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Abby PeelDublin, Ireland
I've been in the Acceleration program for 12 weeks. Its seminar format because there are only 2 students in my class. There have been lots of opportunities to speak and the faculty have been able to tailor the classes to suit us better. The down side is that there are sometimes not enough weak points to cover and its also a little easier to be distracted.
What have your teachers been like?
The faculty members are excellent. I like all of them, the 3 regulars I have plus the 1 lesson per week for another teacher. As for my Japanese I've learnt a lot, but somedays I'm frustrated when I realize how much further I have to go. The course was a bit too fast for me at times and maybe I needed a little more revision. One problem though was that my husband was ill for a week and we were moving house so I missed some classes, but it wasn't too much of a problem to catch up. Teachers were quite helpful in covering the content I had missed.
What were you doing before you came to Yamasa?
Um, I was watching TV, chasing my cat. I was living in Tokyo and I'm married to stockbroker. So I was a bit bored and decided to study Japanese. I tried a school in Tokyo but the program here in Okazaki is much better.
How does living in Okazaki compare with your life in Tokyo?
Okazaki is much cheaper than Tokyo. A pleasant surprise. I was also expecting it to be more of a country town, almost a village. Whereas its actually more suburban. Okazaki's is modern and has everything. I was surprised at how large it was.
What is the best thing?
Cat food is cheap! I'm going to buy a big bag and take it home on the Shinkansen. Everybody will be looking at me and whispering "The cat woman".
...OK, and back to Japanese, did you start as a beginner?
In Yamasa's scale I was upper elementary. I started with Minna no Nihongo II. I had studied the grammar before but had trouble reproducing the knowledge in conversation. I've learnt a lot here - syntax, grammar, pronunication and tenses. My hiragana/katakana was fine but I had no Kanji.
Where did you study Japanese before?
I studied at a school in Hiroo in Tokyo for 3 months.
How long have you been at Yamasa?
Also 3 months.
And how long have you been living in Japan?
2 and a half years now. All of it in Tokyo though. Prior to that I had been here once when I was 13.
What are you plans after graduation?
I'll be heading back to Tokyo and I'll try to continue my studies closer to home.
Where are you living at the moment?
I did a homestay for 1 month, then the village and now a homestay again.
What is your accommodation like?
The first homestay was fantastic as I had my own room. It was a big house about 30 minutes away by bicycle. The 'children' were aged 15, 21 and 23 respectively.
The second one was a bit trying - there were very young children aged 1 and 3. A boy and a girl. It was a small 2DK apartment.
In the village I had a single room. It was good but I was conscious of time and I think I spoke more English than in the homestays.
How do you get to classes?
By bicycle. I bought it from a shop on the other side of the station.
What is the biggest challenge or problem you've faced so far in Japan?
Just using my credit card to pay or get cash out. I'm used to using EFTPOS or switch cards all the time.
In terms of language, I've struggled with transitive and intransitive verbs - I use them in English of course, but in English I use them subconsciously and found this difficult in Japanese.
Any surprises you would like to share?
Yes, I actually enjoy eating takoyaki and food. And I discovered how much I like Japanese food and even Karaoke. I now even bow on the telephone.
If a new student was entering your class today and asked for some advice, what would you say?
Keep listening to the tapes over and over again because it is worth it. When I'm riding my bike around I use the walkman, when I'm shopping etc.
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