JPN 202: The Last Japanese Class?

My Presentation for the Final Oral Exam

Fall 2019 semester has just ended, so has my Japanese class. I feel so sad. JPN 202 might be the last Japanese class that I’d be able to take. I was registered for at least 9 units before; that’s why I could take Japanese classes as an audit and my sponsor still allowed it because we don’t have to pay extra. However, now that I’ve done my comps and defended my dissertation proposal, starting from next semester, I’d only be registered for 1unit dissertation so I would have to pay for any audited classes, and I don’t think my sponsor would pay for it if I register for a Japanese class as an audit because it’s actually not required for my degree. Sigh. But I really want to learn more. Right now I’m just at the intermediate level. I want to advance :'( Well, next semester JPN 301 is not offered and will be offered in Fall 2020. Hopefully the teacher who’s in charge by then will allow me to at least sit in or share the syllabus or class schedule so I can continue learning. Wish me luck.

The teachers. So, this time we had only two teachers, sensei G and sensei H (it’s not initials, I just continue the alphabetical naming from the previous classes). Both Sensei G and Sensei H were new to me because I had never been taught by them before. Sensei G was the main teacher. I loved her. She was really kind and nice. Sensei H was the second teacher. At first, I thought she didn’t like me. At least that’s the first impression I got from her. At the first meeting, as usual, I told them that I would love to audit the class and she said something like the Japanese department doesn’t usually allow auditing. I know she’s just stating the fact, and I also understand the reason behind that policy, i.e. because auditing graduate students usually don’t take it seriously and end up impeding the learning progress of others. But, ugh, I’ve been auditing Japanese classes since the very beginning and I have been responsible enough to come to the classes, do all the quizzes and tests, and all. But maybe she didn’t know it, so, well… Also, probably because that not really nice first impression, I got to feel like she was being really strict with me, like in feedback and all. It made me feel like everything should be perfect and I hated it. Later I found out that she’s like that not only to me but to everyone as well. Also, actually I loved the way she taught. She always gave us some kind of tricks to relate the new lesson (especially in learning new Kanji) to the previous lessons so we could remember and memorize better. Somehow I kinda see myself as a teacher in her. I know I always try to help my students learn and make learning “easier” by giving some tips, tricks, and such strategies. And that’s what she did and I was really thankful for that. But she was a bit too serious. And I am like that too 😐 So I wonder if my students do not actually like me 😐 I mean, at the end I love her, though. And I am really thankful for the way she taught us. I wonder if my students end up feeling the same way about me. Sigh. But anyway, I love both Sensei G and Sensei H. Sensei G was super nice. She excused my absence and let me not to take the quiz when I had to be absent on the day I had to defend my dissertation proposal. She also allowed me to take the final written exam on another day because the scheduled day crashed with mine (it’s another story). But over all, I’m happy to have them as my teachers 🙂

My Chapter Tests

My grades. Actually I’m not really satisfied with my grades. I mean, I’m happy with my grades, they can be considered good and even fall into A category. But it kinda upsets me when I make too many mistakes than before. But, well, I excuse myself because this class might be the most difficult Japanese class that I have ever taken. Still, I wish I could have done better. But Kanji really drives me crazy. I can’t seem to remember them at all. The moment Kanji quiz was over, I started forgetting them because we didn’t really use them anymore, not to mention that we had to learn new Kanjis. It’s frustrating. Sometimes I can read it, but I can’t really write it. Sigh. I wonder if this has to do with technology? Back when I was learning English, I wrote vocabs by hand a lot and it helped me remember. Now I guess I’m too lazy to write the Kanjis by hand. I typed a lot on my phone since I continue using Hello Talk, so at least I know which kanji is correct. But if you ask me to write by hand, uh-uh, I don’t think I can do it. LoL

My Midterm and Final Grades

Extra Credits. As usual, they have Japanese Language Table program and Toduku (Reading Club) for extra credits, neither of which I did. However, now we have discussion board at the end of each chapter. It was fun. We should write about a certain topic using a certain structure that we learned in that chapter and we had to comment on at least two friends’ posts. I guess I wrote too much. LoL

