My Japanese Learning in Hong Kong

By Ma

Happy Lunar New Year, everyone!

I have fumbled hard from my maze of memory for my Japanese learning experiences: Dyslexia – an inborn illness which results in difficulty in reading, writing and spelling – hinders me from making quick progress in any language acquisition. In my freshman year, I made a third attempt to pick up French but without avail.

Such failure, however, turned myself into an aficionado of Japanese culture as I started to learn the language during my leisure time and tried to watch Japanese animation without subtitles. Meanwhile, once a week I went to a local language school where I had wrestled excruciatingly hard with the three types of characters – Hiragana (平仮名), Katakana (片仮名) and Kanji (漢字). After roughly having spent a month recognizing the former two, I tasted a little victory in genuinely taking up the reins of Japanese.

My learning then entered a second stage, which was to enrich my vocabulary and was also a formidable task to me as I need to repeat the same new word orally several times until it is deeply entrenched in my mind.

The syntax of Japanese is entirely different from that of Chinese and English, too. Personally I think to grasp a new language means to access a new system. To hone my listening and speaking skills, I watched a lot of anime. The result is not as fruitful as it was expected, though. Since Japanese slang and its cultural contexts are unfamiliar to me, I ended up understanding relatively little from those cartoon videos.

But I always comfort myself: there is no use scurrying oneself as language acquisition can never be built in one day. ‘With a snail’s pace one can journey as far as a thousand miles’ (牛步千里) is a Japanese idiom which my language teacher has once taught me. However strenuous your journey ahead seems to be, persist and keep on even though you trudge as slowly as a cow.

One month has passed ever since the first day of 2016. May I wish all of you great progress towards fulfilling your New Year’s resolution(s)!

[Featured image taken by James on 6th Feb, 2016 at Meiji Shrine, Japan]

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