Timeless Thoughts: Learning Japanese

Timeless Thoughts

It’s time for another round of Timeless Thoughts, a monthly blog link-up hosted by Georgie and me. This month is being hosted by Georgie, so head over to her blog and join up by submitting your post to the widget at the end of Georgie’s entry! This link-up is opened for two weeks, and your entry can be about anything you find unforgettable from your past or present! It can be an object, an event, a person — anything goes — and you can have more than one thing you miss. For this month, here’s what I’ve been missing lately!

TC's Japanese Lessons

Back in 2008-2010 (somewhere around then), I’d been self-studying Japanese. I always wanted to learn Japanese because of my interest in anime, manga, and JRPGs. I’d picked up some basic phrases from Japanese media, but I hadn’t learnt how to read and write the language until I did my self-study. I’d managed to get through all the Hiragana and Katakana, but then I’d stopped. Eventually grad school hit me, so all other studies (and hobbies) were put on hold. I’d always fully intended on returning to my Japanese studies, but the opportunity and interest hadn’t hit me until recently. In fact, I found myself missing my Japanese studies!


This week, I decided to resume my Japanese studies, as this will help me for my Hakodate trip in April 2017. I re-downloaded Human Japanese on my desktop PC and my iPhone. I found my Hiragana and Katakana packets that I was using for writing practices. I even went and bought a new notebook (the Ardium Soft Note) to use for my writing pratices. With my two-hour wait for my bus in the evenings, I figured that’d be a good time to study. So far it’s been working out pretty well.

TC's Japanese Lessons

I’ve been slowly re-acquainting myself with Hiragana. As of typing this, I am up to the N characters. I find that Hiragana (and Katakana and eventually Kanji!) characters are difficult to write; my hand is not enjoying the process, haha! Still, though, I am enjoying the challenges, and this time I am really concentrating on memorising the characters so I can recognise them as I learn. Human Japanese is also helping with their lessons and exercises — I just hope I can persevere and learn more than I did previously! In the meantime, I’ll just have to keep practising!

Do you know more than one language? Is there a language you’d like to learn? Would you choose to self-learn or take a formal class? What other self-studying have you done? Share your experiences with me in the comments!


  1. Ah, Japanese. It’s my favorite language but one of the most difficult. I started self-studying this summer and I’m currently working through the Genki I textbook. Hiragana came a lot easier than I expected, but Katakana less so. Applying two characters to one sound makes my brain go very funny, I think. But time and repetition are the way to go!

    But I agree that writing the characters is hard for a hand that’s used to English letters. I was really worried about “sloppy” handwriting so I spent sooooo much time just fine-tuning my Hiragana, only to find out most Japanese people don’t always perfectly or even neatly write their own Hiragana (and Kanji).

    Good luck with your Japanese studies! It’s such a beautiful language and really is so much fun.

    • Katakana wasn’t as easy as Hiragana from what I remember. They look so angular and more alike then Hiragana do.

      I don’t mind the language that hard, speaking-wise. As a Korean speaker, I discovered that the grammar structure and the pronunciation were the easiest part — reading/writing, not so much, haha!

  2. Oh, wow! Keep practicing and I’m sure you’ll see even more progress. When I look at Japanese characters, they don’t look very effortful but of course, that’s only because I haven’t tried. I like looking at them though. They’re like a picture of Japanese minimalism.

    I tried to learn Korean once. I was following basic lessons from the Talk to Me In Korean website. They do their lessons in a podcast-ish format, which is really helpful in understanding proper usage of basic phrases. I stopped because life has been really busy but I hope to get back on it before I leave for Busan next year! I’ll be spending 8 days there (and maybe Daegu) alone, and it would be nice to show off some basic language skills. Haha.

    • I hope you’ll learn enough Korean to help you travel when you come here! Korean isn’t easy in some ways, but their characters are a lot easier to memorise than all three writing systems the Japanese uses!

  3. I learned Japanese for four years in school (2003-2006) and I am genuinely surprised by how much I remember. When I went to Japan three years ago, I was able to read the hiragana and katakana that I saw, even though I had not spent any time practicing it beforehand. Since I plan to go to Japan next year, I am going to spend some time learning some kanji, and of course refreshing my memory on the hiragana and katakana.

