I passed JLPT!

I’m sorry I haven’t been updating my blog these past two weeks. Busy weekends and lazy weekdays got the better of me and no I haven’t made a mistake describing my week there. My weekends have been taken over by language classes where I’m trying to help out fellow Japanese learners get ready for the N5 in December and my weekdays have been plagued with unsatisfying work. This had taken a toll on my Japanese and while I did keep in touch with the language, I had nothing new to offer to the blog.

And so, today, I wanted to announce something that had been long pending. I have finally passed the JLPT! I now have a N3 level certification in Japanese that shows the progress I have made since I first started out five years ago. It was surreal reading “Passed” on my report and it took me a moment to realize what it meant. It meant that I could finally show my mom that I hadn’t been wasting my time. With this exam, I had opened up a treasure trove of opportunities that could possibly help change the direction in which my life was heading if I so wanted it.

Of course, this also meant that I had a long way to go and I was nowhere close to being fluent in the language. However, with this result I know that it is a possibility. This is definitely an accomplishment that I’m proud of and I hope to God, there’s more to come.



My first class as a Japanese Language Teacher

I had mentioned a few weeks ago about my wish to teach Japanese. The idea was born out of two things

  1. This blog which documents my journey as a self-learner
  2. My need to stay connected with the language

Around two weeks back, I had reached out to the language institute I had attended for Japanese lessons in search for a weekend teaching gig. I had some experience teaching random subjects to 15-17 year olds back when I was at university and thought teaching a language would be the same. The institute got back to me asking me to do a couple of demo sessions post which they would decide whether to hire me or not.

Last Sunday was my first class at the institute. I had before me 10 adults, some older than I, most with no knowledge of what Japanese sounded like. I began my class with basic vocabulary like ご挨拶 before introducing Hiragana. The entire session went on for four hours and by the end of it, we were all tired.

I remember the time I had been the student. The four long hours were difficult. But I kept going back because Japanese was my world. The others, however, did not have that motivation. The class that began with a strength of 10 people quickly reduced to a mere four or five. I had learnt then that not everyone loved the language as I did.

After my class, a few concerned students reached out to me hoping I would provide them a magic pill to quickly turn them into masters of the language. Truth be told, I was annoyed that they hadn’t done their research before coming. But I sent them off with a few words of encouragement, hoping they’d  put in the time and effort learning a language needed.

While the students do their bit, I, as a teacher need to do mine. A major fear that I face is not knowing how to answer a student’s query. The fear that my own basics might not be so strong as I’d hoped creeps up time and time again. However, I’ve been told by my friend, an aspiring teacher of science, that this fear is common and that there’s nothing wrong with it.

I hope that my students and I overcome our challenges during the course of the next few months. Teaching Japanese is a totally new experience for me. It is certainly challenging, but there is a lot to learn here – about myself, about handling people, about teaching and learning a language.

It’s time to prepare for my next session. Lets go!


When you go two weeks without learning

Japanese is an important part of my life. The day I began learning my first Hiragana characters was the day I became a different person. I began living my life with a discipline that surprises me even now. Thanks to Japanese, learning has become a way of life.

So you can imagine how distraught I feel that I haven’t studied anything since July 3rd, the day JLPT was held. A lot of things have happened in the past few weeks and the whole thing has been building over to such a point that I feel mentally tired every day I come back home from work.

I’m at a point where I’m thinking about a lot of things – a job change, skill development, extra-curricular club responsibilities to name a few and while all this activity is keeping me on my toes, I’d like to have a breather once in a while where I don’t have to think about anything else but Japanese.

The challenge I see before myself is to use my time and energy wisely. I usually function well when I set aside chunks of my time for different activities. For example, I would study Japanese for 1-2 hours straight without anything else distracting me. But now, this might not work out so well for me.

What I need now is a way to ensure I get some studying done even when there are a lot of other things happening on the same day. I need to get a little smarter and creative with how I learn languages.While I haven’t yet figured out how I’m going to do this, I have to get back into studying again. Two weeks has been a pretty long time and I hope I haven’t forgotten anything.

