DISCLAIMER: I got one of the Cafetalk monitoring positions. I get five free online lessons over the course of the month of November, and, in return, all I have to do is rate the lessons and post it to their social media group. I figured I might as well go whole hog and do a serious write up here. (By the way, as of this writing, they are still taking applications for monitoring positions. If you want some free lessons, now’s your chance.)
A day ago I had a 15 minute level check. Today I had my first real lesson with Makisan – a 25 minute beginner lesson, and it was great. Let’s face it, even if you like studying, even if you are studying a topic that interests you, it can get dull sometimes, and these skype lessons are livening things up for me. It was fun.
I was actually nervous for the level check, but I wasn’t nervous at all today. She had given me some written material to look at, and, since it was only yesterday, I had only worked on the first page, but we went over that, and then she asked me some questions about my hobbies.
Haltingly, I made my way through that, and we talked about cycling for a little bit and then moved on to music. She used Japanese, switching to English only when she had to so that I could understand her. I used Japanese when I could and English when I had to (which was really a lot, to be honest).
That all sounds very casual, and it was. It may also sound like it wasn’t really a lesson, but it definitely was a lesson. I learned how to talk about doing things at a certain time (or starting at a certain time) and how to talk about doing something 1 time a week or 2 times a week…all very useful stuff and nicely and clearly explained. We also went into telling time and tossed in quite a lot of vocabulary.
During the course of the lesson, she typed various things into the skype chatbox so that I could read them. After the lesson, I discovered that she had taken everything that she had typed and gathered it together into a single message which she then sent to my Cafetalk mailbox – which was really great, since it meant that I had all of that in one place and could easily drop it into Open Office (or whatever word processor I wanted). She also gave me an assignment for the next lesson – words to learn. Homework! Hooray! (That is NOT sarcasm, by the way. I’m glad to have it. As I have said before, my studies need some organization, and now they are getting it.)
The lesson was fun and informative. What more can you ask?
It did certainly expose my weaknesses with the language – there are so many words and grammatical structures that I don’t know yet! There were words that were in my head somewhere but simply wouldn’t come out at all or would only peek shyly out, so I could remember the first syllable and that was it. Trying to communicate in a language that you don’t know well can be frustrating, but making the attempt is invaluable experience.