LEARNING JAPANESE IN MELBOURNE
STUDENT INTERVIEW – BRIANNA 09/01/2018
Recently we interviewed one of our students ‘Brianna”. She started learning Japanese with us approximately 7 month ago as a beginner.
Below we asked her what it’s been like learning Japanese as a beginner. We also found out what her weekly study routine is like and any tips she has for beginner students learning Japanese.
How long have you been learning Japanese?
Hey there! My name is Brianna, and I’ve been learning Japanese at Nunawading Japanese School since May 2017, so about 7 months. I learnt a little bit when I started high school but my family moved and my new school didn’t offer Japanese as a subject. I mostly forgot what I had learnt. I did have a Japanese student stay with me for a few weeks though!
Had you learnt Japanese before?
When I started Uni I tried learning French for two semesters but ended up pursuing other subjects. Every now and then I will be trying to think of a Japanese word and something obscure in French will pop into my head!
Why did you decide to start learning the Japanese language?
I’ve always had a fascination with Japanese culture. This probably started from my obsession with Pokémon when I was younger! I really love Japanese food, stories, Japanese music, anime and manga. I also have an appreciation for Japanese art, architecture and the country’s beautiful landscapes.
I went there on an adventure in 2015. I felt like I would be able to understand more about the people and culture if I could speak more Japanese. I’m so excited to go back. I love the challenge of learning Japanese language.
What’s the process like at our school?
So much fun. Definitely a combo of difficult and easy things with learning Japanese language…
I keep getting mixed up with Japanese language sentence structure when speaking. I think I panic trying to work out the right way to say something, rather than just getting the words out. Drilling different verbs and phrases in class is definitely really helping a lot.
What have you found easy/difficult with learning Japanese?
I found Hiragana and Katakana characters really easy to learn. When I sit down to write in my Japanese journal or a silly story to practice new vocab, I can take my time unlike in a conversation. I really like writing and any direct translation written homework.
Kanji remains extremely difficult for me to remember. I struggle with the multiple readings/pronunciations. I have tried using them in short stories and copying out line after line after line. It’s still really hard!
A few weeks ago I made a little set of flip cards on a key ring and chucked them in my handbag. Very useful to use on the train coming home from work. I think the process of making the cards actually helped me retain the information as well.
What’s your weekly study routine like?
Currently I try to do something Japanese-related every day. This helps a lot.
I attend a group class each week on Fridays. We have regular weekly homework or revision that has to be completed each week. This really helps keep me focused in between classes and supports what I learn in class.
At work during the week I listen to J-POP and try to think of Japanese words for things around me. Sometimes I will talk to myself in the car and say out aloud where I’m going and what I see. I also sit down to do some written work a few nights a week and watch anime on the weekends.
How has learning Japanese language changed your life?
I have met some amazing people already. Can’t wait to meet even more people that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise met had I not decided to start learning Japanese. I’m so glad I chose this school when looking for a Japanese language school in Melbourne.
Being able to speak Japanese as well will definitely help me communicate more with Japanese locals when I visit Japan. It would be amazing to work and live in Japan one day.
What motivates you with learning Japanese language?
The enthusiasm of the teachers and my fellow students at Japanese Tutor Melbourne Pty Ltd is really motivating! I just love attending my Japanese classes.
This year I want to achieve a JLPT accreditation and eventually go to the Japanese 2020 Olympics with my mum. In the long term I want to be able to read manga and entire Japanese novels.
I’d also like to be able to watch anime without subtitles. I’m actually already starting to notice I’m picking up words and phrases when watching anime that are slightly different to what appears as the English subs!
What part of our classes help the most?
The fact that this school can cater to anyone and everyone is what I think is so awesome!
I personally have so much fun in the Japanese group classes. I also like the combination of teaching methods used when learning content in class rather than just writing down sentences. The flashcards aren’t just words either. They incorporate visual pictures which really helps me remember the full meaning.
Asking questions in Japanese around the room can be challenging but is very beneficial for learning Japanese language. Everyone thinks of different ways to use what we’ve learnt. Others in the room are making the same little beginner blunders as me which is reassuring but it’s also amazing to see the progress we make each month.
The pile of flashcards for verbs is becoming huge. It seems like only the other day we were learning how to say eat, read, watch, do and go!
Do you have any study tips for learning Japanese?
I stuck hiragana and katakana charts up on my bathroom mirror which I looked at when brushing my teeth every day. I think I need to replace them with kanji now…
I highly recommend listening to Japanese music. I found both JPOP and anime theme songs as well as some soft jazzy ballads on Spotify help a lot. Also the school’s recordings on Soundcloud are really good to listen to. The recordings and vocabulary are inline with my lessons which is useful for home study.
What interesting facts have you learnt?
Because of the different sentence structures, there are sometimes really different ways of saying things. Some things can be really direct. But then I’ve found sometimes in conversations it’s polite to repeat parts of sentences…
I also recently found a video about Japanese body language. There are actually so many little differences I hadn’t realised!
Why is learning Japanese in a classroom better than online?
I love a good chat… if you hadn’t already noticed. Also sitting in a real classroom and interacting face to face with students is more realistic. The learning experience is real and more practical than learning Japanese language via a video call or from a book.
We always have a laugh in class and it makes learning Japanese language fun. I always seem to end up staying back after class to chat with classmates outside the school. I find being surrounded by real life students more engaging and motivating especially with a teacher in front of me.
How important is having a native speaking Japanese teacher for pronunciation?
I think that as a native speaker, Japanese people have a much deeper subconscious understanding of the language built over a lifetime. In particular from when they were young and learning Japanese language themselves. A native speaker can always tell how something should be said or is commonly phrased.
I know that our native Japanese teachers will help me learn more accurate pronunciation and accent from the beginning. This is why I decided to start learning Japanese with a native speaking Japanese tutor in Melbourne. The teachers we have are also fluent in English which helps with understanding the full context of what I’m learning as apposed to just paraphrasing and copying words trying to work out why I’m saying what I’m saying.
What is your main goal with learning Japanese?
To speak confidently and extensively with people in Japan! As well as understand novels, manga and tv shows really well.
Lastly if you could be an anime character in real life, who would you be?
Definitely a Pokémon trainer, not sure about a specific character!