Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Year of the Sparkle Dragon: Study More

It's the year of the Water Dragon in Chinese philosophy, and I've declared it the Year of the Sparkle Dragon: our year to shine! This whole week, I'm going over my goals for 2012. I've thrown the word resolution out the window, in favour of the more active "goals."

Goal #2: Study More. 

Studying was not on my list of goals for 2011. 2011 was The Year of Living Write, so it was focused on writing. This year my focus is more all-encompassing, because I'm taking over the world - er, that's not right - because I'm drawing to the end of my tenure in Japan.

Y'all know I'm a language-aholic. Japanese is the 5th language that I can get by in. I'm sure I don't have to tell you, that it's a doozy of a language. It's got a Subject-object-verb structure ( English is Subjevet-verb-object). It's got particles, which follow words to tell their purpose in a sentence. It's got counters. The way you say "2 chickens" is different from the way you say "2 trees" is different from the way you say "2 cars." There are 3 writing systems. Hurts my head just to think about.

When I first came, I jumped into Japanese with my usual gusto, but I burned out some time last year or late 2k10. Japanese is the language that made ME not want to learn any more languages. (That may change after I get Japanese out of my system. lol)

This year, one of my new neighbours has decided to take the kanji kentei (kanken). Kanji is the Chinese writing system that the Japanese have adopted. You know, the one where one character represents one concept or one word. 木 is tree, 気 is spirit, 黄 is yellow, and 危 is danger. Because I'm crazy, I signed up too. In kanken, I have to know the readings (pronunciation), the meanings and the stroke order (order in which you write the lines of a kanji). That may not sound hard, but all 4 kanji I've used as examples can be pronounced as "ki", and they all have other readings as well. 

We're doing Level 8 (for 3rd graders, 8-9 year olds), but since I'm crazy, I'm tempted to keep going until I've covered all the Joyo kanji (1945 characters). The highest level of kanken tests 6000 characters. 

By the first week in February, I have to decide if I'm sticking with this job until next year August, or if I'm done this year. I'm 95% sure I'm staying. That means I'll have 5 years experience in teaching English as a Foreign Language. There's a decent chance that I'll want to come back to this field. After all, it provides opportunities to live in non-English speaking countries. Heaven? Yuppity-yups!

This program accepts a wide range of quals, but many other posts worldwide ask for TEFL qualifications. An opportunity came up to do a course at a discount rate, and I took it.

The 4 other languages
Japanese is killing my other languages. I have not come up with a plan yet, but language is use it or lose it. One of my best friends here was Bolivian (he's since returned to Bolivia) and sometimes I'd be having a convo in Spanish, and a Japanese word would just jump in. Ditto my French conversations. And since I barely knew Italian to start with, I have to dig that from the recesses of my brain. 

It's becoming more and more obvious that I need to make a conscious effort to keep my languages from dying. I haven't come up with a plan as yet, other than the possibility of foreign language blogs, but I will make one this year. 

You may notice that I've only mentioned 3 other languages. The fourth? English! When I was in school, I was a grammar guru. Two years in a US college almost killed me, but I got really good at American grammar as well. Now, I can't remember where commas go, my spelling sucks, and I regularly forget words. This is the year I give in and buy myself a Junior English (the grammar guide practically all primary schools use in the Caribbean) or some other grammar guide.

I won't mention any writing-related studies here. You'll see them tomorrow in the Write More post. How about you guys? Any studyin goald for 2012?

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