Cafetalk Lesson #4

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. I figured I might as well go whole hog and do a serious write up here.

Another lesson with Makisan on Cafetalk. I don’t want to exaggerate here, but I can really feel my Japanese getting better and better. I’m learning vocabulary and grammar, my accent is getting better, my ability to respond to questions is getting better.

The two most helpful resources I’ve found for learning Japanese are unquestionably the Hacking Japanese Supercourse and Cafetalk.

The lesson began with a little conversation, 日本語で of course. Then we get down to the テキスト (textbook). In my case, since I was really weak on katakana (カタカナ) a few days ago, she wrote some words in katakana on a board and had me read them to demonstrate that, after a couple of days of study, I was good.  This was really interesting, since good with typed characters on a computer screen is one thing and good with handwritten characters is another thing!

Today’s lesson was Chapters 4 and 5 (四課と五課) in みんなの日本語. We didn’t quite finish 五課, so next week will be 五課と六課.

My tutor, of course, corrects my answers to the homework problems and answers my questions, but the really interesting/frustrating/excellent/hard thing is the way she expands on the homework. For example, today there was a question about when the bank is open. One of the big themes was から・まで…you know, it is open from 9 until three – 9から 3まで…I answer the question (or, rather, read the answer which I had previously written out) and am feeling quite pleased with myself, and then she asks me a question like, “What hours do you work today?” and I have to figure out how to answer that question on the spur of the moment.  (I case you’re wondering, my answer, which was correct, was preceded by Hmmm…um….hmm…).  There was also a section where I was reading dates, and she suddenly asked me today’s date, and, wouldn’t you know it, it was one of the funny ones. Today is the 20th, which is はつか. (I have to admit that I was pleased with myself for remembering that one.)

By the way, マクドナルド, which is one of the words my tutor used to test my katakana reading ability, and which, if you don’t recognize it, is the Japanese version of the name of an American fast food place, is really hard to say. That one took me several tries to get right.

五課 is all about particles:  へ, で, と, に. Particles are one of the most interesting/fun/frustrating points about Japanese. My tutor then had me departing from the assigned homework and making sentences with multiple particles.

例えば (for example) Where are you going and how are you going to get there? I am going to the school by car. 学校へ車で行きます- へ and で in the same sentence, which didn’t happen in the homework.

My conversation is getting better. You know, it’s still ragged and slow, but more and more Japanese is gradually creeping in, thanks to these lessons. I have only had a handful of Cafetalk lessons so far, but I can honestly say that, without them, I would know quite a bit less Japanese than I do.

I live in a moderately sized somewhat rural town in the U.S., and I get to have a face to face lesson with a teacher who is a native Japanese speaker and who is in Japan.  How cool is that?

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