Not often do we get a second opportunity to go back to university and try out something different. For some people, once may be enough. For me, this time is my take-2 opportunity to do something for me.
Around October 2019, I enrolled in a university program. 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. Why have I gone back to uni? This is something for me – as mentioned. Yes, I love learning languages, particularly Japanese. But, if I am really honest with myself, I want to become further proficient in Japanese and head back to Japan after this. That’s the plan anyways.
Some people I’ve spoken to seemed surprised by my decision to return to uni. They ask me “Aren’t you fluent in Japanese and Chinese already?” “Didn’t you pick up the language when you lived over there?” 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. Just because you know a few words here and there, that makes you sufficient people! Hell, I wish that were the case and that I were some sort of language genius. Sadly, I am not. So I decided to bite the bullet and enrol in a language program.
Back to studying Japanese. So, prior to this uni 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.
For now, I leave you with my cooking video. Please enjoy and welcome any feedback and comments.