David Chart's Japan Diary

October 8th 2003

Today I started my actual Japanese lessons. I'm in C class, which is third down from the top. It's between Intermediate and Upper Intermediate, but nearer Intermediate. I think I'm one of the least accomplished members of the class, which puts my standard at Intermediate, about where I would have guessed. There are two classes above us, A class at the top (Yumi is in this class), then the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) Level 1 Preparation Class. The two classes immediately below us are the JLPT Level 2 Preparation Classes, so it's quite possible that in any other quarter I would have been in D class or C class.

Haruki-sensei Haruki-sensei.

Most of our lessons today were with Haruki-sensei ('sensei' is the Japanese term for 'teacher', and it is used as a title when talking to or about them), although we did almost as much administration as actual lessons. I found the explanations of the course, which were, of course, entirely in Japanese, quite difficult to follow, but not impossible, and similarly the tasks we were set were difficult but not impossible, so I think I'm in the right class. I'll have to work hard this quarter, but I will learn from it. Next quarter there will be a B class, because the JLPT is in December, so I'm hoping to reach the standard necessary to get into it. Ideally I would get into A class in my third quarter, and spend two quarters in the top class.

After introducing ourselves and ordering our textbooks, we had to choose our option classes. We did three quick kanji tests, which showed that I needed to take Kanji 4, of six, which I think is quite a low level of kanji proficiency for my class. That is, of course, why I'm taking it.

I'm also taking Reading Comprehension 5, Advanced Composition (that's the one indicated for my level), and Japan Studies. The last is more culture than language, but timetabling constraints meant that I couldn't take any of the other language options that I wanted this quarter. Options don't start until next Tuesday (next Monday is a public holiday), so I don't know what they will be like. I've been told that Japan Studies is interesting, and Kanji classes are mind-numbingly boring. This sounds plausible, but I really do need to learn those kanji.

I have standard lessons every day from 9 to 13:30, with a fifty minute break for lunch from 11:50 to 12:40. On Monday, I have an option class (Composition, I think) from 14:40 to 15:30, on Tuesday I have Kanji 4 (again, I think) from 14:40 to 15:30, and on Thursday I have Reading Comprehension from 13:40 to 14:30 and Japan Studies from 14:40 to 15:30. In and between all that, I have to do homework and preparation for lessons. I've done the preparation for tomorrow, but it took quite a while -- I had to look a lot of vocabulary up in my dictionary.

Today, we did a quick reading comprehension, followed by a speaking and writing test. We interviewed each other in pairs, and took notes. Then we wrote a piece about the person we had interviewed, and the composition will be marked and corrected. After we had done that, we read our compositions to the class. I can't manage to speak to a Japanese text yet -- I actually had to read it. Maybe soon. Well, maybe by the end of the year...

I've been to the 100 yen shop yet again, to buy some cheap food and more bits of things. I think I might plan to eat cheaply at home in the mornings and evenings, so that I can afford to get a fresh meal midday from the local snack place. I think that time is going to be at more of a premium than money, with everything I want to do, so the time savings involved in buying lunch probably outweigh the additional costs.

I'm planning to drop the frequency of diary entries a bit from today, since school has actually started. It might drop back to the rate of entries I was making before I came to Japan, or something similar. We'll see.