Language Tag

I feel like I had been so far away from this blogging world when the truth is I’ve been so confused about work and life in general that I never had the time or the energy to write or read from my favourite bloggers. I feel like I’ve committed a sin! ><

Recently Hannah wrote a post answering questions about her interest and experiences in learning new languages. It was such a pleasure to know more about Hanna and her journey. She tagged me in the post and now I’d like to talk about my own journey with Japanese.

So here goes.

What would you consider your native language?

Even though I go around telling others that my mother-tongue is Konkani, I honestly don’t believe in it. Why? Because I suck at it. The first language I ever learnt as a kid was Marathi. It’s spoken in the state of Maharashtra. But since my parents had moved there post my birth and were originally from a coastal town called Mangalore, which is in the state of Karnataka, my mother tongue was naturally assumed to be Konkani. It was the second language I had learnt after Marathi.

Around the same time, I was also exposed to English and Hindi, English being the medium of instruction in school and Hindi being the official language of India. As a result of this potpurri, my version of Konkani become flawed. A sentence in Konkani would contain words from Marathi, Hindi, English and bits of what I thought were Konkani words. As a result, my cousins never understood what I was trying to say to them. Eventually, they too got used to my Konkani but I was always embarrassed.

Things got worse when I moved back to Mangalore. But that’s a story for another time.

What was your first language learning experience?

While Marathi was something that was taught in the schools of Maharashtra, Kannada was the language that was widely spoken and taught in Karnataka. I had to start from scratch for this one. I studied the alphabet, the vocabulary, the lessons that were beyond my skill level and somehow did exceptionally well in my board exams.

Even though I can write and read in Kannada, I can’t speak it. I never tried to.

What languages have you studied and why did you learn them?

In the 11th and 12th grade, I had the opportunity to learn French. I chose it because it was either that or Sanskrit and there was no way in hell I was learning that language.

I was taught in a classroom setting with a textbook and a teacher. I picked up the language very fast. But I wasn’t happy with my progress. The teacher never once emphasized on using correct pronunciations. She did a lot of tongue rolling and buzzing, but it wasn’t French. French sounds beautiful and we were nowhere close to speaking that way.

I have not touched French ever since I graduated.

(Note: As you can see, I’ve been exposed to a lot of languages. India is like that. Unfortunately, I’m one of those people who does not put in the effort to learn the regional languages and therefore finds it uncomfortable to move around within the country. I do, however, applaud the people who have the knack of making any place home.

Living in India has definitely driven me crazy. Japanese is my only salvation.)

How does your personality affect your language learning?

Thanks to Japanese, I’ve discovered a lot about myself. While I give up on things quite easily, I have never wanted to give up on this language. I find myself working hard at it. It’s made me disciplined and my parents and friends, though they do not understand my obsession, are impressed with my diligence. I like what I have and have become because of this language. And I’m hoping to have some amazing experiences in the future as well.

Do you prefer learning a language in a class or on your own?

Definitely, on my own. I can study from books and from the articles that are oh, so freely available online because I’m sure I can make time for it almost everyday. The only thing that I would like right now is to practice speaking Japanese with someone on a daily basis.

What are your favourite language learning materials?

Manga and tweets. I find them all on Tumblr.

Grammar textbooks, because they give my studies a structure.

How much time do you learn a language per day?

Sometimes 30 minutes- 1 hour. Sometimes more than that. These days that would include watching anime and dramas.

What are your short-term and long-term language goals?

Short term goals

  • Become comfortable with speaking in Japanese by the end of 2016
  • Pass N3 JLPT
  • Learn to read Kanji properly without thinking ‘blah blah blah’ every time I come across them.

Long term goals

  • Become fluent in Japanese. That would include having conversations in both daily and business settings comfortably.

What is your favourite language?


What is the next language you want to learn?

Korean and then Chinese.

What advice could you give new language learners?

Speak the language! It is so important to be able to do that. If you want to connect with people and travel to your favourite destinations, learn how to hold a conversation in your target language. It will make you so, so happy.


And, that’s a wrap!

I’d like to tag a few bloggers and I hope they take part.

Dedicated Polyglot

Kaito Monogatari

Koen Speaks


7 thoughts on “Language Tag

  1. I had no idea that there were so many languages spoken in India. That’s so cool (but also I can see how it would be pretty frustrating…)

    “Learn to read Kanji properly without thinking ‘blah blah blah’ every time I come across them.”
    As someone who has studied Japanese on and off for years, this feeling has never left me lol

  2. As someone interested in language – and languages – I’m ashamed to say I never heard of Konkani until today. But every day that you learn something new is a good day.

    I think your advice, as always, is spot on and chimes with my own experience. It’s amazing how learning Japanese not only requires discipline, but also makes you more disciplined. And I know exactly what you mean about seeing kanji and thinking “blah blah blah”. It’s really funny because that’s exactly what happens when I see kanji; then sometimes I realise, hang on, I can read that!

    Now it’s time to do my Anki study!

    1. Haha, Konkani is spoken by a very small group of people who live in Mangalore and Goa. And even then, the Konkani differs from community to community. So it’s natural that many people wouldn’t know about it.

      As for Kanji, I’m so ashamed to have noticed my problem only now. I need to put a little more effort into learning them.

      Thanks for reading and commenting on my post! Good luck with your studies!

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