Preparing for JLPT exams

This is definitely not going to be a long post about how I’ve been studying for the JLPT exam which is right around the corner. To tell you the truth, I’m just as lost as I was last year. I still haven’t figured out a routine for myself and my studies have been all over the place. So while I feel I’ve studied a lot in the past few weeks, from various resources on the internet, I am not sure of how prepared I am for the exam.

With only two weeks to go, I feel I’m going to continue studying the way I have while using this N3 grammar list to anchor myself. I am always curious to know how others are doing and what techniques they have used to prepare for such exams. All the best to all those who are attempting JLPT this time. May you pass with flying colours.


Thoughts on teaching Japanese

The past few days at work have been challenging. ‘The outside world is going to be rough, so toughen up’ is a common saying that most students are familiar with. However, I could never bring myself to believe them. I joined an organisation in January as an intern and graduated to a full time employee last month. The work was challenging as I was constantly pushed out of my comfort zone. As a result, I’ve learnt quite a lot of things about myself.

But now, with almost 6 months in, I’m still uncomfortable and I don’t think that is a good sign. And so, I’ve decided it is time to start looking for a new kind of work, somewhere where I am challenged, but not to the point that I come up mentally drained and unsure of myself. One of the ideas that I’ve been toying with for a while is teaching Japanese. While I’m not qualified to be one right now, I would like start teaching basic level Japanese in Bengaluru or English to non-English speakers living here.

I do not want this to be a full time gig as I’ve other interests as well. Language learning has been an exciting journey for me till date and I would like to share this excitement with others as well. Not to mention, I’d get a chance to develop a stronger foundation in my own studies. Thanks to my Japanese learning friends I’ve come across a few opportunities already. I feel that if things pan out I’d be one step closer to building a life that I’d be happy to live.

The joy of being on the right track

A good way to get yourself back on track, especially in language learning, is to go back to the reason why you started in the first place. It is important to have one because without a goal in mind there is good chance you will drift through weeks and months aimlessly without making any actual progress. Having a definite goal also helps you gauge your strengths and weakness between now and before, giving you the satisfaction of having achieved something and a clear sense of objectives for the future.

I have watched my ‘reasons’ change over time. This year my goal has been to improve my speaking skills in Japanese and also pass the N3 level JLPT exams in July. While the start of the new year and the framing of resolutions provided me the initial momentum for studies, I found myself in a slump last week. I was distracted and did not feel like making use of the time I had for Japanese. That’s when I came across Shanna’s post and heard her speak Korean like a boss.

I was inspired to study again!

Last year I had made the decision to write the N3 in December. I had 6 months to prepare for it. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough. Part of the strategy I used there was to study the hardest stuff first and go back to the easiest. And so I started with N3 and worked my way back to N4. Since I found a lot of references to N4 grammar in my N3 textbook, I thought I was hitting two birds with one stone. But that wasn’t the case.

Thanks to that I now find myself floating in space, neither here not here. To remedy this I have begun anew with an N4 grammar textbook and it’s been such a confidence booster. I can see progress taking place because every grammar point I study can be connected to the conversations I’ve been a part of or the texts I’ve read in the recent past. And this has helped solidify the concept in my mind.

Yay for progress!

With that encouraging bit, I would like to announce that I’m going to try this whole audio blog thing as well. It will be private for now as the objective of this exercise is to practice speaking. I would love to post them up here once I feel I am able to make coherent sentences. This will definitely be a good opportunity to practice all the vocabulary and grammar points I have been studying recently.

P.S. I have to work on the Toastmasters of the Day script for the coming session and I have absolutely no idea where I am going to start. The theme is going to be ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained.’ I am excited to see what I come up with.



How I Keep a Language Notebook


Hi guys! So back in August I read this awesome post from Kerstin over on Fluent Language titled The Miraculous Benefits of Keeping a Language Notebook. I highly recommend you go there and have a quick read if you haven’t already.

You’re back? Good. So after I read this post, it made me think about the way in which I keep a language notebook. I’ve always kept paper notes when I study, but since February I’ve been using specific notebooks for all of my language learning, which is somewhat different to how I’ve done it in the past. When I first started this, I googled a lot of variants of the phrase ‘how to keep a language notebook’ but there’s really not a lot out there about it, and while I know that you should do whatever method works best for you, I wasn’t really sure where to start. (I…

View original post 1,276 more words