It occurs to me I haven’t said much about the classes I’m taking or what I’m learning. Coincidentally, my mother’s just asked me the same thing, so it’s about time I gave a brief description.
I’m currently in class SC, which is the third in line of the SILAC program (which goes SG-SA-SC-SE, and I don’t understand why). I’ve just finished my first week of class, which involved the causative form of verbs (to make/allow someone to do something), two of the three uses of ように (one means something like “in order to,” while the other is harder to explain), and a few odds and ends. Starting tomorrow (which, as you might recall, is how SILAC weeks work), we move to the super-polite forms of verbs. It’s the language primarily used by people in the service industry, and involves different conjugations and even a few different verbs. I’ve wanted to learn it for a while, actually. When Suga-sensei (the teacher who basically inducted me) asked me what sorts of things I’d like to learn in Japanese, I mentioned several things (including 尊敬語 and 謙譲語), most of which fall into the SG course — which, as it turns out, is the same length as the number of weeks I allocated to study here. We also had our test for the week, some of which we took in class, some of which we took home (and turned in later). I got a 19/20 on the part we turned in the same day, and a 95% on my spoken test.
I’ve also decided to sign up for private lessons, which are held after the regular curriculum. Here’s my problem: SILAC Plus allows for those classes at a discounted flat rate — but only if you sign up for Plus initially. I asked about the ability to upgrade to Plus after the fact, but never got an answer, so I figured it wasn’t important. Because I didn’t make that decision when I signed up, I have to pay the regular rate (which goes down the more classes you take), but because it’s a peak month, I pay even more. Twenty-three classes a week sounds like a lot, but they’re not so much classes as they are fifty-minute periods; we study the same set of things, gradually shifting to new concepts. That’s fine, but four out of five days, I’m done by 2:30, while on Fridays, I’m done by noon. This is an awful lot of free time for a trip where I’m intentionally placing myself deeper in debt for educational purposes, especially when this area’s not very convenient and it costs a lot to travel to the nearest Big City. So I guess I’ll go a little deeper.
During my time in and out of class, I’ve also learned a few miscellaneous words and grammatical points (for example, the counter for multiplying measurements, like “twice the length”). A few interesting bits:
- The verb for rowing boats is the same used for pedaling a bicycle.
- Japanese don’t suffer broken bones; instead, their bones fold.
- In addition to separate verbs for wearing things on the head, from the shoulder down, and from the waist down — all of which I already learned — there’s one extra verb for wearing gloves, rings, and bracelets.
- Bathroomwise, what we euphemistically call “number one” and “number two” are known as “the small situation” and “the big situation.”
Sadly, no matter what’s being taught to me, there’s one thing I learn every time: I have a long, long way to go before I’m even close to fluent in this language.