Monday, November 9, 2009

Learning is hard

This evening I worked on the Japanese course that, as a JET, I can take for free. It seems to be good so far, but the material is way over my head.

As a teacher, I taught my students the five finger rule. As you read, you put a finger up for each word you don’t know. If you have no fingers down by the end of the page, it’s too easy. If you have all 5 down before you get to the end of the page it’s too hard. These books are far enough above my head that I don’t have enough fingers (or toes) to use this rule.

The teacher in me says, you wouldn’t give a student a book which is this far over their head because it would be way too hard for them, why aren’t you setting these aside and coming back to them when your Japanese level is more up to speed? The part of me that knows there’s a test that goes with them and really wants to be able to take the advanced level next year says, get it done and don’t get behind!

As of the moment, neither one of them is winning completely, I’m behind but I’m struggling through each lesson. Which is better for my learning? I’m not sure. I’m going to have to learn a lot if I’m going to keep up with these every day.

The good news is I’m missing the vocab, not the grammar. This means I can look up most of the words in the passage and still make sense of the sentences. I was able to understand all of the grammar except for the teaching point. I thought I was missing the grammar and so I texted my friend Heather, who is basically fluent in Japanese (though she wouldn’t admit it). She gave me a great explanation via skype . . .

Then I continued the lesson . . . and found the explanation of what Heather had just said. I felt a little silly, but I’m good at doing silly things and later realizing that I didn’t need to do them.

In the end, I finished the lesson. How much of it will I retain when everything is new and a little difficult? I’m not sure, but I’m going to continue and try to learn as much as I can from these books. Hopefully my Japanese will improve quickly and I be able to use what I know.