Thursday, April 21, 2005

A linguistically trying day

I need someone to give me a shoutout if they've felt what I'm feeling.

Today I had a completely idiotic day concerning Japanese. These days come every so often (and seem to be increasing in their incidents lately-- alarming!), and they most often appear on those days which I have my Japanese lessons. I don't know how to describe it. It was just one of those days where I could not seem to either communicate or understand anything that was said to me in the elusive Nihongo. You would have no idea that I've been in this country for nearly 8 months!

It really makes me want to tear my hair out. In college I considered myself quite a good language student with somewhat of a knack for languages. Apparently I am much better at studying foreign languages than second languages (the difference being that you are in your own culture for the prior and immersed in the latter). It's so frustrating. I have studied a lot, and it's in my head, but when I want it to emerge in a useful situation, something happens and the communicative effort goes awry, only to be lost in the vast sea of sentiments lost over time due to cultural barriers.

I'll get over it. It was just a linguistically trying day. Perhaps this is part of culture shock. I don't know if this is related to culture shock, too, but recently I have been reading "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley and am fairly certain that the civilization he is speaking of is Japan. :)


Anonymous said...

Keep at it. One day soon it will become as if a light was turned on in a dark closet for you. Should I sen the 'SHOGUN' DVD ?

Robert B said...

I call it “growing pains” and but I think the scientific term for it is linguistic constipation. You probably already know that language learning is a stair-step process of growth and plateaus rather than a steady climb. It is no surprise that your most trying days are the days when you have Japanese lessons: you are incorporating new vocabulary and structures and then trying to retrieve this language from a filing system hasn’t quite got everything put away. I found that the times I made the most progress were times when I was back in the States as a student exchange sponsor; the break from my studies allowed my mind to “file everything away.” In sum, the periods of time you find “linguistically trying” are probably the times you are experiencing the most growth. Consider where you started, look at where you are!