I’ve been studying Japanese for about five months now so I thought I’d give a little update on my progress. The first few months were really easy, as everything I learned was very basic and pretty much just an introduction to the language. However, things have started getting a little difficult, and unfortunately, my dyslexia has not been helpful with trying to remember all the little grammar rules and such.
I know about 150 kanji now, and while I don’t think I’ve really mastered any of those just yet, I know most of them well enough to write them, read them, and know what they mean all from memory. I’m pretty pleased with that achievement even when 150 is hardly a fraction of the 2200~ or so kanji that need to be mastered in order to be fluent in Japanese (at least for reading and writing). I think my reading and writing is still really strong, even if I’m struggling with some aspects of the grammar because my kanji vocab is currently a little larger than it needs to be for my current progress through my Japanese university courses.
While I’m struggling a little bit with the speaking and listening aspects still, this is mostly because of my issues with mastering the grammar rules that we’ve been learning in class. I’m not sure that there’s really an equivalent to it in English, but in Japanese, generally speaking, the longer the tenses and conjugations of the words your speaking or writing, the politer you are being. Polite (long form) Japanese is what we’ve been learning first because if you use anything else, you run the risk of offending someone, which you don’t really want to do. Some words in this form end up being a bit of a mouthful… such as “yoroshikuonegaishimasu” which is more or less said in one breath. But despite the tenses being long, they’re pretty easy to remember and use, so it generally ended up not being a problem.
The issue, for me, has come with the casual form, which we’ve started learning over the last three or so weeks. This new form ends up cutting a lot from words and phrases that I’ve previously learned, which ends up making them shorter and therefore less polite. You’d think that would make it easier to remember– and I thought so too at first– but it’s ended up being really tricky because you need to combine a bunch of things together to get different forms of the casual tense (such as negative and past, etc).
This can be really tricky because 90% of the verbs we’ve learned conjugate different from one another, so that’s another eight forms of each verb that we need to know, or at least remember the rules for, in order to talk or write in this new form. That’s without mentioning that in Japanese, adjectives are also conjugated, so eight different forms for the two different adjective types need to be remembered as well.
Overall I think I’m doing alright, but I’ve been a little stressed about it and I don’t remember things as well when I’m stressed, so that’s made it a little harder. But I’m slowly figuring it out, and I’m working on it every day, so I’m sure it’ll work out. 🙂