After being in Japan for four years and now back in the states for the last year, I really haven't kept up with learning Japanese. Finding a full time job is my highest priority so Japanese really has taken a back seat since I don't need Japanese to live in the states.
Regardless, I've been getting calls from Japanese employment agencies wanting me to be an interpreter for their clients with administrative assistant work as the alternative work. My spoken Japanese was always just above ordering food, and asking for directions while I was in Japan since everyone I met just switched to English any time I opened my mouth to speak Japanese. I ended up forcing my Japanese upon everyone regardless of what they were speaking.
My main question is how do you get back into learning Japanese and having conversations when less than 1% of the people where I currently live are either Japanese or have no interest in learning the language? I'm actually open to relocating to anywhere in the world since I have no commitments to my current city or even the USA.
The other question is why would I bother working for a Japanese company in the states since I'm employable at any company? I've got a 4 year accounting degree with 6 years experience, and 10 years computer experience so my options are wide open. My Japanese is at best a JLPT N4 level. If this was a perfect world, I'd be working at a Japanese company as a staff accountant.
untmdsprt wrote:My main question is how do you get back into learning Japanese and having conversations when less than 1% of the people where I currently live are either Japanese or have no interest in learning the language?
The place I live has a Japanese population of zero and I don't know anybody with even the slightest interest in learning Japanese, so I know what it's like to have to have no-one to practise with and not much in the way of encouragement.
It's hard to say what motivates one to keep studying. I think you have to have a good reason for wanting to learn Japanese in the first place, and by "good reason" I don't mean anything absolute, I mean something that works for you. When you get to the stage where you ask yourself why you're bothering when it's so slow and difficult, it definitely helps to have a reason that works for you, something that you can bring to mind, think over and--hopefully--realise remains true.
Personally I find the JPod101 forums to be a big help with motivation. Without them I think I'd be learning Japanese pretty much entirely on my own. Having somewhere to ask questions when I get stuck is tremendously helpful; occasionally being able to answer questions lets me feel that I must have learned something.
You need to do something interesting. Studying gets a bit tiresome or even unnecessary once you reach a certain level, but if you keep up your exposure after attaining a decent base, you'll continue progressing. The first step would be to aim for N1 and get that out of the way, and then just read and watch things you find entertaining. You can use sites like Shared Talk to find people to talk to. @Skype is an all-Japanese alternative. If you find some good shows/books and make some nice friends, you don't really need any motivation.
As for English in Japan, I only spent a couple of weeks in Tokyo, but none of my friends spoke any English. People seem embarrassed to use English if your Japanese is marginally fluent. Maybe it's a side-effect of the Eikaiwa environment? That said, おばさん seem to much more readily stick to English as far as my Shared Talk experience goes. Age could be another factor.
I've gotten back into studying using the Jpod website to mark off the lessons I've finished. I'm also listening to a lesson to/from work since work is just a bit farther than the lesson length. As far as N1 goes, I'm wanting to reach that eventually. Maybe once I reach N2 I'll have more confidence to apply to Japanese companies.
You're right Javizy about the おばさんs wanting to practice their English. They figured since I'm in my 40s that it would be ok to only speak English to me. They were quickly ignored but it was hard to make other friends because of the age. I do have one good friend that's in her 30s. Country people were actually nicer since they expected me to speak Japanese.
I believe once I get my money problems taken care of and have my own place to live I can really get back into studying. Oh Google+ is a good place to meet new people (Japanese or non) for more practice. I've got well over 200 Japanese people circled on the site and it gives good reading material for a real time experience. Again, there are a lot of "egos" out there that will try to learn Japanese for you. I quickly block these people. Seriously with 1000s of people on the site that only speak English, why do they bother to speak English to me when I post in Japanese?
マイケル, don't you want to aim high? You're capable of learning Japanese just like everyone else.
BTW, I've started learning Korean and have found an excellent Kor-Jap dictionary for my iPhone. Another way to keep studying Japanese.
untmdsprt wrote:マイケル, don't you want to aim high? You're capable of learning Japanese just like everyone else.
You're right, of course; but for those of us accustomed to thinking of, say, learning the kana as being a reasonable first step, Javizy's idea of a first step is ... challenging. I'm guessing the second step is winning the Nobel Prize for Literature for your Japanese poetry
To avoid any misunderstanding, let me admit it: I've taken Javizy's words out of context to have some fun with them. In context, of course, they make perfect sense.
