Thursday, January 27, 2011

The internet lesson

Have I mentioned in the last five minutes that I'm trying to learn Japanese? No? Really? That's not like me, I usually talk about it a lot. And how hard it is and how much I don't understand and did you know there are thousands of characters? And then there's actual conversation, which I struggle with in English but there are dialects in these here parts and, well, you get the drift.

I decided recently that it was time to do something proactive or dynamic or whatever you're supposed to be when you want to do something. My main tactic of late has been to watch TV with the Roomies, constantly asking "what's he saying?" or "What just happened?" or "I'm confused." until they give in and ask if I'd like to watch the English channel. It's a tactic I learned form my Mum, she's a pro at bugging you the whole way through a show so that in the end you cave and end up watching Poirot. As much as I'm sure the Roomies enjoy the whole process, I thought a new strategy might be the order of the day.

I decided to join that there information superhighway and get me some internet lessons. I found a school that offered three model lessons for a reasonable price and signed up. The whole set up is reminiscent of the internet meetings we used to have when I worked for a big language company here in Japan. Only with less people  faking mic trouble to avoid giving up their school's results for that week.

I decided to be sensible and started to log into the school system a good 20 minutes before the lesson was due to start. I logged in on my 5th attempt and found I had to download some kind of reader thingy. Cue fiftenn minutes of clicking with no result.  My computer illiteracy was going to make me late for the lesson designed to help me with my Japanese illiteracy. Oh! the irony! And this is Japan, land of never be late or you will be shunned from polite society for ever more. Agh!

It turned out I was clicking on the wrong part of the page. Opps. Luckily, my computer downloads quickly and I started to stop panicking.

Except then the dog started up, hacking and coughing as if he was going to puke. On my kotatsu futon. Which was keeping my feet toasty while I panicked over downloading. He was going to ruin my lesson.

Please note, I didn't think "oh, no. I hope he's OK." I was concerned merely for my studies, That's how dedicated to learning Japanese I am. Alternatively, that's how little attention the poor thing gets when it's just him and me.

Luckily, he was just having a moment, and all was well. The download finished, I started up my web camera and I introduced myself to my teacher. All the time looking like the perfect student, although I'm sure she wondered why I was wearing running gear. I decided not to get into the whole "I'm running 100kms over the course of January and today I plan to get up to 90km" thing. It makes me sound weird.

I thought it might be odd, learning via camera, but actually I really enjoyed it. I particularly enjoyed the fact that I was sitting in my room, bed socks and heater toasting my feet, and as soon as the lesson finished I only had a one minute walk to out the kettle on. What more could I ask for?


  1. I think it's awesome. I would be trying to learn any way possible.

  2. Ooh, keep us updated on the progress. I have always wondered how these online learning things actually turned out.

  3. “It turned out I was clicking on the wrong part of the page. Opps. Luckily, my computer downloads quickly and I started to stop panicking.”

    That had me giggling because it appears that you and I are kindred spirits. I too am guilty of that.
    You’re lucky your computer downloads quickly. My antediluvian computer is the complete antithesis to yours. It’s so knackered it takes an eternity to download. So had I found myself in your situation I’ll be frenzied - wringing my hands in despair willing it not to fail me.

  4. I take French lessons via skype. My tutor lives an hour away so this way neither of us have to travel. It's going great! Not too much difference from being in a classroom really (well the learning bit... the fact that I'm in my slippers is totally different)


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