LEARNING Japanese: different motivations, same passion and one motto, GAMBARIMASU!
“Watashi wa Ruth desu”. Oh the sweet sound of this first sentence that opened my horizons to an exciting and exotic language…If only I knew how far this linguistic journey would bring me. Eight years later, counting the number of hours I spent on my Japanese textbooks and the few kanjis I memorized, I look back with no regrets on any of the challenges. Stepping back into a beginner’s classroom was a great opportunity for me to learn about the new students aspirations and review the basics I’d sadly forgotten.
PC Tech School offers the ideal setting to start a language as demanding as Japanese: classes on the weekends to accommodate a busy work schedule, classroom fully equipped with video and audio sets, students limited to five per class to enhance the learning curve and be attentive to each student.
“Sensei” (teacher) focuses on the musicality of the language
by repeating the words at a natural pace.
The lesson, conducted by a Japanese native speaker, starts by reviewing the vocabulary accumulated over the past weeks. “To eat”… ”tabemasu”, “Good morning”… “ohayou gozaimasu”, “drawer”… drawer? How can I forget drawer! “Drawer”… “HIKIDASHI”! It was probably stuck in a rusty drawer in my brain! This repeating method allows the words to anchor in the brain and is proven to be one of the most effective methods of learning a language. Always patient, “Sensei” (teacher) takes the time to review each blurry topic and moves on only when it is cleared.
The combination of two textbooks, “Japanese for busy people” Vol. I and “Instant Immersion Japanese Workbook”, respectively focusing on grammar and situational examples, teaches the minimum amount of Japanese needed to live in Japan and handle everyday situations; talking politics may still be a little far away, but at least you could order food in a restaurant, go to the post-office and buy stamps, or talk about your hobbies with your friends.
As I talk with the students during the break, I realize that their present aspirations are not very different than my past ones. Unlike Jonel or Stanislaw, I had no specific interest in anime or mangas (surprisingly, this cute boy with crazy hair throwing balls of lights to single-eyed aliens never appealed to me) but I can relate to their motivation in wanting to access their favorite character in its original version, no subtitles needed!
The textbook, “Japanese Language for busy people” Vol. I,
emphases on words and sentence patterns that the student will find immediately useful.
Most of the young students intend to go to Japan and pursue their graduate education. Their introduction to Japanese language beforehand will be an invaluable asset to navigate the country the first few months and will certainly attenuate the unavoidable cultural missteps: like wandering into a supermarket looking for oil, finally buying a bottle of unidentified substance and frying your sunny-side up eggs in a light bath of vinegar… (Tale of my first homemade breakfast in Japan…)
The Japanese language is so rich in subtleties and nuances that I feel I could never fully master its complexity. But the point is not to speak a perfect Japanese or know how to write 2000 kanjis (by the way, only 500 are said to be necessary to read a newspaper!), the real purpose of diving into a foreign language is more a matter of human relationship than grammatical patterns. My grammar mistakes will soon be forgotten (I hope!), but the people I met both in Tokyo and New York, who shared the same passion for learning and exploring cultures, will remain dear friends tied to my memories.
——– Reported by Ruth Berdah-Canet
317 Madison Ave #800, New York, NY 10017
TEL: 212-808-4754 / www.getinyc.com
*PC TECH, located right next to Grand Central Station, offers Japanese class on Saturdays. Their tuition is quite affordable; the fee for the 12-week program costs $620, and is now on $100 discount campaign. The new semester will start on January 10th. For registration, go to website: www.getitnyc.com/japanese-class.htm.
Also, PC Tech has a Japanese school in Japan called “NILS.” This allows PC Tech students to continue further language education. For more information about NILS, go to website http://www.nils.gr.jp/index.htm.