I seem to have become a learner of Japanese by accident!
My daughter (now 14) has always loved movies. My fault as I introduced them to her from a young age and it has always been something we shared, from watching at home to regular trips to the cinema. We discovered and loved the Ghibli films.
Just over a year ago she really got into anime. I think at first through Netflix then via the internet. Apart from Akira and Ghost in the Shell (the series) I hadn’t watched any anime but she got me watching Hunter X Hunter, then introduced me to Naruto and it sort of spiralled from there. I now watch more anime than my daughter as she has moved onto manga (in English)!
We are quite boring with our holidays and almost always go to Spain (I love the language, people are great and so is the food - plus the weather is slightly better than the UK!) As my daughter was so keen on anything Japanese I thought for once we would do a holiday this year in Japan. My wife was a bit concerned about going somewhere where she had heard they don’t speak English. She was wanting a personal guide! I wasn’t really into that so told her I would learn Japanese! Well I meant at the time some Japanese…
I started with Genki 1 with the intention of ignoring Kanji as was primarily focused on being able to speak and understand Japanese. However that was a decision from a position of ignorance. Once I got into my studies I’ve realised how important and useful Kanji is for understanding (and how it would be almost impossible to learn properly without it).
The more I have learnt the more my goals have changed.
I have been throwing myself into learning - much more intensively than for any of the other languages I’ve dabbled with in the past. I would think between one to two hours per day every day since when I started last August (not including the hundreds of hours watching anime!!)
I ended up taking a course at my local university, have been having private lessons and via the university have two language exchange partners (a PhD student and a postdoc). We meet once a week and do half an hour in English and half an hour in Japanese. Their English is of course on a whole different level to my Japanese!
With the help of WK my Japanese is slowly getting to the point that I can read the Japanese subtitles to anime on Netflix (what a brilliant resource that is). Although it is really hard going and a 20 minute episode takes over an hour to get through if I am properly diligent and try to read them all. I’ve also realised that watching anime with English subtitles is not that useful for learning.
Overall I am finding it harder to learn Japanese than anticipated. When I started I was overjoyed to realise that the sounds in Japanese are easy for English speakers (compared to say Hindi where the sounds are for me very difficult to make and the very similar Ds etc hard to distinguish). However I really struggle to understand spoken Japanese. I keep slogging away every day but I’m not sure how much I will be able to communicate when we go in August.
Oops. Has turned into a much longer post than planned.