Not often do we get a second opportunity to go back to university and tried out something different. For some people, once may be enough. For others, staying at university seems like a dream. For me, this is my take-2 opportunity to try out something different; something for me. Around October 2019, I enrolled in a university program and started studying again. I am now 8 months (and counting) into the program; studying Japanese and Chinese as my language majors. No complaints so far. Extremely happy with this decision to be quite frank.
Some people I’ve spoken to seemed surprised by this decision, saying “Aren’t you fluent in Japanese and Chinese already?” “Didn’t you pick up the language when you lived over there?” “Oh.. why?” To those people, I would like to say is “why not?” And the truth is, I am not fluent in these languages. I can listen, write, read, and speak in these languages to an extent, but I am far from fluent. Sometimes it seems that just because you know a few words here and there, that makes you “sufficient”. No, people, no! God, I wish that were the case or that I was some sort of language genius. Sadly, I am not. So I decided to bite the bullet and enroll in a language program.
Prior to this program, I had tried language exchange, evening/weekend language classes, and self-directed study. Each of these options has its pros and cons. I might write a separate piece about this, but very briefly:
- Self-directed study is looking at a textbook and going through grammar points by yourself. The textbook is your teacher and the dictionary is your best study mate. This approach is dry as hell and requires a lot of self-discipline.
- Evening/Weekend language classes are driven by language schools. For roughly 2 months, I did in-person group classes. A real teacher drives the class with a textbook, and you have classmates. Not a bad option if you work full-time, but prices can vary and you don’t get any “recognised” certification (this depends on your purposes of course).
- Language exchange involves yourself and the other person where you exchange language knowledge. In my case, I did a Language exchange with a native Japanese speaker. She wanted to improve her English and I wanted to improve my Japanese. Indeed you get to interact with a native speaker, but it’s up to each other what you want to learn, and that can be tricky.
- With a university program, it’s a university program. You get a teacher, meet classmates, and learn from a structured program. When you finish, you get an official certification. Classes are set during the day time which means you need to organise around this schedule if you need to work. However, through university, there are exchange programs and a lot of overseas study opportunities to explore, so I see this as a huge plus compared to others.
Now, back to the language program that I am doing now – Surprise surprise, I am loving every minute of it. I am into the second trimester of my studies. A major project I have been working on is to produce a video to exercise (and further improve) my Japanese Spoken Production skills. After hours and hours and hours of videoing, recording, adjusting, editing, then more editing, I have managed to create a cooking video delivered in Japanese. Hooray! The video is released on my (new) YouTube channel.
I never would have anticipated that I would create such an artifact through my language program. This is the beginning of something new for me and I cannot wait to see how it will continue in the near future.
For now, I leave you with my cooking video. Please enjoy and welcome any feedback and comments.