Hi! Wow, interesting topic here (and interesting conversation going on)! Communication online is a good idea! Just watching Japanese TV or movies would be fun too. It's not really a study, but there's a lot you can learn from. I think it depends on what you're interested in. Whatever you want to do can be the target/aim, and there's always a way to get there
Thank you for commenting. A friend of mine told me that Anki http://ankisrs.net has been updated to a new version. It's actually easier to use and organize your study decks. I've found some old smart.fm decks I had and they still have the sentences with audio. Now I get to learn Japanese by dictation again.
I've also found most of my books although I still have a lot in storage. The So-matome books are good since I've been in Japan, so I'm familiar with the topics.
Update: I've started listening to the beginner series and have finished both S3 and S4. Now working on S5 today. My Anki deck is getting cleaned up and have been reviewing more and more words each day. I think I can do about 200 words in one sitting before having to move to something else.
I started watching the Chineseclass videos on Youtube and they're just reinforcing my Japanese. Guess Japanesepod101 is doing its job with the PDFs since I'll automatically blurt out the Japanese instead of the Chinese.
I have set a goal in taking at least the N3 this December. I wonder if Japanese companies will start taking this level as part of their hiring requirement or are they still going to require at least N2?
untmdsprt-san, wow, good for you! Trying JLPT would be always helpful if you want to work for Japanese company or in Japan. Unfortunately, companies that are seeking people with JP language skills usually look for people with quite a high level of knowledge and fluency, and that's why they want at least N2. If the business doesn't require business level of Japanese, then N3 would definitely help you there Who knows, you might end up with much better than N2 holders
Thanks for the kind words Natsuko-san. I've always looked up to you, Sakura-san, and Naomi-san, as the three women to model my Japanese after. It's always fun to listen to you three interact with Peter. There's a lot of lessons I'll put on repeat because I was laughing too hard to catch everything the first time.
I hope everyone is staying warm in safe there in Tokyo. I've seen pictures of all the snow that fell over the weekend.
I've just started out myself after many years of not really giving it any thought, but currently I've found plenty of motivation in watching/listening to a lot of Japanese users and videos on youtube, and since I misunderstood the payment method for premium membership, I defiantly have plenty to help push me forward. Not that I'm angry about it or anything, but hey, I might as well make use of it now that I have it, right?
Anyway, I'm not sure how many people here play video games, but this is where a lot of my appreciation and curiosities about Japan stem from, as I follow a lot of gaming icons from Japan, such as Shigeru Miyamoto, Hideo Kojima, Shinji Mikami, and so many more. Not to mention I had been following Samurai stories, legends, and folklore but it's defiantly gaming where it all started for me. I only bring that up because this is where my story begins....
It was funny, but what got me to take up learning Japanese was Resident Evil Revelations on my 3DS. I noticed that it was one of the few games I had where I was able to choose another language, and luckily the option was for Japanese. At first it started out as a mere curiosity, and I had fun listening to something so alien, even having heard it before, but here I was forcing myself to actually listen and read the Japanese as opposed to relying on dubs or subtitles. All of a sudden these familiar characters became strangers to me, as I no longer felt part of the story...but I knew there was actual conversation going on there, and so I then imagined myself speaking another language in order to place myself back into the story.
Then that's when it hit me, why not try learning something new in my life that could change me in ways nothing else in my life wouldn't be able to?
Why not waste my free time on something more productive. So, only a few weeks in, and I already know a lot more about the language than I would have ever thought possible. It's small bits of knowledge, yeah, but it's knowledge I've never had before, and it's helping me see things differently. Things I never thought that existed or even knew was possible in a language. It's not just trivial information, but full on practical knowledge that I hope helps me learn even more about not just languages, but life itself.
Why just last night, I was watching a Japanese video where friends were playing Resident Evil, and one of the zombie scenes (where he gets up out a bathtub when water is drained), all of a sudden I heard one of the friends say in an amusing way "Ohayo gozaimasu!" Not only did I understand the joke, but I felt so rewarded and confident after that. Now I'm starting to pick up on all the words that I've learned so far left and right when watching something in Japanese, and now I believe I can actually do this. I can defiantly learn a new language!
Anyway, yeah, I typed up so much more than I had planned, but this is my motivation and I just wanted to express that here. This is one of my first two posts on this forum, but I hope to learn so much more, and someday even possibly master the Japanese language.