.

Or I go to the au store. Flipping out my cell phone: again, I use a swirly hand gesture over my phone. "uh...keitai...shiharai" They pull up my number, show write down the amount owed, I pay, and mission accomplished.

My friend-boy says "You don't wanted to learn." I feel it is more, "It was not my first priority."
My excuses: the first 7 months living here, I was working long hours at eikaiwa hell/GABA, and had my daughter living here - so free time was spent going to her school her activities, and general mom/daughter/life items.

After she left, my first priority was to find better paying job - which meant hours on interviews, commuting. One of my jobs including a one-way commute of 1 hour, 45 minutes. My days were blown between work and commute time!

Now I have the following to do: full-time job (40 hours per week), private lessons (8 hours per week), my new self run business (8 hours per week). Friends...and friend-boy. Going to the gym. I refuse to give any of it up!

I do welcome ideas on better efficiency, time-management...but as you can see, taking actual sit-down lessons with a teacher - no time! I finish my day job at 7pm, that puts me getting to a lesson around 7:45pm anyway...too late!

I have decided to actually organize my "work" day to allow for study time. Each work day gives me a one hour lunch break, mandatory lunch break!

I want to break up my lunch as follows:

20-30 minutes - Japanese study
15 minutes - update my twitter (business account) and facebook statuses (for family/friend account and business account
15 minutes - an invigorating walk up the stairs to the top of my work building, and back down to ground floor. Get the brain working. Probably should move this to the first activity during lunch!

Here are the sources for my self-study material.

NHK Let's Learn Japanese
- This series has two seasons. First season was made in 1984 and has 26 lessons/episodes. Second season was made in 1995 and has 26 lessons also. All the video lessons can be found on VEOH and YouTube. The textbook can be found on a variety of bittorrent places - although, I now have them downloaded, and can send it to you as an email attachment, should you, the gentle reader, want a copy.

Textfugu - This is a site written by Koichi of Tofugu fame. The site has lessons, videos, cheat sheets. Basically, the first few lessons are free for all, then you can convert to paid subscription to continue to higher levels. With my current level, it will be quite a while before I need the paid levels.


  1. Don't you get a paper bill that you can just take into Japan post for your phone? That's what I got. Maybe it's only yr first bill? Who knows?

    Even with studying, I just string a bunch of verbs and nouns together when I actually talk. Who has time to work out exact phrasing and levels of politeness. I swear my Japanese was heaps better before I came here to study.

  2. Sometimes I receive the bill with the special bar-code that I take to a nearby convenience store and pay. When I have that, I do not need to speak - just smack that bad-boy down on the counter!

    Sometimes I do not get it....or rather....the bill will say "due date XX/XX" and unlike back home, where due date is merely a suggestion, they will not take the payment using the special bar-coded bill at the 7-11, and I have to go to the au store.

    Of course, I rarely have the bill on me when I hoof it over there!