    Japan is one of my favourite countries – I love the culture, the food and the language, and just everything about it. I have a real passion for it. :) So it’s one of the languages that I get really excited about, compared to others. I haven’t touched Italian since I tried to learn it (which was before I went to Europe), and I only know bits of French and German. I know Indonesian because of my family being from Indonesia, but I can’t speak the language well.

    Good luck continuing to learn Japanese!

    • I wished they’d offer Japanese to me when I was in secondary school, but alas :( That’s good you took Japanese, though! It sounds like it helped you a lot when you went to Japan :)

      Japan is one of my favourite countries and cultures, too. Japan as a place is my happy place, so I am really looking forward to going there in April!

  4. I know how to speak Vietnamese, but I can’t read or write. I can read and write a bit of French since I took 4 years of it in high school, but speaking and listening are still too difficult to do in person. When I got to Paris, my 4 years of schooling went out the window. I would love to learn Japanese. I only know certain phrases, which helped a bit when I was in Tokyo.

    • At least you know how to speak a language :) Maybe you could try learning how to read and write it. I actually spoke Korean for years before learning how to read and write, and when I started learning, it came to be pretty smoothly!

  5. Wow Tara, you’re super talented for learning Japanese :-) I’ve tried to previously but it was really difficult for me to get my head around it all, I have since given up but it’s something I wouldn’t mind looking again into in the future :D

    I have a friend who took Japanese as her unrestricted module at University and she came out talking the walk and walking the talk, it’s awesome! I heard the teacher was really good too :-)

    I know bits of Spanish and Tagalog, mainly from my family :D I haven’t taken a formal class for either but wouldn’t mind as I have already have that background-ish.

    • It is difficult, I admit, but I know it will get easier as time passes. :) You should totally try again in the future, or if not, learn more Spanish and Tagalog! :D

  6. Self studying is really hard, as well as learning a new language! I think it’s great that you’re attempting to learn a new language though. I know many people who don’t attempt to learn a new language, despite the fact that it’s the language majority speak where they’re living.

    I also used to be interested in learning Japanese but sort of gave up without even starting lol. I can speak Korean because of my parents but I’ve always wanted to learn another! Maybe Spanish? Or Chinese? Haha

    • If I ever master Japanese, I want to look into learning Esperanto XD, but we’ll see since I’m not fond of languages with Romantic roots much . .. .

  7. I don’t know Japanese but your writing looks so neat and cute! Ahhh, it’s pretty cool how you were studying the language on your own. Keep on practicing! It looks like you’re making great progress :).

    I know how to speak improper Cantonese XD. That’s my only way to talk to my mom. Though, I did mention to my boyfriend that we should learn a different language together so we can say private things in public XD. I would go through the self-learn portion before taking a formal class (for grammar/proper usage reasons).

    • Aw, I’m glad you find my writing to be okay XD;;

      I think that’s a good idea for you and Adan to learn a language together so you guys can communicate privately! That’d be a great couple’s activity, actually :D And even better that you have someone to practise with!

  8. Good luck with the learning! I’m really bad at self learning because I easily lose motivation to do it. For a while I was using Duolingo to learn Spanish but i haven’t gone back to that for a while.

    • It is hard to lose motivation, but I’m going to use my trip as a motivator!

  9. Chantelle on

    Good luck with your Japanese studies. I have a long list of languages I want to learn starting with Korean… ^^; I’m a huge believer in self-study (or 1-on-1ish tutoring) because classes aren’t efficient.

    Before grad school (haha – you know I feel that pain), I made spreadsheets like this:
    I actually found it pretty helpful in that it was motivational. It didn’t hurt that I like numbers and such. :D At any rate, I wish you the best of luck. I think the best thing is to keep it fun so that you don’t quit. Not quitting is most important.

    • Thanks, Chantelle, for sharing your spreadsheet idea! I don’t think I’ll be doing anything elaborate, but I may try to come up with something simpler to keep track of my progress :)

      You bring up a good point about self-studying or 1-on-1 tutoring being better than classes. For a language, I can see that. When I took German in seventh grade, nothing STUCK. It also didn’t help that I started the class a week later than everyone because I didn’t get German on my first day, so I had to switch my schedule around :/ So by then everyone had learnt the alphabet, and I remained behind and never caught up.

  10. That is so cool that you are studying it again! I am sure that you will be a pro in no time! :D

    I learned some basics of Japanese in school and I would like to try and actually learn it properly. There is something about the language and culture I really like. 😊

    • Their language and culture also fascinate me :D I want to learn more about their history and culture!

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