Do you know what’s easy? Falling behind in your studies. I’m thinking about this because tomorrow is my Cafetalk lesson with Makisan, and my homework is sitting in front of me undone. (私の宿題が終わっていません。）This is not a tragedy. My wife is on night shift this month, so I’ll sit around and do my homework this evening, and I have studied the vocabulary and looked over the homework to make sure that I understand it, but it really ought to be done already. (On the plus side, I was ready with the sentence私の宿題が終わっていません which uses the grammatical form that is the topic of both the current and the previous chapter, so I guess that shows something good, right?)
I think that this is why it is so hard to learn a language on your own. If you have a scheduled class (even if it is only once a week) and tasks that you are expected to accomplish in preparation for that class, it provides a little outside motivation to keep you on track.
Do I wish that Cafetalk was free? Well, yeah. But, is Cafetalk worth the money? Definitely. For me, the simple proof is that I’m learning.
I have been looking for reading practice, but it’s really hard to find anything, so I have decided to bite the bullet and finally tackle Yotsubato!
Here’s a sample frame:
Yeah, I can’t read that. If you can, I envy you, but I’ll get there. I have the feeling that it is a little slangy in places, and I can see that it makes use of the informal verb tenses, which I haven’t actually learned yet, but I guess I”m about to get a crash course.
The feature of Yotsubato! (yes, the ! is actually part of the name) that some people like and some people hate is the furigana. (Little hiragana that give you the reading of the Kanji). Some people feel like they act like a crutch and slow down your learning. Other people feel like they help stop your frustration level from rising so high that the top of your head explodes.
My personal feeling is that I am going to attempt to read Yotsubato! and that the furigana will be helpful to me at this stage of my learning.
Now, in fact, looking at the above panel, I can actually make sense our of it. I am not getting every single word, but I think that I am getting the gist of it. We’ll see. I sent Makisan the first few pages and told her that I would like to work on it (continuing with みんなの日本語, of course – a structured introduction to grammar is too valuable a thing to let it go) and she was agreeable, so that’s what we’re going to do, and that starts tomorrow.
I chose Yotsubato! (are you tired of the ! yet?) because, aside from having furigana, it is basically a slice of every day life, so I think that the Japanese will be common phrases rather than discussions about how the hyperdrive is malfunctioning so the warp field can’t be generated and the space pirates are going to capture our heroes with a tractor beam, which is all fine and dandy (though not for our heroes, I suppose) but not terribly useful in day to day conversation.
Time to take a deep breath and dive in.
Wish me luck!