Can and Can’t

I am close to the end of Kanji Odyssey Level 2. It is time to reflect about the things that I can and can’t do now as opposed to before.

2.9 months ago, I could hardly read anything that was beyond the scope of textbooks. What I could barely read were some easy texts I found at random on the Internet. For most texts I found I needed Rikaisama, and even with that I was hardly able to understand the overall meaning.

I wasn’t able to watch Anime without subtitles. Most of the Anime I own have no subs, and there are also no subs available. I could understand some words, and a few sentences, hardly enough to make much sense. I could not understand Drama at all without having subtitles. But I kept on listening while I was working with Kanji Odyssey.

There was no chance that I could understand text in most classic games. And I’ve been trying to play them numerous times during the last year. I did this to immerse myself in Japanese, and I simply clicked away the text, because I could play very well without it.

I was unable to write more than a few short lines to express myself. And I am still not very good at it. That is because I haven’t been working on it during the time I was working with KO. The same is true for actual conversations with real Japanese people. But there is enough time to do that.

I can read longer texts now, and I only have to use Rikaisama sometimes, when I find words that I haven’t seen before. I can read Manga, Doraemon for instance, visual novels, books such as A Students Guide to European History, or other texts. I also can read my ムーミン谷 books now and I am becoming faster in reading and understanding written text every day.

Four or five days ago I took a break from adding cards. I wanted to read something in Japanese, but not necessarily on the web. So I went to my bookcase, and started reading 『みんなの日本語初級 漢字 英語版』 Although the title says it is an English Edition, it is fully written in Japanese, with a translation for maybe 6 or 7 words. I don’t know exactly why I read it, but 2 hours and some 140 pages later, I was done reading and doing all the exercises that I found. I was also picking up 9 new words after I was done.

I can now watch and enjoy episodes of Anime without subtitles. The one I had the most fun watching goes by the name だめっこどうぶつ. This title, when translated literally, means Useless Animal. I can often guess the meaning of words in sentences, so that a sentence makes sense. Easy Drama are also not much of a problem anymore. The last one I was watching in full was called ドン★キホーテ. It began very funny but it quickly turns serious. I still had my fair share of laughter.

Right now, I can also play Visual Novels or RPG, without stumbling over words that I haven’t seen before. Currently I am playing 学園アリス with a GBA Emulator on my Laptop, which is hooked up to my TV, to fully enjoy the experience. Another game that I can almost fully understand now is called ロックマン.EXE I’ve been playing it numerous times in the past but in English and on my PSP. It is so much better to play it in its original. There are many more games I want to play on GBA, NES, SNES, and some other systems.

What I am pleased with is the level of both my active and passive listening comprehension. I can easily follow episodes of Nils Holgersson while creating KO cards and understand what has been said. I don’t think there is much more I can do to improve on it right now.

I still have to work on my production, my reading skills, on grammar, vocabulary, and some other aspects of the language. Even though I can be quite happy with what I can do and what I do know now, there is so much more that I don’t know yet. But now I am able to tell what it is that needs to be improved to get another step closer to my ultimate goal.

It will still take some time to reach my goal. But I have reached one big goal yesterday. I finished writing my book! All there is left to do is creating a good cover, the copyright information is still missing, and I have to create the Index and the text for the back of the cover. If all goes well I will put it on sale on Amazon next Monday. *笑顔*

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