Yeah. Japanese in every day life. I can’t do that.
You see, the problem is that I am not surrounded by Japanese speakers. Now, if I wanted to practice English or Spanish. Tagalog, Vietnamese or Cantonese, I could find people to speak with. Japanese – not so much.
But using it is important. The more lessons I have on Cafetalk, the more it is brought home to me that, the more you use Japanese, the faster you learn Japanese.
Not a blinding revelation, I know, but one that is often missed by language learners.
We sit happily at home listening to our cds or using our software or reading our books and study hard and hope that we absorb the language, but ability to look at a list of verbs and fill out a conjugation chart does not necessarily translate to the ability to make sentences on the fly.
No matter what your native language is, you have the ability in that language to make sentences that you have never heard or spoken before. Let me demonstrate.
The elephant sat on top of the spiderweb and threw over ripe plantains at the attacking horde of zombie caterpillars.
I think that I am safe in saying that I have never heard, read or spoken that sentence ever before in my life, but I can make that sentence.
But I’m working on it.
Well, I’m not working on that particular sentence as such but on the ability to make sentences. How? Well, by making them. Even if I don’t say them out loud (and sometimes I do, which gets me some pretty strange looks I can tell you) I try to respond to what is going on around me in Japanese.
And, much to my surprise, sometimes I can.
例えば (for example), last night my wife and I were discussing our plans for today, and they included meeting at the phone store with our daughter, after which my wife and daughter would go out shopping, a fate that I didn’t not want to be trapped in to. (Stay with me. This little autobiographical effort is leading toward some Japanese. I promise.)
So, my idea was that I would take my car and meet them there. Then it suddenly struck me that I could actually say, “Eunice and Betty Sue (names have been changed to protect the innocent), you will take Eunice’s car to the phone store, and I will take my car. Then I can go home.”
Now, I’m not going to say that my sentence was exactly perfect or the best way to say it, but I think that it would have gotten the meaning across if my wife knew Japanese.
Here’s what I came up with:
Eunice と Betty Sueは Eunice の車で 電話店へ 行きます そして 私は私の車で行きます。それから家へ帰ります。
I like to toss my little efforts at Japanese composition out there warts and all for the world to see because it helps me get over any reluctance I might have at using the language in front of other people.
I will admit that I was rather proud of that little effort. I even tried it out loud, which got me an “Uh-huh,” from my wife, who was busy reading a book and has kind of gotten used to my spouting what seems like random nonsense to her.
So, whether you say them out loud or not, try to respond to what’s going on around you. In my case, this particular situation was almost made to order, since I was studying へ and で and going places and means of transport.
Even if you only know a little Japanese at this point, find a way to use it, at least in your head, though out loud is better. Don’t worry. The funny looks won’t actually hurt you.