I don’t spend that much time thinking about Japanese. It’s just my life, you know? But I have my moments. Lately i’ve been having a lot of them, with the start of the new semester.
Some notable moments:
- it turns out that some scholarships require Chinese/Korean students to have over 170points on their N1, whereas other foreigners only need 100 to qualify.
- When I got here, no one ever asked me about my score on N1 for admission. It wasn’t a problem that I was self-taught. It wasn’t a problem that my application was full of mistakes and my conversation skills were non-existent, it was deemed sufficient. Apparently, that was only the case for me, as Chinese students go through rigorous examination and unless they are very fluent, have high scores on their N1, and tutors are asked to keep an eye out for their real level. Not being from a Japanese language background nad not having exchange experience is reason to not get accepted.
- I haven’t studied Japanese since I got here, but my Chinese friends have.
- Chinese colleagues who were at the same level as me when we got admitted have improved tremendously because of this, whereas my Japanese is still kind of shite.
- I am never expected to write or speak perfectly. My asian friends are.
- I get many compliments and positive feedback formy Japanese. my asian friends don’t.
- My kouhai (Chinese) had one mistake on her N1 and is mad about not having a perfect score, so she is taking it again. She has been living here for less than 6 months and speaks perfectly. I will probably never be at her level. yet, she wants to improve. I haven’t thought about the N1 since I passed it.
- I was talking to a friend about maybe studying kanji together, since we are in the same situation (living here for years, functionally fluent, in Japanese language PhDs, can’t write for shite.) We are now trying hard to study together, and maybe take a low level kanken this year. We are not even thinking about aiming past level 2, and are currently barely passing practice tests for level 5.
- When I write things down at baito, I am getting icnreasingly self-conscious when I use hiragana for common words because I never practice writing.
- I have been praising my kohai’s to butter them up to my advisor, and mentioned that I barely passed the N1. My senpai turned to me and smilingly said だろう？This was 5 years ago before I moved here, don’t be a prick. But they believe that.
- In my head, I am still the self-taught beginner who barely passed the N1, even though obviously I have improved tremendously since.
So yeah, I have been thinking about it. It’s weird how Chinese learners are thrown under the bus like this, even though the ones who ‘easily’ pass the exams are those who spent 4-10 years vigorously studying the language, went to top programmes, invested money in exchange programmes and so on. And yet non-east asians are thrown every bone for the least effort. Maybe that’s why we never really improve.
I’m thinking of taking te N1 this year to see where I am at now. I won’t study for it, because I want to see. Though it has been many years since I have sat down for a test.
Lately I realised that anki is an app and I have a smartphone now, so I installed it and am doing reps again. it feels weird. I7ve been doing reps in chinese, spanish, german and whatever language I feel like learning for a bit, but Japanese feels so foreign to me now, as a study target. I feel the improvement immediately and wonder why I neglected it for so long. The excuse that you don’t see those kanjis is a fraud, you see them and just glance past them. I opened up my old dictionary deck and ran into 3 of those ‘low frequency words’ in a single day. I wrote down some kanjis in random orders and ran into them the next day. I had to write an e-mail and once again I had a friend native check it cause I am still so insecure about my keigo, even after so many hundreds of keigo e-mails that I have written. I had my friend native check a presentation and, as usual, I had aboutone mistake per sentence. Not bad ones. Fewer than before. But they are still there, in my everyday life, defining how I am seen in the eyes of other.
I will never be happy with languages, and I shouldn’t be happy with Japanese. I just hope I won’t end up hating it like I hate English…