Do you 日本語?

In middle school, I never had the drive to learn Spanish; so naturally this carried on into high school.

There were only three foreign language classes available at the high school I attended, but I was glad that Spanish wasn’t the only option. The other two options were French and Japanese. I didn’t enjoy the sounds that people had to iterate in French, so I opted for Japanese – especially since I would be given the opportunity to read and write a new language to top everything off! It wasn’t until I was given the opportunity to learn and study Japanese did I find my calling.

There was something about the challenge of reading and writing another language that enthused me, while in the process of learning how to speak it. The vowels were familiar to what I had learned in Spanish and the consonants were fairly similar to the sounds we made. To top it off I had one of the most influential teachers in my life, Junko Mura Sensei.

I like to consider myself a visual learner, but in this case I needed to adapt my senses into listening more-than seeing. Be rest-assured I was very new to this language and was pretty rusty at pronunciations, but it was through interacting with my sensei and her assistant, did I become better at articulating my words. Of course, I was a nerd and joined the Anime Club because they had other Japanese students and (some that were better than me, and others learning for the sake of anime). The only catch was that even though some of the higher-level Japanese students couldn’t articulate the words the same way I could.

Don’t get my wrong. I’m not trying to be cocky, but I’m constantly being complimented on how fluently I can speak Japanese; without sounding foreign (even though I don’t look Japanese).

Naturally, today when I met with one of the Japanese professors here at Clark, to discuss where I could be placed she complimented my ability to speak. For the first 10-15 minutes upon meeting each other she spoke NOTHING but Japanese the entire time. I was able to understand the majority of what she was saying and responded back in English for the majority of our conversation. There were however a few areas where she seemingly talked a little too fast, or I just completely didn’t understand what she asked of me, so I informed her.

In the end, she told me that if I was to enter a Japanese class at Clark, she would recommend placing me into Japanese 221. This was definitely a shock to me, especially since Japanese 223 is one of the highest levels of Japanese they teach at Clark! The only stipulation however, is that I would be required to take a placement test before entering a 200-level Japanese course. I don’t necessarily consider this to be a bad thing however, I truly believe I’m pretty rusty; especially when it comes to classroom-Japanese. I told her this of course, and she recommended that I visit with some Japanese tutors before taking the placement exam. It should be fairly entertaining to see what happens.

Anyway, that’s all I really have at the moment. I actually found my Japanese textbooks from the classes I took at UMUC in Okinawa, so hopefully this can help me brush-up on some of my Japanese. It’s practically a requirement to know/learn another language for International Studies/Relations, so I’m hoping to be able to complete this before transferring to another University.