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Can I learn?


28 Aug 2003
I am scheduled to start a Japanese course soon. However, I am having second thoughts. I have a neurological condition called benign essential tremor, which means that I have a constant mild tremor, and thus my writing can never be straight... When doing my exams, I have extra time to allow for this and will enable me to correct my writing where it isn't good... Do you think it would still be possible for me to learn Japanese to a reasonable degree? I've tried writing kana and kanji, and although my kana isn't too bad (although it does not look perfect, I worry that people may misinterpret it), some of the kanji I try writing look terrible - even when using squares, I cannot at all get them right...

Do you think I should stop? (because I believe the calligraphic nature of Chinese characters means you need a lot of control) or did others have a lot of difficulties when starting to use kanji?
You shouldn't give up if you want to learn Japanese. Take tony Iommi(guitarist for the black sabbath). When he was younger, he had a work-related accident that cut off three of his finger(i think three anyway), but he didn't stop playing the guitar. He just found ways to deal with it and work around his "disability", and now he's one of the most well-known guitarists and was in one of the most influential bands for metal. so keep at it and don't let life's problems hold you back, man 👍
I agree completely with Seppuku. I've never taught myself to write kanji, either, but I can type Japanese, read most newspapers and magazines, and speak (to some degree ;)), any one of which is pretty much a full time job in itself. So you definately don't need to put yourself through a program that emphasizes writing to the exclusion of anything else or creates any additional pressures and stressors unless your goal is living there long-term or working for a Japanese company. And are you even sure kanji practice is part of a first level curriculum? I had the same problem in Japan of nearly failing a class when everything else was A's & B's because I have absolutely no visual/artistic sense and couldn't be bothered on something so non-relevant to my reasons for being there. Although that wasn't for credit, either....
Cheers guys. I have decided not to pursue a full-time Japanese course. However, I still will learn as a hobby.. also, what puts me off learning Japanese full time is the fact that many Japanese people don't know their language too well themselves (not all the kanji, or all the pronunciations etc.), so I sometimes worry that it is almost a lifetime struggle to be good at Japanese. Basically, in the amount of time it takes to learn Japanese, you could probably learn about three or four European languages. I don't plan to settle permanently in Japan, so perhaps better ways to utilize time.

Thanks for the help!!

Oh, and btw.. in many university Japanese programs, you expected to know kana before the course even starts, so I can guess that various kanji are introduced from the get-go.
Use flash cards! I would have flunked if not for flash cards.
i made my own from my textbooks, but exambusters has a set

also university is better for me (wish I had gone this semester) because i am such a lazy person
plus i am only learning that which interests me -- but not necessarily that which will encourage communication (and understanding), but in any case, something is definitely better than nothing! good luck!
Good call. If you have no real drive to learn Japanese then don't do it. There are a lot more "useful" languages to learn especially if you're likely to be in the EU often.

As for Japanese not knowing their language that well -- I don't believe the issue is that much different in other countries. I know plenty of Americans who can't spell worth a damn, don't have a large vocabulary and don't know proper grammar either.
Well, I've really wanted to learn japanese for a few years.. But, i don't think i would live in japan for longer than a year or so so perhaps it isnt worth spending years and years learning .. This may be obvious but is it much easier to pick up japanese whilst living in japan? (i picked up quite a lot of vocab in two weeks) Eg. do you think it is possible to learn as much japanese as a four year course would teach in america in a year or two actually living in japan? - with spanish i didn't find it at all easier to learn in spain because everyone speaks so fast! and thus, for a while i couldn't make it out hardly at all. however, japanese is much easier to hear..
Definitely you will learn far more immersed in a Japanese environment than outside. I sure did. I took 6 semesters of Japanese over 3 years in America. I'm sure I learned far more in a year (or less) living in Japan than I did in those courses. Simply because in Japan, even though I wasn't there to study, I was using/learning the language every day. In America, I'd study the lessons and do the homework but it didn't occupy a significant part of every day.
It is easier to learn a language being immersed in it. I think it's incredibly more effortless after you have had some basic grammar, structure, and vocabulary flow down before you fully immerse yourself.

If you know the basic grammar structure and can understand most of the more common-used words, it will be a hell of a lot easier to pick up and start speaking sooner.

If you know even a minimal amount, just enough to express [poorly] most general things you'd need to say, you'll probably gain A LOT more from being there for a year.

Suppose you can understand what everyone is saying and reply or give feedback to what is displayed. In that case, this will allow you to expand your language skill much further and faster than just hearing jibberish and being unable to say anything. Not knowing anything will make it daunting and frustrating.

I've been around a lot of exchange students the past few years. Whenever I talk to the outbound students and ask how much of the language [of the country they are going to] they speak, they usually tell me, "None really, I know I'll learn it once I'm there just naturally" This is true for the program we are in, because you go to school and live with a family, so you'll hear the language ALL the time. I think that's a stupid approach, though. Imagine how much more you will learn if you start learning it before going to Japan.

I have two friends that went to Japan. One of them just left, and I haven't heard from her since she arrived. She knew a decent bit of Japanese before she left and had the drive to learn it. I think her experience will be much more enjoyable. The other person who went to Japan said stuff like, "We went to an orientation, but I felt it was such a waste of time. We could have been outside having fun, but instead, we just sat inside and listened to people talk for hours and hours. They were talking in Japanese too, so it was just a complete waste of time. I just zoned out and stuff" Since he made no effort to learn any before he left, he lost a lot of opportunities to learn fluent Japanese in a year. He could have used those "Talking for hours and hours" as an opportunity to learn new words and get a better feel for the language.

It will make it a hell of a lot easier on you if you take some classes beforehand. The effort required to learn before you go will be nothing compared to the stress on your brain if you go without adequate preparation ahead.

I can understand why you don't want to learn Japanese, as it's so hard and you could learn so many other languages in the time it would take. I agree with you there, I think. I probably wouldn't want to live there. I still have a lot of German languages I want to learn. If you will live there for a year, though, do yourself a favor and start now. :)
oh yeah, even my instructors say immersion is better
after two days over there, it's like a switch in my brain clicks :)
Maybe you should learn it from simple, (it would help) like: see a drama, books, anime (hehe, my favorite).

NEVER GIVE UP!!! the one who tries, may fail, but the one who´s never tried is already failed!!! remember...
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