Back in 2017, I visited Japan for the first time. Japan was definitely at the top of the list of countries I want to go to for so long. So when I learned that there would be a month-long training by JICA in Japan, I tried my luck and got in! That trip made me appreciate Nihongo on another level. I loved hearing the train announcements, the greetings from convenience store workers, even the elevator announcing what floor are we in. But most importantly, I admired Nihongo more because we were guided every day by our Nihongo-English interpreters—Junko-san and Kaori-san. I was always in awe listening to them translate. During our breaks, I would even ask them to translate phrases for me, and they would also teach us Japanese slangs. My favorite was めっちゃ (metcha) which means “very / a lot”.
I tried self-studying Japanese after that trip. I downloaded the free version of the Duolingo app and would do some exercises. I felt that my learning at this time was very shallow. I didn’t feel like I’m absorbing these words I’m hearing. However, during a trip back to Japan in 2018 with my parents, I was able to somehow spew some Nihongo when we stumbled upon a restaurant with no English menu. I wish I could say it made me motivated to study harder, but it didn’t. I still wasn’t committing to learning Nihongo at that time.
Sometime in 2019, I realized that I should enroll in a class. I felt like I’m just not cut out for self-studying Nihongo at this point. So I went to UP Diliman and registered in the Linguistics department. Come enrollment, I didn’t push through. I realized I might not be able to commit to attending classes regularly since I had to commute to UP. But then the pandemic happened, and the department started offering their classes online. There’s no excuse for me anymore.Continue reading “How I started learning Japanese”