Classmates. I knew most of them because I took the previous classes with them. However, there was this time when I was paired with a guy that didn’t talk much. I really didn’t know what to do. It’s three of us when I got paired with him because there were only few students and the number was odd so it kinda ended up being the three of us for the pairing. I sat in the middle, so I kinda waited for my friends on both sides to start first and then I’d continue. My left partner did fine, but when it came to my right partner’s turn, things got awkward. I wonder if he had a problem. I wanted to ask and see if I could help but I was kinda worried I’d make things worse so I just tried my best not to be too pushy. The thing was, I think he learned more than we did. He knew more words and tried to use them when practicing with us, but we haven’t learned them so we often got confused. Well, sometimes I did use words that we haven’t learned but mostly I used them when I talked to the teachers so I could get feedbcak on whether I used them correctly or incorrectly. I didn’t really use them with my classmates or if I used them I usually also mentioned the English words in case they didn’t know. So I feel bad with my right partner. It made me think that I was the one who made him uncomfortable, or if I was too stupid to understand him, and it’s really frustrating. I wanted to help him if he’s got a problem but it would be too rude to ask or assume that he’s got a problem, so I tried my best to act neutral. I’m not sure if it’s the right thing to do, but, well, I didn’t know what else to do. In addition, there was this guy who was really good. Later I found out that he didn’t take the previous classes; i.e. he kinda jumped and took JPN 202 class. But his Japanese was really great. He often used words that we haven’t learned as well. I thought it was really cool. Also, I talked more with my classmates. We even practiced together for the final presentation. We also used GroupMe app to communicate as a group. (Though now I’ve uninstalled it because I rarely used it 😐✌) I also went shopping with one of them. It made me really happy. I hope somehow we can keep the friendship and do not end up being only as a classmate 🙂

My JCat score.

Others. Usually we made Origami on the cultural day, after we finished all chapters, but this time we didn’t do it. Instead, we learned about Kansai dialect. Sensei G showed us an example of some Japanese advertisements that used Kansai dialect and I really tried hard not to scream because there were so many Japanese celebrities that I knew in the ads: Suda Masaki, Hamabe Minami, Komatsu Nana, Araki Yuko, etc. I was like, “OMG, I know him. I know her.” But I had to play it cool pretending I wasn’t excited when deep inside I was screaming. LoL In addition, we were asked to the JCat test. It was like a JLPT test (Japanese Toefl?). And I was baffled because it’s really difficult. They use Kanji that we haven’t learned. And we didn’t get to skip difficult questions to return to later, so we got only one chance to answer the question. It was hard. Probably harder than any TOEFL test I have ever done. And guess what? I ended up random-guessing the answers 😐 But, ugh, I got placed in the intermediate level, though. And, wow, I was surprised. It’s totally the opposite of my English learning. When I was learning English and taking English tests, my listening was usually always the worst. But this time my listening was kinda the best. LoL And grammar section failed me. It’s understandable, though. I couldn’t really do the grammar if I couldn’t read the kanji and hence didn’t know what it means. So I guess, English test takers experience the same when they have to do grammar questions :/ But I’m quite happy, even though I wish I could be better. Hhe

Well, what else? Hello Talk? I still use it, and I found a new partner and a new method. So we call every week. We’ll decide on the topic in advance. I will talk about the topic in Japanese and see if my partner understands, then she’ll say what I said in English. Then she’d do the same, talking about the topic in English and see if I understand and then I’ll try to say what she told me in Japanese. It’s hard but it’s fun. Sometimes there’s something I want to say but I just don’t know how to say it in Japanese. Like, sometimes I understand when she speaks English but I don’t know how to say it in Japanese and I guess she experiences the same. However, later we add that we both send the talk written in our respective languages. Hence, I will write what I said and what she said in English. She would also write what she said and what I said in proper Japanese. It’s really helpful, except that sometimes she uses a lot of Kanji and I’m not sure how to read them. Haha

Also, I realize that I’m more confident with spoken Japanese, speaking, singing, etc. compared to speaking and singing in English. I guess because I feel less pressure when learning Japanese? I often get praised when I practice Japanese, and there are not so many people speaking Japanese too around me so nobody could really judge if I speak well or not? With English, though, it’s different. When it comes to English, I prefer writing. I’m not confident to speak or sing in English because I feel like everyone will judge me. I don’t remember experiencing it myself and people have been telling me how good my English is, but when I was learning English (and even until now), I’ve witnessed many people got laughed at, ridiculed, scolded, and discouraged for speaking “incorrectly.” Somehow it instilled some kind of fear in me. I’m afraid to be judged. I don’t want it to happen to me. The fear stays within me and affects my confidence somehow. It feels like I must speak English “correctly and perfectly.” And though I know the important thing is to speak intelligibly, I still can’t get myself to speak without the fear of being judged or making such mistakes. I really hope today’s and future English learners do not have to experience the same feelings. With Japanese, though, in addition to my not having to worry about grades and GPA, I got to learn with a “I’m not Japanese. It’s ok to make mistakes. I can always try to make people understand me and they’ll try to understand me too” mind, so it’s really relieving in some way and I can learn with ease. I hope I can make my students feel this way too later.

But, well, I guess that’s all? Hopefully I’d be able to learn more, keep my proficiency, and improve my Japanese somehow. Aamiin. Wish me luck 🙂

PS: For my previous review of my Japanese class, you can read it here.

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